Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Socialist Party Stands for a Free Society

The Socialist Party will always urge workers everywhere to resist attacks made on their living standards by their employers. This is a basic necessity so long as capitalism lasts. At the same time, we recognise such action to be purely defensive, besides never-ending, and which still leaves the factories, mines, shipyards, land, transportation systems, and the other places where wealth is produced, in the hands of the owning class. There is only one way out of this. We organise politically to bring nearer the day when capitalism will be swept away.

The Socialist Party makes the claim that Parliament is little more than a talking-shop; full of theatrics, posturing, and verbosity whose main output are inconsequential debates on the issues of the day. Parliament is a place full of rituals and flippancies, All the while, the fundamental business of capitalism goes inexorably on, irrespective of whatever pronouncements and edicts emanate from that self-important debating chamber. The fact that people don’t engage in elections is probably because they realise, either consciously or subconsciously, that the result makes little to no difference to their lives. If you have a house and job, you’ll probably continue to have both after this election. If you’re unemployed, you may or may not have a better chance of picking up a job. If you’re a billionaire, you’ll almost certainly remain very wealthy whoever wins on election day. There is an unstated realism at play; at some level, the electorate knows full well the pointlessness of this charade in terms of real impact on their lives. It's no wonder that people feel no pragmatic connection between their voting preferences and the outcomes, and no wonder that people feel so little connection with any of the parties. All these become are technocratic career structures for advancing politicians, a platform from which to project policy ideas to be reflected off the undifferentiated mass, which has no control over what is projected, beyond passive reflection.

When the Socialist Party contests elections we don’t engage in this type of smooth and glib electioneering. We do not involve ourselves in the hiring of image consultants and spin-doctors, the cynical analysis of focus group responses to discern where lies the greatest electoral advantage or the cultivation of the media to project some image. We openly state that our aim is the replacement of the current basis of society (capitalism and production for profit by an alternative society (socialism and production to meet people’s needs) and we work towards this aim.

Capitalism is a splintered society; divided not just by sectional ownership of the means of production but by the economic rivalry of independent states striving to exercise authority over given geographical areas. Conventional political parties endorse the framework of capitalism and compete to win control over the state and to administer the economic system within its boundaries, which necessarily means perpetuating the wages system and the persistent hardship for wage and salary earners. The policies propounded by these parties are similar because they are manifestations of the same political imperative – a continuation of capitalism – and are distinguishable only to the extent that they propose different organisation methods to administer the same economic system.

Voters vote governments out because they appear incompetent, incapable of finding solutions to the daily problems that confronts wage and salary earners. But government can never solve these problems because their permanent solution lies only in the abolition of capitalism and the wages system. Economic laws that politicians are powerless to change and leave little room for manoeuvre determine what politicians do and how they must react. It is not the deceitfulness of politicians that is the problem but rather the economic structure of society.

Capitalism exists only because workers allow it to exist. Changing the structure of society, however, is not as simple as changing political allegiance to a party. Capitalism is based firmly on a principle of leadership, where a minority in secret makes decisions and the excluded majority is told what they should do and how they should think. Changing the world’s economic structure by converting the means of production from class ownership to common ownership requires that workers individually understand what they want and actively combine to change their condition. Socialism cannot be delivered by leaders and is achievable only by the concerted action of a politically conscious mass movement without direction or leaders, for only then will the majority become the decision-makers.

Where once parliament was intended to function as a forum, representing the views and analysis of “the people”, this can now be achieved by the mass media. Whenever a story breaks, or significant events are occurring, the media produces “community leaders”, and “representatives” of consumers, fishmongers or whatever so-called “interest groups”. Thus, the media can claim to represent the divergent views on a particular topic. This claim, however, is undermined by the fact that the media self-selects these “representatives”, and by the fact that more often than not, these representatives are not even vaguely appointed by the people they claim to represent. In selecting who can speak, the media exercises power similar to that of the medieval monarch determining who gets to sit in their parliament. Indeed, the modern mass media presents itself as a forum for the people, as the place for representation and for determining legitimacy.

The Socialist Party understands that a free society can only be one in which people can directly and actively take part in politics, and concretely have their minds known through democratic voting on the ideas, rather than for representatives, to talk in their place. The important point must be that debate on issues is two-way, with the full and active involvement of all parties concerned, not a one-way monologue to reflect off the enforcedly passive audience. This all means that those engaged in the political struggle must battle against the media for access and for the opportunity to air views. The opposite response, like that of those anarchists who refuse to deal with the media, leads simply to surrender the field of political combat to the opposition.