Friday, November 25, 2011

violence and socialists

In the World Socialist Movement, we consider it essential to aim at a peaceful transition to socialism. This is not because we shrink from the prospect of bloodshed, although there is no shame in that. It is because we weigh up the possibilities and conclude that in any violent confrontation with the capitalist state the working class faces the near-certainty of defeat and massacre – and the odds grow steadily worse as military technology advances. Nor do we simply refer to the military. The police are stronger in their weaponry and protective clothing than those in the past. Under these circumstances, it is a foolhardy and dangerous anachronism to conceive of the socialist revolution in terms of a popular uprising. Of course, a popular movement is essential, but that movement must constitute itself as the legitimate authority in society through the democratic capture of the state.

A classless, wageless, moneyless society envisaged and founded on co-operation instead of competition can not be established by guns, bombs or violence. It can only be established and only maintained by the conscious democratic action of the majority. Such a majority would be the democratic foundation of a free, socialist world.

Our argument is that, if socialists are in a minority, to attempt an armed uprising would be suicidal folly, especially since a minority can't impose socialism on a majority anyway. If, on the other hand, socialists are in the majority (as they must be before socialism can be established) then an armed insurrection is unnecessary as the majority can use the ballot box to send delegates to parliament to take over political control. In any event, as we've always said if people won't vote for socialism, then they'll certainly not fight for it.


Anonymous said...

I'm afraid that if you think the exploiting class will give up its economic and political power peacefully you are sadly deluding yourselves. I am as opposed to violence as you are, but whether you like it or not you will have to face the forces of the state. In much the same way as the miners, steelworkers, printworkers had to.However I do agree that the idea of a minority of politically active revolutionaries can overthrow the state, is pure idiocy.The strikes and political mobilisation of thousands of ordinary people on the 30th November, will engage them maybe for the first time, in thinking about the creation of a fairer society. As marx wrote only through struggle do ordinary people acquire revolutionary consciousness.

ajohnstone said...

Like yourself, Marx according to Engels "never forgot to add that he hardly expected the English ruling class to submit, without a ‘pro-slavery rebellion,' to this peaceful and legal revolution."

No government can continue to govern in the face of active opposition from those they govern. Even if a pro-capitalist minority somewhere were to try to prevent a change of political control via the ballot box, the socialist majority will still be able to impose its will by other means, such as street demonstrations and strikes. But we doubt that it will come to that. But if it did, it wouldn’t stop socialism being eventually established, one way or another.