The Socialist Party opposes those political parties that promise to deliver a programme of reforms on behalf of the working class, often in order to gain a position of power. Such groups on the left-wing, often have real aims quite different to the reform programme they peddle. Many of these leftists are going to put before the working class only what they think will be understood by the workers - proposals to improve and reform the present capitalist system - and, of course, they are going to try to assume the leadership of such struggles as a way of achieving support for their vanguard party. These Left parties may try to initiate such struggles themselves and they will try to muscle in on any struggles of this sort that groups of workers have started off themselves. The ultimate result of this is disillusionment.
The Socialist Party understands only too well the urge to do something now, to take action and create some sort of change. That makes us all the more determined, however, to get the message across, to clear away the barrier of the wages system, so that we can begin to build a truly human society. Why waste time fighting for half measures? We would better spend our time, energies, and resources educating people to establish socialism rather than waste time in the false belief that our present system can be made to work in everyone's interest. We do not claim “capitalist reforms” stand in the way of achieving socialism. If we did we'd logically have to oppose them; which we don't. We encourage workers to fight back against employers and, although we don't propose or advocate reforms, we don't oppose them if they genuinely do improve workers' lives under capitalism. What we say is not that they are obstacles to socialism but merely that they are irrelevant to socialism and that a socialist party should not advocate reforms.
If you are convinced, however, that groups or parties promising reforms deserve your support, we would urge you to consider the following points. The campaign, whether directed at right-wing or left-wing governments, will often only succeed if it can be reconciled with the profit-making needs of the system. In other words, the reform will often be turned to the benefit of the capitalist class at the expense of any working class gain. Any reform can be reversed and eroded later if a government finds it necessary. Reforms rarely, if ever, actually solve the problem they were intended to solve. Socialists within the Socialist Party make a choice. We choose to use our time and limited funds to work to eliminate the cause of the problems. One can pick any single problem and find that improvements have taken place, usually only after a very long period of agitation. But rarely, if ever, has the problem actually disappeared, and usually, other related problems have arisen to fill the vacuum of left by the "solution".
If the view remains that the struggle for reforms is worthwhile then imagine just how many palliatives and ameliorations will be offered and conceded by a besieged capitalist class in a desperate attempt to retain ownership rights if the working class were demanding the maximum programme of full and complete appropriation and nothing less . To stem the socialist tide the capitalist parties will sink their differences and draw closer together, much as religions do today in the face of the world avalanche of atheism. Reforms now derided as Utopian will be two a penny - in an attempt to fob off the workers. Perhaps, for example, capitalism will provide a batch of free services, on the understanding that this is "the beginning" of a free society, but socialists will not be taken in.
If a pipe bursts and the water is flooding the house, one can start bailing the water out while it continues to flow in, or one can turn the water off, and then start bailing it out. It may take a while to find the tap, but unless the water is turned off, the water will continue to rise and bailing is rather pointless. Socialists are not immune to the human tragedies which occur daily, by the millions, and which generate tens of thousands of activists to trying to stem the flood. Socialists suffer those tragedies as severely as anyone else but work to encourage people to find the tap and turn it off.