Saturday, June 08, 2019

South Wales Branch Meeting (10/6)

June 10,
Unitarian Church, 
High Street,
Swansea SA1 1NZ

The Socialist Party is not sitting back waiting for everybody to suddenly want socialism. We are actively working to help such a majority desire develop as soon as possible. It is part of the process of the development of socialist ideas which at the moment largely involves talking, writing and meetings but, later, when there are many more of us practical plans will no doubt be drawn up, for instance stopping world hunger, restoring the balance between human society and nature, solving the housing problem for implementation after the winning of control of political power via the ballot box.

The Left are not a part of the opposition to capitalism. On the contrary they advocate merely a variation to its form (that is the state-capitalist one) in which the wages system, buying and selling, police, armies and so on will continue to exist. They peddle the illusion that it is in our class interest. Do not be fooled by their use of the words “socialism” and “communism” or by their use of Marxist terminology. The test to use is a simple one—will the successful outcome of their policies result in the abolition of class exploitation and its replacement by a world-wide system of common ownership and free access by all to the wealth produced? Clearly the left-wing do not work for this end as an immediate practical possibility.

Many sincere and well meaning people vent their anger with the system by actively taking part in left-wing activity. It will not remove the cause of working class misery, rather it will confuse the issue which workers everywhere should have always before them—capitalism or socialism? Confusion gives rise to frustration and often to apathy which is a barrier to the democratic class conscious political action which must be undertaken if we are to liberate ourselves. We do expect workers to give up their support for organisations which simply tinker with the problems of class society. Sticking plaster solutions must be abandoned if we are to free ourselves by capturing control of the State.

The Socialist Party claims that the majority of the working class are capable of understanding socialism. This being so we are often asked the question, why then, are there not many more socialists? At present the vast majority of workers mistakenly can only see the solution to their problems in reforming capitalism in one way or another. Capitalism itself is not questioned, it is only the patching up of its effects that is attempted. From our point of view, one of trying to make socialist ideas known, the problem is not one of understanding, but of communication. Today information is mainly passed on by the mass media to which the Socialist Party is virtually denied access. What is seen and heard in the mass media is the misuse of the word 'socialism'. This means that we are called upon to spend a lot of time in explaining what socialism is not, that socialism does not yet exist anywhere. What is important about the mass media is not so much that they create attitudes and values but that they continue to reinforce existing ones. Socialist ideas are not propagated in a vacuum but within capitalist society, meeting all the obstacles and prejudice of capitalist ideology. A great deal of expense and time is spent perpetuating attitudes which maintain the capitalist system. Marx wrote, and it still applies today, that “The prevailing ideas in society are the ideas of the ruling class.”

To those who say “Yes socialism is a good idea, but you will never get the majority of people to understand it,” we ask: If you can understand socialism, why not then the majority of people? Members of the Socialist Party are no more or less intelligent than most other people. What we say is that if you think socialism is such a good idea why not find out more about it? Then join with us in helping to explain it to fellow workers so at least they may have the opportunity of deciding for themselves. 

Socialism is not an ideal. It is based on the sound facts of the way human society evolves, and the way capitalism works. We are not asking for a change of heart — we are asking for the conversion of the means of production from private or state ownership to common ownership. This is not an ideal but a practical and material demand. The material conditions for socialism have long been in existence. All that is needed is for the majority of the working class to realise their common interest in abolishing capitalism.


Tim Hart said...

A very good synopsis of the problem and solution! I'll be there on Monday at the meeting in Swansea and look forward to engaging with other comrades in the struggle to extricate our species and the planet generally from the death cult of capitalism and create a life-giving, life-sustaining system of socialism.

ajohnstone said...

I think one weakness we have is that we have very limited outlet for people to express themselves in a practical way. Nobody within the SPGB seeks to be an armchair theorist. We want to be able to exercise our socialist ideals in a constructive manner and share them with others. Every branch has to consider ways of doing so. We cannot persist in preaching to the converted, all of us singing from the same hymn-sheet. That is the challenge we all must accept and explore methods of achieving connections with our fellow-workers (and of course fellow members)

We have to be present so that our voice can be heard, the mountain does not come to us. We have to seek out the audience and have different means of communicating that resonates with it.

A tough order to accomplish, demanding much trial and error.