At the turn of the 20th Century there was a sharp difference of opinion amongst those in the socialist movement. There were men and women who held that there was but one cause of working-class poverty, and one only, and but one way to end it. They formed the Socialist Party of Great Britain, with the aim and object of capturing political power and achieving socialism. But others denounced this as a dream, too far removed from present needs to be practicable. What was wanted, they said, was something now, something tangible, something realisable, something which we could see in our time. These supported immediate reforms, palliatives, and thus the Labour Party began to develop. Only when the workers have finally shed the belief that capitalism can be made to work in their interests will they decide not to support any party of capitalism. When they do reach this level of understanding we shall not have a Labour government but socialism. The Socialist Party urges the workers to think below the surface of things and they will find that many of the ideas they have are but based upon the mere appearance of conditions instead of upon their underlying causes. If they will do that they will see the barren nonsense of Corbyn and McDonnell.
We hold that a socialist party must base its policy on a recognition of the class struggle which goes on between the working class and the privileged owning class. It must not compromise with other political parties which, because there can only be one socialist party in any one country, only stand for capitalism in one form or another. This is why we arc opposed to those parties, like the Labour Party. Although we don't regard it as socialist and hold that it stands for a reformed capitalism, we do recognise that they are in a way different from the LibDems and Conservatives. These openly proclaim that they stand for capitalism. The Labour Party does not; it claims to be a party of the working class. Under capitalism there is inevitably working class discontent. The more politically conscious workers organise to seek a redress of their grievances. But as long as they are not socialists, no matter how “ radical" they may be, their programme will be one of capitalist reform. They will form the "left-wing" of capitalist politics. This was the origin of the Labour Party; it was the party of working class discontent, vaguely protesting against the effects of capitalism but having no understanding of their causes. “Labourism" preached the need for a Labour government which would somehow be different from a Conservative government. Conservatives could not be expected to sympathise with or understand the workers, it was argued, but a Labour government would be different This belief was based on the assumption that Capitalism could be administered in the interests of the working class.
The experiences of past Labour governments should have shattered this delusion. As far as the working class were concerned there was little difference between Labour governments and Conservative ones. Their attempts to get higher wages were, as always, resisted. As before they were sent abroad to die defending the interests of the British capitalist class. The Labour Party has failed to produce Utopia. What changes they had made left the position of the working class much as it had been before. Once again experience confirmed our analysis that a Labour government would be no more able to solve working class problems than would an avowedly capitalist government. The fact that the Labour Party failed did not mean that its leaders were consciously dishonest. It just meant that their theories of how capitalism worked were wrong.
The Labour Party believed, and still believes, that social problems can be solved piecemeal—first defence, then housing, then redundancy, and so on. This again is a delusion. The social problems of capitalism—bad housing, boring work, lack of educational opportunities, increasing crime, increasing mental illness, shoddy goods—arise from the fact that the workers do not own the means of production. This means that these problems cannot be solved within the capitalist system. Attempts to alleviate them will fail, for no sooner is one aspect cleared up than another appears. Trying to alleviate capitalism's social ills is like doing Sisyphus' task. No sooner do you roll the stone to the top of the hill than it rolls back down again.