As the political party apparatchiks go out and about trying to convince the cynical and sceptical public to vote for their same old tried and tired solutions and policies the Socialist Party offer something a lot different. As socialists, we wish to help change the world in a positive direction, not get ourselves into the offices of the local council. We in THE SOCIALIST PARTY are putting forward an alternative to capitalism and the madness of the market—a society of common ownership and democratic control, real socialism, not the elite-run dictatorships that collapsed in Russia and East Europe, nor the various schemes for state control put forward by the Labour Party.
Capitalism can only function in the interest of the capitalists, no palliatives can (nor ever will be able to) subordinate capitalist private property to the general interest. So long as class exists, any gains will be partial and fleeting, subject to the on-going struggle. What we should be opposed to is the whole culture of reformism, the idea that capitalism can be tamed and made palatable with the right reforms. Over decades, millions of workers have invested their hopes in so-called ‘practical’, ‘possibilist’ organisations and policies, hoping against hope that they would be able to neuter the market economy when, in reality, the market economy has successfully neutered them. They turned out to be the real ‘impossibilists’. Demanding the unattainable humanised capitalism is one of the greatest tragedies of the last century and it is made all the greater because it was all so predictable. Many held and still hold such as the authors the idea that capitalism could be reformed into something kindly and user-friendly. It couldn’t and it can’t.
The Socialist Party has no objection to workers and socialists getting involved in fights for partial demands but doesn't believe a socialist organisation should do that. We regard the strategy of making transitional demands as manipulative. A socialist party's task is NOT to "lead” the workers in class struggle or even to instruct its own members on what to do in trade unions, tenants' associations or whatever because we believe that socialists and class-conscious workers are quite capable of making decisions for themselves. To those who still say that, while they ultimately want socialism, it is a long way off and we must have reforms in the meantime, we would reply that socialism need not be a long way off and there need not be a meantime. It is only when people leave reformism behind altogether that socialism will begin to appear to them, not as a vague distant prospect, something for others to achieve, but as a clear, immediate alternative which they themselves can - and must - help to bring about.
Most on the Left believes class struggle militancy can be used as a lever to push the workers along a political road, towards their "emancipation." How is this possible if the workers do not understand the political road, and are only engaging in economic struggles? The answer is the elitist Leninist "leaders in-the-know" who will direct the workers. But these leaders lead the workers in the wrong direction, toward the wrong goals (nationalisation and state capitalism), as the workers find out to their sorrow.
One of the great strengths of the Socialist Party is our opposition to leadership and our commitment to democratic practices, so, whatever weaknesses or mistaken views we hold or get accused of, they cannot be imposed upon others with possible worse consequences. The history of Leninism/Trotskyism blames all on the lack of leadership or the wrong leadership or a traitorous leadership. The Socialist Party are not going to take the workers to where they neither know where they are going nor, most likely, want to go. This contrasts with those who seek to substitute the party for the class or who see the party as a vanguard which must undertake alone the task of leading the masses forward. The crucial part of the Socialist Party case is that understanding is a necessary condition for socialism.
The Socialist Party’s job is to make a socialist society an immediacy for the working class, not an ultimate far-off ideal. Something of importance and value to people’s lives now, rather than a singular "end". There is no point in drawing up in advance the sort of detailed blueprint of industrial and social organisation. For a small group of socialists, as we are now, to do so would be undemocratic. We also recognise that there may not be one single way of doing things, and precise details and ways of doing things more than likely vary from one part of the world to another, even between neighbouring communities. Nor can we determine what the conditions will be when socialism is established. As the socialist majority grows, when socialism is within the grasp of the working class, that will then be the proper time for making such important decisions. It is imprudent for today’s socialist minority to be telling people how to administer a socialist society. When a majority of people understand what socialism means, the suggestions for socialist administration will solidify into an appropriate plan. It will be based on the conditions existing at that time, not today. At this point some will no doubt say "cop-out" but no. We can reach some generalised conclusions based on basic premises and can outline broad principles or options that could be applied. We do not have to draw up a detailed plan for socialism, but simply and broadly demonstrate that it is possible and therefore refute the label of “utopian”. Never forget that socialist society is not starting from a blank sheet and we are inheriting an already existing production system. Workers with all their skills and experience of co-operating to run capitalism in the interests of the capitalists could begin to run society in their own interest.
Bill MartinRICHMOND BARNES:Adam BuickSOUTHWARK BOROUGH AND BANKSIDE:Kevin Parkin