It is not the question of violence that divides the revolutionary from the reformist. Reformism, that is attempts to modify the exploitative relations characteristic of capitalism, still remains reformism no matter how violent the means embraced to that end; and revolutionary activity, that is, activity directed to the termination of capitalist exploitation once and for all, still remains revolutionary even though conducted by the methods allowed by the capitalist state. The immediate task with which socialists are faced is to popularise socialist ideas and understanding with the aim of developing a political party strong enough to effect working class emancipation. As long as conditions permit, we shall pursue this course without deviating, but should subsequent developments unhappily render socialist propaganda illegal, we shall certainly do what we can, but let no one imagine for a moment that theatrical and heroic declarations before the event are in any sense a guarantee of effective action after it. The unpalatable, but nevertheless inescapable fact is that in modern society the suppression of those democratic facilities to which all politically conscious workers quite rightly attribute enormous importance, can only occur because of the approval or indifference of the masses. A working class which allows its political life generally to be determined for it by an absolutist government—no matter what that government may call itself nor what its alleged motives may be—is certainly not the kind of working class to provide a background favourable to socialist propaganda. Socialism will not be the work of a working class prepared to accept tutelage from any quarter; it can only be the work of one that is self-reliant, critical, and politically informed. From this it should be obvious that if freedom of speech, of the press and of association is suppressed, there is precious little that socialists can do about it until developments—notably the corruption which is an inevitable by-product of dictatorship—produce the desire and the determination in the working class to regain the right to openly discuss and consider political affairs. To think otherwise is not only to fool oneself, but to fool others as well.
There can be no socialism until a socialist majority have organised politically for and have achieved the conquest of the machinery of government. Socialism is the only solution, and that independent democratic political action is the method. If the workers do not like the effects of this system upon themselves, it is up to them to change it to one which is based upon the common ownership of the means of production, i.e., socialism.
Socialism involves the abolition of the wages system. This entails that our ability to use our labour power is no longer subjected to the power of the capital social relationship, to be used only when capital sees a profit. Rather our labour power becomes ours, to be used voluntarily as part of our relationship with others, working in association towards our goals—to production for use to meet our needs.
Socialism also involves:
· The abolition of useless production, freeing up of millions of people from producing products and services necessary only for capitalism.
· Social decision-making on what is useful—no tat, built-in obsolescence or environmental damage.
· Breaking up of the division of labour, having multiple roles in society.
· Voluntary work—from each according to their ability; less emphasis on efficiency so people can work as much as their competence allows
· Co-operation between user and provider: not a commodity relationship; providers doing it because they want to—so less likelihood of abuse; no power differential between providers and users but partners; emphasis on building competencies.
The case for socialism as more than an opposition to the economic exploitation of the working class. Throughout their writings, Marx and Engels criticised capitalism because of its effects on the working class as human beings.