Sunday, July 22, 2018

A Socialist Dictionary (1981)

From the September 1981 issue of the Socialist Standard

1) ANARCHISM: Strange specimen of philosophy which fears power itself more than capitalism. To the anarchist, the termites are the state, the police, the prisons, the family . . .  all forms of repression rather than the system which breeds them. Though claiming to be revolutionary, most anarchists support reforms.

2) BALLOT ELECTION: Socialists see the ballot as a crucial weapon for the working class to use to gain political power. When we become a majority, socialist delegates will be elected to Parliament with a mandate to abolish the wages-prices-profit system and replace it with common ownership.

3) CAPITALISM: A worldwide social system which evolved from feudalism. A minority class owns the means of production yet produces no wealth; and a class that lacks that ownership produces everything. Production under capitalism is purely for profit, not to meet human needs.

4) CAPITALIST: A member of the class that monopolizes the means of producing wealth and lives off profit, rent or interest.

5) COMMUNISM/COMMUNIST: Often confused with state capitalism, in which the means of production are owned by the state. Communism is synonymous with socialism, a system of common ownership and democratic control with production solely for use. Wealth is taken freely, in quantities self-determined by each individual. One who adheres to this doctrine is a Communist. The Communist Party and the left wing are therefore not communist.

6) DEMOCRACY: Rule by and for the people. Today wealth is created by most of the people, yet owned by very few of them. Socialism will be democratic in that production will be geared towards satisfying society’s needs, while ideas will be given the fullest opportunity of expression.

7) JOB/EMPLOYMENT: The producers of wealth—the workers—are also the non-owners. So their existence is determined by their selling of labour power (their ability to work) to the capitalist class for a wage or salary. Wherever there is employment there is capitalism, and vice-versa.

8) MATERIALISM: The doctrine that matter is the primary substance of all things. Materialism explains all existence in evolutionary terms, even Humankind’s social organisation, known as Historical Materialism. The antithesis of Materialism is Idealism, which because it stresses ideas as the basis for all existence and processes sees everything upside-down.

9) RELIGION: Not just idealist, but even sillier. Suggests all life was created by one god, or several of them, and is a force which controls us or judges us. “Goodness" or “badness" in life determines reward or punishment in the after-life. God is normally on the side of the country that supports it financially and has proven to be a very untrustworthy source of help to the sufferers in wars and miseries. Not only has no god been found, but the socialists hope they’ll positively go away so the workers will focus their attention on themselves.

10) RIGHT-WING: Like the Left-Wing it suggests that capitalism can be run in the interests of all, generally on condition that there is minimum state interference. But they don’t mean the state shouldn’t fight wars when profit demands or that the state should stop interfering with workers’ struggles for higher standards of life.

11) SCHOOL: A place where children between the age of four and eighteen years learn how to respect authority, and how to become useful workers (or capitalists, depending on the school). The appalling quality of this education is such that when children don’t like the outside world they're being trained for, they have to look for the SPGB to learn how to get rid of it.

12) SOCIALISM/SOCIALIST: A system based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of producing and distributing wealth. Production not for profit, but for use. There will, therefore, be no money, wages, prices, nations or social classes. A socialist is an adherent of socialism, which clearly the Labour Party, SWP and so on are not.

13) STATE: The machinery of government (armed forces, police, judiciary system) which operates in the interest of capitalism, of profit, of those who live off profit. It is supported by taxes, a burden on the capitalist class (not the working class, who must receive enough money to reproduce themselves as a class anyway). When the world is socialist, states will no longer be necessary as the interests of each individual will be maintained by social organisation itself (free goods, free speech, freedom of movement).

14) STRIKE: The essential weapon of the working class in a world of owners and non-owners. Recognising the limits of industrial action, however, will induce the majority to resort to a political alternative.

15) TRADE UNION: Organisation of the working class to resist the encroachments of capital. It can bargain, it can strike, but it can’t bring socialism. Trade unions are significant historically since they reveal the potential power of a united working class. Time for such a majority in the SPGB working not for higher wages but the end of the wages system itself.

16) WAGE:/SALARY: The object of our work in capitalism—our source of income. The wage is actually a rationing device which allows us just a small proportion of what we have produced. There will be no wages in socialism because common ownership means free access to wealth.

17) WAR: A nation’s resort to violence to procure or protect markets, raw materials, trade-routes or political prestige. Yet we workers do the killing and the dying despite having nothing to protect. We have nothing to lose and a world to win—so let’s abolish the market system which causes so much misery.

18) WORK/WORKER/WEALTH: Work is the application of our mental and physical energies to raw materials. In capitalism, the wealth-producers are working in order to live. Isn’t it time we abolished class, and therefore employment. and established a society in which we labour for our individual ends, and for society (both synonymous interests then as the contribution to society will create the abundance we may draw from freely)? Let’s end this mad system and replace it with a society of common ownership

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