Monday, October 10, 2016

Open Minds or Closed Eyes?

OH NO, not another political blog
Yes, but hang on - this one's different.
That’s what they all say
They don't all mean it, though. And they don't all know what they're talking about
How is this different?
We're not promising you anything.
So what are you up to then?
Simply asking you to think.

What Does Mainstream Politics Offer?

The usual platitudes of course. Some unexciting policies and probably insincere promises which won't make much difference to the quality of our lives. All the usual suspects - Labour, Tories, Lib-Dems - all totally committed to maintaining and defending the profit system, and serving the interests of the minority capitalist class. The Labour Party has never aimed at anything more than managing capitalism. Maybe more crumbs for the workers - but only if the profit system allows it.

But what about UKIP?

Same again! Like the others, they want to keep the working class divided because they know that way we are more easily ruled over. They want us to blame our fellow workers for the problems which capitalism causes. They try to turn us against ourselves - blaming migrants, or Muslims instead of understanding that it's the profit system itself which is the problem.

The UKIP like to pose as a radical alternative to the mainstream parties of Labour, Conservative and the Lib-Dems. The fact that these parties seem united in regarding UKIP as 'beyond the pale' serves to bolster the UKIP's image. But what neither they nor the mainstream can ever acknowledge are some fundamental things which they share in common. Chief among these is that in supporting one variety of capitalism or another, all these parties are fundamentally anti-working class. The mainstream parties have long used the tactic of 'divide and rule' to keep us - the majority - in our place. Instead of realising what we have in common as a class, we are taught to regard our fellow workers as being the enemy, or the cause of our problems. The UKIP's version of this, of course, is its rabid nationalism. But when the UKIP talk of putting 'Britain' first, it simply means putting the interests of the ruling class first! You can't just wish away the reality of class division, and the interests of Richard Branson etc. are most certainly NOT the same as the interests of the working class in Britain. We have far more in common with our fellow workers elsewhere than we have with those who rule over us, and swapping Labour or Tory for UKIP won't alter that. UKIP hits out at symptoms but fails to understand causes. Take immigration for instance. Migrants are, quite simply, our fellow workers. They are NOT the cause of unemployment, they are NOT the cause of overcrowding, they are NOT the cause of crime. These things are caused by the system of production for profit; in fact, capitalism itself. It is the profit system which forces employers to drive wages down by importing cheaper labour, but UKIP have no wish to tackle this system - in effect, they think it's ok for the ruling class to exploit the rest of us. They also think we need leaders to do things for us - only with them being in charge instead of the present rulers.

Think Local or Think Global?

It's impossible to separate the everyday local issues from the wider social system we live under. If we want to improve things we are going to have to act for ourselves. We're going to have to organise democratically to bring about a society geared to meeting human needs, not profits. But production for use (not profit) is only possible on the basis of genuine common ownership and democratic co-operation - what we call socialism. This kind of society may seem like a million miles away, but remember we already have the resources and technology to make it possible! After all, this is a world of plenty. What prevents us from enjoying it is class division. Under capitalism, only a tiny minority of the world have ownership and control over the economy. The vast majority of us have nothing except our ability to work which we are then obliged to sell to the minority. WE are the ones who create all wealth in society - but then we hand it over to the minority, the capitalist class!

One World. One People

We have a world to win. The Socialist Party cannot bring this about on your behalf, and we're not promising to. As workers ourselves all we promise is to play our part in bringing about a sane and rational democratic society where we collectively make the decisions that affect us without needing to worry about how to pay. A society where meeting our needs is the only priority!

The Socialist Party

The job of making a better world must be the work of all of us. Since 1904 The Socialist Party has completely opposed the idea of leadership; has rejected all forms of nationalism and advocated a world without borders; and has opposed both the phoney 'socialism' of the Labour Party and the state-capitalist dictatorship of the former Soviet Union. The world we want is one where we all work together. Co-operation is in our interests and this is how a socialist community would be organised - through democracy and through working with each other. To co-operate we need democratic control not only in our own area, but by people everywhere. This means that all places of industry and manufacture, all the land, transport, shops etc. should be owned in common by the whole community. That way we could all enjoy free access to what we need without the barriers of buying and selling.

An End to Pessimism

The Socialist Party rejects the view that things will always stay the same. We CAN change the world. Nothing could stop a majority of socialists building a new society run for the benefit of everyone. We all have the ability to work together in each other's interests. All it takes is the right ideas and a willingness to make it happen.

When faced with a bunch of politicians who can only be distinguishable by the colour of their rosettes, you may already be of the opinion that there is little that separates the mainstream parties and have no intention of voting. Millions of people are not prepared to support any of them. It is particularly to those members of the electorate who are not prepared to follow leaders, who think they are all tarred with the same brush, and unwilling to put their faith in the promises of local politicians, that this article is dedicated. Many of you will know little about The Socialist Party or our idea. Certainly many people have heard the word “socialist” and may mistakingly imagine it has something to do with the nationalised industries or with countries like China and the former Soviet Union. It is understandable that many people regard socialism as just another political cliché, once used by Labour politicians to win votes, but having very little meaning.

The Socialist Party stands solely for socialism because we do not think that the present social system – capitalism – can ever be made to work in the interests of the majority of the people. This is not the fault of government policies, but the present social system in which they are operating. Capitalism always puts the needs of a minority who own and control the factories, farms, offices, mines, media, the means of wealth production and distribution before the needs of ourselves, the working class.

