Brighton Discussion Group
Sunday, 27 May - 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Venue: The Victory Pub (upstairs),
6 Duke St,
Brighton BN1 1AH
The Socialist Party of Great Britain stands by its analysis that we should use Parliament, not to try to reform capitalism but for the purpose of abolishing capitalism and that at the same time, the working class will also be organising itself, at the various places of work, in order to keep production going. The Socialist Party's case is for the primacy of political action. Another principle held by the SPGB is the need for the majority to understand and support the socialist transformation of society.
Control of parliament by representatives of a conscious revolutionary movement will enable the bureaucratic-military apparatus to be dismantled and the oppressive forces of the state to be neutralised, so that socialism may be introduced with the least possible violence and disruption. Parliament and local councils, to the extent that their functions are administrative and not governmental, can and will be used to co-ordinate the immediate measures to transform society when socialism is established. Far better, is it not, if only to minimise the risk of violence, to organise to win a majority in parliament, not to form a government, but to end capitalism and dismantle the state.
The Socialist Party say that the capitalist’s legitimacy comes from their ‘democratic’ rule, so we believe that the capitalist’s legitimacy can be totally be broken by taking a majority in Parliament. But “capturing” Parliament is only a measure of acceptance of socialism and a coup de grace to capitalist rule. The owning class has a supreme weapon within its grasp: political power, – control of the army, navy, air and police forces.
That power is conferred upon the representatives of the owners at election times and they, recognising its importance, spend large amounts of wealth and much time and effort to secure it. In countries like Britain the workers form the bulk of the voters; a situation the employers are compelled to face and deal with. Hence the incessant stream of opinion-forming influences which stems from their ownership and control of press, radio, schools to influence the workers to the view that capitalism is the best of all possible social forms. And that only political groups who accept this view are worthy of workers votes. It is the Achilles heel of capitalism and makes a non-violent revolution possible. Therefore, the first, most important battle is to continue the destruction of capitalism’s legitimacy in the minds of our fellow class members. That is, to drive the development of our class as a class-for-itself, mindful of the fact that capitalism is a thing that can be destroyed and a thing that should be destroyed. They must withdraw their consent to capitalism and class rule.
The Socialist Party view its function to be to make socialists, to propagate socialism, and to point out to the workers that they must achieve their own emancipation. The abolition of capitalism MUST entail organisation without leaders or leadership. The act of abolition of capitalist society requires a primary prerequisite and that's knowledge on the part of the individual as to what it is that is responsible for his or her enslavement. Without that knowledge s/he can only blunder and make mistakes that leave their class just where they were in the beginning, still enslaved. That knowledge must precede intelligent action. And intelligent action in this instance means an intelligent organisation (a lack of unity of ideas and purpose always ends in defeat even for the non-socialist and non-revolutionary groups and parties.) The working class must want and understand a socialist society of common ownership and democratic control. We need to organise politically, into a political party, a socialist party, a mass party that has yet to emerge, not a small educational and propagandist group such as the SPGB . This future party will neutralise the state and its repressive forces and there is no question of forming a government and "taking office", and then it will proceed to take over the means of production for which the working class has also organised themselves to do at their places of work. This done, the repressive state is disbanded and its remaining administrative and service features, reorganised on a democratic basis, are merged with the organisations which the majority will have formed (workers councils or whatever) to take over and run production, to form the democratic administrative structure of the state-free society of common ownership that socialism will be.
The members of the Socialist Party are labelled pure and simple parliamentarians but “capturing” Parliament is only a measure of acceptance of socialism and a coup de grace to capitalist rule. The real revolution in social relations will be made in our lives and by ourselves, not Parliament. What really matters is a conscious socialist majority outside parliament, ready and organised, to take over and run industry and society. Electing a socialist majority in parliament is essentially just a reflection of this. It is not parliament that establishes socialism, but the socialist working-class majority outside parliament and they do this, not by their votes, but by their active participating beyond this in the transformation of society.