Wednesday, October 09, 2019

World Socialism or National Parochialism

Living under capitalism with its attendant social misery, poverty and unemployment, where working-class housing and education are in a permanent state of chaos, scapegoats become an essential part of the set-up. Finding something or someone to blame is the easy answer for those who take a crude and superficial view governed by emotions rather than facts.

The capitalist class pounds patriotic poison into workers’ heads in order to produce national conformity, only to find they cannot just switch those attitudes off when they want to recruit labour from overseas. Nationalism is completely opposed to the real interests of all workers. It leads them to identify with the interests of the capitalist class and to line up behind the commercial ambitions of that class. Such loyalty, bolstered by fear and insecurity, is dangerously misguided. The ideology of nationalism is divisive and dehumanising. It is the ideology for the slave. The whole ethos of capitalism, is built upon lies, and the promotion of the crudest class-ignorance in the form of racist ideas. Wrong ideas cannot be banned, and trying to ban them is itself a wrong idea. It seeks to treat the effects, not the cause. Only in unfettered debate and open discussion can erroneous ideas be exposed and answered. Nothing short of removing capitalism can get rid of its antagonisms. As workers gain an understanding of socialism they will leave behind bigoted ideas about colour, race and nationality. They will pursue their own interest not as blacks or whites, British or "foreigners”, but as workers. In so doing, they will free themselves from the bondage of wage-slavery. When the system of exploitation and poverty is ended, the perverse ideology which supported it will also have disappeared.

The Socialist Party has always and everywhere been pro-working class and nothing else.

We are internationalists, and our slogan is “The World for the Workers”; not for the British or for whites, but simply for the workers. This is because we see that the problems which worry us are the problems which worry all of the workers whatever differences of nationality or colour there may be between those in one continent and those in another. Although our rulers may quarrel among themselves and wish to drag us into their conflicts and trade wars, there is something which binds them together against us and us against them. They are the owners and controllers of our means of life. Whether we plough wheat-fields in Norfolk or the Prairies, sow rice in India, load ships or crew them, work in steel mills or cotton factories, drive trains or work in offices, we are all subject to one uniform circumstance. We may not use this vast machinery for producing wealth without the permission, and on the terms of the owners. You may not like, the word, but you cannot escape the fact that we are slaves to the people who at present own these things. We have to yield up to them as rent, interest, or profit a large part of the wealth we have produced. We yield it, not because they work, or direct, or do any useful service, but merely because they own. The working class does not own the natural resources of wealth, yet within its ranks are all those who perform the essential services which turn that natural wealth to good account. Our fight, then, is against the owning, but no longer useful, class; and it is a fight which crosses national boundaries. Our internationalism rests on a firm foundation—the sure knowledge that national sections of the working class stand or fall together. The necessity is for the workers to organise and act on class lines in the task of maintaining their present standards.

The kernel of the whole matter is defending what and defending whom? As workers you have nothing to defend except you' lives. Whether the employer is a Jew or a Gentile, white or black, French or British, does not matter one jot. They will employ you as they think fit, and they will, if you kick or lay hands on capitalist property, use their armed forces to shoot you down. As workers you have before you one remedy only; sometime, sooner or later, you will be compelled by the pressure of economic forces to set yourselves to this remedy. You will have to decide to seize from the capitalist class the means of producing wealth in the use of which they no longer take part, and use it as common property for the satisfaction of the needs of society. Until you do that, all your struggles will be in vain. If in the meantime one section of the capitalist class, the section which is primarily interested in exploiting you, asks you to defend its wealth against another section, act in accordance with the interests of your class, and let them fight their own battles. 

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