It is a hard but undeniable fact that no political party – including The Socialist Party – can legislate to humanise capitalism or make it run in the interest of the working class. That is why it is important that the working class stops giving its support to politicians who support the profit system. None of them can solve unemployment or crime or any of the other social problems we face today, despite their proclaimed recipes for success. None of them will prevent tens of millions starving to death each year. None of them will provide decent housing for everyone. None of them will end the threat of human annihilation as a result of war, because militarism is inevitable within a system based upon the ferocious competition for resources, markets and trade. Why waste your time voting for parties that cannot make any of these urgently needed changes? Why go on in the hope that some miracle will happen and end the insanity of the profit system?

So what’s the alternative?

We say that the resources of society must be taken into the hands of the whole community – and by that we do not mean the state, but all of us, organised together, consciously and democratically. In a socialist society we will produce for use, not profit. This means producing food to feed the world’s population, not to dump in the sea if it cannot be sold profitably. Producing for use means ending the colossal waste of resources on armies, armaments, trade, banking and insurance and all the other social features which are only necessary within capitalism. By running society on the basis of common ownership, democratic control and production for use we can all have free access to all goods and services.

Two points should be clear to you by now. Firstly, this is no ordinary political argument. We have made you no false promises; we have not patronised you and neither do we beg for your support. Indeed we do not ask for your support unless you are convinced that the case for socialism is a rational one and in your interest. Socialism, if it is to be the democratic and sane society that we envisage it will be, can only be established when a majority of the people understand it and want it, so there is no point in seeking support on any other basis.

Secondly, you will have noticed that what we are advocating is different – it has never existed. The Tory have-beens have nothing new to offer. The Labour Party, if re-elected, will continue its futile exercise of trying to manage the present system based upon exploitation in the interest of the exploited. The Liberals, if given half the chance, will pursue the vicious policy of dancing to the tune of profitability while human needs are ignored.

Do you agree with the following statements.

1.  Capitalism puts profits for the few before the needs of the many.
2.  Labour governments and proposals to reform the present system cannot establish socialism.
3. Socialism is yet to exist.
4. Socialism means a society of common ownership and democratic control, where production is solely for use.
5. Socialism means a world without buying or selling, where people give freely of their abilities and take according to their needs.
6. When a majority understand and want socialism, the new system will be established.

If you think the above statements are correct then we thank you and ask you spend some of your time  supporting us. If you disagree, please tell us why.

It’s tempting, in the absence of any real alternative, to get drawn into the phoney war that passes for political debate today. Whether Labour, Tory or Lib Dem, they all spout the same promises. But it all amounts to the same thing – more of the same and no alternative to the present way of running society. One thing is certain, and perhaps you’ll already be of this opinion. Whichever candidate or party the electorate decides to vote for brings about no significant changes to the way things are. And in between elections we have little or no say in the major decisions - the real issues - that concern us.

Politicians are fond of telling us that we must take responsibility for our own lives and that we must see to it that our world is a fit place for our children to grow up in. I’ll not disagree with that, but what I will ask is how can we seriously do anything about it when the real decisions are not in our hands? Because of the way things are organised at present, none of us are allowed to take part in the really important decisions that affect us – the ones about our schools, about health and housing, peace and pollution and the distribution of wealth. We are no more consulted on the closure of schools or the selling of council properties to private landlords than we were consulted on the decision to invade Iraq.

What the Socialist Party suggests as the alternative to this insane set up is a truly democratic society in which every person has a free and democratic say in the decisions that affect them – a society without leaders and the led. In such a society, people would co-operate to run all of the world’s natural and industrial resources in their own interests, freeing production from the artificial constraints of profit and establishing a system of society in which each person has free access to the benefits of civilisation. Today we have the technology, the resources and the know-how to satisfy everyone’s needs. That fact is well established. However, we cannot utilise society’s assets sensibly because of the profit-driven requirements of the market-system. In a society in which the fundamental need of production is profit, our needs come a poor second. The profit system exerts such an influence in society that it impinges upon every aspect of our lives, and you’d be hard pressed to think of some service or product that is not balanced against cost – something to muse on whilst waiting for the bus, the police or visiting the local shops.

You may consider that the society outlined sounds nice, but that socialists are demanding the impossible. All we are asking is that you, the electorate, think for yourselves, value yourself and your fellows higher; expect more for your children and grandchildren. Is it not the case that our world would be a better place to live in if we each had a real democratic say in the decision-making process and real control over the means and instruments for producing and distributing the things we need to live in comfort? Is it not high time that we took back control of our destiny from the profit mongers and their lackeys in power?

Unlike every other politician in this election, we make you no promises, not least because we believe there is little politicians can do for us that we are not already capable of doing for ourselves, once we decide to really cooperate and decide just what is in our real interests.

Politicians cannot can bring about real changes to our lives, because they do not control the system – it controls them. However, voting for socialism is a step in the right direction and at last puts the ‘real issue’ on the political agenda.

At the end of the day it is up to you. It is up to you to decide whether you favour the present system or the rationally organised system called socialism. If you agree with us, if you think we are each capable of cooperating to run a society of free access in our own interests – but only if you agree – then support us with your votes and become a member


John Bissett

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