LOTHIAN SOCIALIST DISCUSSION
The Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh,
17 West Montgomery Place,
Edinburgh EH7 5HA
Membership of the Socialist Party does carry with it the definite and absolute prohibition of membership of any other political party in this country. Having made up our minds that the paramount need of to-day (not of some distant time in the future) is socialism, we came together in a Party which exists only for that purpose. A socialist party must maintain independence and have no compromise with capitalism. It neither supports nor opposes reforms even if they appear to benefit workers at some time. The SPGB is opposed to reformism because: (a) it makes capitalism run more smoothly (b) it is the capitalists who pay for reforms and decide which ones, and (c) we have had them for 150 years and they have not led to Socialism and never will. At most they are a temporary appeasement to some sections of the working class and can be withdrawn at any time. The Socialist Party likens reforms to crumbs from the capitalist table. Capitalism can find something new every day, some problem which can occupy your time until another comes along to take its place in your mind. That is the trap which capitalism sets and into which reformist parties are continually falling. They say "This problem can't wait until we have socialism, so we must deal with it first." And capitalism continues to produce problems of apparent immediate urgency; so that somehow they never get to socialism—and, in the MEANTIME, CAPITALISM REMAINS.
The political aim of the Socialist Party is a response to the futility of reformism. Ours is the politics of revolution. We do not mean bloodshed and barricades when we speak of revolution, but a fundamental change in social relationships. Socialism means revolutionary social change. The Socialist Party stands for a totally new system of social organisation in which the means of producing and distributing wealth—the land, factories, mines, docks, hospitals, railways—are commonly owned and democratically controlled by all members of society, without distinction of race or sex. In socialism, each member of society will give according to ability and take according to self-determined needs. Money, wages, buying and selling will be things of the past, when wealth is held in common. Clearly, such a system does not operate anywhere in the world today. Neither could it exist in one country; the world system of capitalism can only be replaced by the world system of socialism.
Socialism is a democratic concept and it can only be established by conscious, democratic socialists. Leaders cannot get socialism for the working class. Indeed, the Socialist Party urges workers to reject all leaders and do your own thinking for yourselves. The emancipation of the working class by the working class itself is what we stand for. When the workers of the world understand and want socialism they must use their political power—in many countries this makes use of the ballot box—to take social power away from the capitalists and their representatives and to place the means of life in the hands of the whole community.
The socialist revolution is not an unattainable ideal. It can and will happen when millions of workers all over the world recognise their class interests, form socialist parties and use the political strength which they have. Once a majority of workers are resolved to establish socialism there is nothing that can effectively stand in their way.