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.