Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Socialist Party and Racism

The time is indeed ripe for a new social system, and this is what the Socialist Party advocates. The only people who are immune from racism are those who have realised where the interests of the world working class lie—in a system of society based on the common ownership of the means of wealth production, and in which all men and women will stand equal.

From the earliest days of working-class history, racial hatreds and national antagonisms have repeatedly been an obstacle to working-class solidarity and organisation. The capitalist ruling class and their political agents know the value of keeping alive these antagonisms. They know quite well that, whilst the workers remain divided racially and nationally, their own privileged position in society will remain secure. It is largely to divert the attention of our fellow-workers from a critical examination of the true cause of their poverty, from an examination of the capitalist system. However, it would be a very serious mistake to think that only racist neo-nazis have the monopoly of hindering working-class organisation. On the contrary, it would be difficult to find a capitalist class of any country which has not at some time or other stirred up its workers against those of another nation or race. Racial hatreds have been of great service to the capitalist class. The fact that politicians can stir up workers against other workers is proof of the immaturity of the working class. It is a proof that up to now the workers are without a true understanding of their position in capitalist society. They are still ready to consider their own interests identical to those of their master class. The exploitation of black and brown fellow-workers ensured that whatever your station in life, there was always someone lower to look down upon and who could be exploited further. Knowing that the workers are not yet wise enough to see through their game, the capitalists are prepared to go to any length to prevent their enlightenment.

Racial prejudice nourishes because capitalism produces chronic problems in employment, housing, and welfare. The working class suffers these problems but they do not understand their cause. They are, therefore, ready to blame the problems onto any fashionable scapegoat, including immigrants, foreigners or any other group which happens to be a readily identifiable minority.  Racism is an issue which the working class must deal with as an obstacle to their progress to a sane, free, humane social system.

 Nevertheless, although the Socialist Party is of course vehemently opposed to racism, we cannot agree to join any alliance against racism. To unite with non-socialist organisations is a dangerous policy for a socialist party. It would be a hindrance to what should be the basic aim of such a party: to agitate, educate and organise for socialism. At present most people are opposed to socialism. They are prepared to put up with capitalism and much of what goes with it. It is only because most people are patriotic (think they have a country) and are ready to trust leaders that they do listen to appeals for national unity, strongman leadership, wars, and armed forces. What is needed is not mere anti-racist propaganda, but basic socialist education: the statement in clear and unequivocal terms of the case for a socialist world community.

Since Socialists appeal to workers to unite, irrespective of nationality or colour or race (so-called), to the extent that we are successful racist and nationalist ideas are defeated. As part of a general socialist education campaign anti-racialism is much more effective. In our socialist activity we warn workers of the dangers of supporting leader-based, nationalist parties. Were we to unite with (nationalist) non-socialists our case would be weakened. One moment we would be urging workers to oppose Labour and its leftwing; the next we would be working with them! We would appear as unprincipled hypocrites. Our task is to spread socialist ideas as, in the end, only a working class, imbued with socialist ideas, is a sure guarantee that they will not listen to racists like the EDL but also the nationalists in the mainstream political parties.

While they may mean well, we cannot agree with some who propose to place restrictions on the right-wing neo-fascist' free-speech and shut them up. We have no wish to shut anyone up, not even Tommy Robinson. We are more concerned with persuading the thousands of workers who support Robinson's racist views not to take any notice of what he says. Shutting him up would achieve nothing but rather earn him undeserved sympathy. Robinson's views are obnoxious and he does use lies and half-truths but he should still be allowed to speak.

 As socialists, we are quite opposed to all restrictions on the free expression of ideas. True to our basic principle we do not support suppression of opinion, however false we believe that opinion to be. The Socialist Party is opposed to suppression of opinion. In our view the way to counter any kind of propaganda, and in the long run, the only way is to meet it in the open in unfettered discussion. We are entitled to add that we practice what we preach and have always thrown open our platform to all opponents, both left and right.

 As socialists, we sympathise with the suffering of our fellow-workers of whichever ethnicity and we ask them all to set aside their nationalism, their religious bigotry, their ethnic hatred and racism and to join together to put an end to the real problem – capitalism and the oppression it causes everywhere. Socialists are engaged in the enormous task of persuasion and organisation to build a powerful world-wide movement for democratic revolution. If an end is to be put to this rotten system it must be by the efforts of the workers themselves. This effort can only be exerted by a revolutionary organisation, conscious of its class mission. This organisation is already in existence in the Socialist Party. It is the only socialist party in this country, and only by enrolling yourselves in this party can the abolition of the present system of robbery and corruption be made certain.

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