Saturday, May 02, 2015

We Said It Then, We Say It Now (11)


The candidates of the Socialist Party of Great Britain are entering this election with a viewpoint that is completely opposed to those of the other parties taking part—that viewpoint is one of working-class interests. You may consider that the Labour Party, or even some other party, is concerned with working-class interests, but a brief look at the facts shows that this is not so.

For all its talk of "democracy" and "equality of opportunity," what has the Labour Party ever done for you or for the working-class generally? Did it solve the housing problem? Did you become substantially better-off between 1945 and 1951? Did the threat of war recede? The answer to all these questions must be an emphatic NO! Of course, the record of the Tories is no better.

Why is this so? The answer is a very simple one. Neither of these parties sets out to solve your problems or to make you better off—what they set out to do, in fact, is to run this social system called capitalism in the only way that it can be run; that is in the interests of your bosses, employers, ruling class, call them what you will.

What then is the basis of this social system? Capitalism means a social organisation where all the means of producing wealth (mines, land, factories, transport and so on) are owned by a small section of the people. That leaves us, the working class, with nothing except our ability to work. And work we must, or else we starve. From the employer's point of view, it is a simple proposition—more for you means less for them, and so they do all that they can to prevent any raising of your living standards. The fraud of inflation carries out this job well, so that wage increases are often nullified by a corresponding rise in the cost of living.

But this isn't our only objection to capitalism. Our bosses are always squabbling with the ruling classes of other countries over the distribution of the loot, resulting in continual international crises and minor wars, leading sooner or later to major ones.


We say that there is an alternative to this state of affairs—the alternative of Socialism. Socialism means a world where the things of life will be produced solely to satisfy the needs of mankind, instead of for the purpose of realising a profit for your bosses; a world where the whole of humanity will own and control the means of living and where wars and international tension cannot exist: a world where people will no longer be subject to the threat of unemployment and to the perpetual struggle to make ends meet—in short, a world where everyone will freely and equally associate and enjoy all the fruits of their labour. It may be objected that these are hardly matters which concern local electors, but in fact the problems of local government are the same as those of the national government, only at a lower level. The measures affecting rates, rents, housing, education, etc., are no more than the carrying out of government policy, which means capitalist policy.


One of the most pressing questions of local government is the housing problem, and although the Labour and Tory parties talk glibly of the numbers of flats and houses built, the fact remains that to-day's housing problem is as bad as it ever was. At root, the lack of decent accommodation for working people is a part of the working-class poverty problem. If you happen to be well-off, there is no lack of fine houses and flats—at an appropriate price. In other words, workers live in poor houses and flats because they cannot afford anything better, and never will be able to afford anything better as long as they remain members of the working-class.


Education too, under capitalism means the fitting of our children for the tasks required by the social system; in other words, the production of the engineers, clerks, miners and all the other kinds of worker that are essential to capitalism. The present-day bias towards technical education is but a reflection of industry's needs for more and more technical workers. Nothing wrong with that, you might think. But the trouble is that capitalism has no regard for the realisation of a child's potentialities or for education in the sense of equipping children for full and happy lives.


The problem of rates is another that is much discussed in the council chamber, but basically it is not one that really concerns workers. The whole principle of taxation, national or local, is the levying of a share of the profits for the State, in order that it might efficiently carry out the task of keeping capitalism going. Your wages, generally speaking, are no more than sufficient to keep you and your family going from one pay-day to the next, and this is affected little, if at all, by the raising or lowering of the level of taxation.

We say that all these problems are capitalist problems, which means that they are inseparable from the nature of the society under which we live. All the efforts of the reformers over the years have not altered your basic position one bit. What is required is something far more drastic—a revolutionary change in the nature of society.


Our proposition is a simple one. We and people like us (the working-class) not only produce all the wealth but also carry out all the necessary functions to keep society going. The tragedy is that we keep it going for the benefit of a privileged minority. What we suggest is that workers throw off the domination of the ruling class and organise and run society in their own interests instead of in the interests of their bosses. Then and only then will we see an end to the problems that have beset the working class for so long.

This is a proposition well worth struggling for, hence our participation in this election. Our candidates are here as a protest against capitalism, and to give working people an opportunity of registering their support for the only constructive alternative to capitalism and for the only effective solution to their problems. Everyone who joins us in the struggle against this pernicious social system is helping to make the life of capitalism shorter and helping to bring about a sane and rational social order.

Do not think that because there are only three of our candidates in this election, there is no point in supporting us. At least, three socialists in the Town Hall would mean a lot of useful propaganda for socialism and would ensure that there were a least some members of the council who really did represent the working class. In any event, the need for socialism becomes ever more pressing in a world riddled with frightening problems, and a start must be made in wresting power from the ruling class. Every socialist vote means another step towards a freer, better world.

Hackney Borough Council Elections - 1959