Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Voting for the Socialist Party

In this General Election all Labour Party candidates are desperately anxious to appear as "practical" politicians, so to avoid frightening the voters by standing as representatives of the working class. To occupy the latter position would mean running as socialists, and laying before the workers the opposition of interests that exists between employer and employed. But such an attitude is denounced as “unpractical,’’ “impossible,’’ and in other terms that are found so useful when argument has failed.

Although founded well over a hundred years ago, before the Labour Party began, in fact, the Socialist Party finds itself as firmly based on its principles, as unassailable in the position it took up at its inception. We view our ideas  as sound to-day as they were yesterday, and will be as sound to-morrow. As to the success of our efforts, we have no cause for pessimism. To say that we are quite satisfied would, of course, be to say that we are not enthusiasts—for enthusiasts are always a little bit impatient. However, we knew before we started that we had a hard task ahead, that socialists—men and women who thoroughly understand the working-class position, are not inspired by a few passionate utterances, or an appeal to their emotions, but are made by steady and persistent education. Bearing this in mind we look back upon our past work with the feeling that it has accomplished all we had looked for.

The Socialist Party is a revolutionary party, that is to say. it eschews any association with reformist elements or single issue policies; instead, placing first and foremost the revolutionary call for the abolition of capitalist society. It is also committed to attain this objective through the democratic channels of Parliament and local government. It is certainly true that the revolutionary transformation of society could not be achieved by a few isolated socialists stepping into capitalist institutions of government. They would be reduced to administering the very system of class division which they had set out to oppose. But the missing factor, which he has so far left out of account, is that of consciousness.

Once a majority of workers have come to reject capitalism in all its forms, the path will be clear for the establishment of the socialist alternative. Before the formation of the Socialist Party of Great Britain in 1904, there had been a division in the European labour movement between the “revolutionary" policy of minority insurrection (undemocratic coups) and reformism, using working-class representation to try to humanise the administration of capitalism. Neither of these options offered the possibility of genuine self-emancipation by the working-class majority.

The Socialist Party proposed that the profit system could only effectively be replaced by democratic production for use when a socialist consciousness allowed the working-class majority to democratically take control of and dismantle the capitalist machinery of government, without becoming at all involved in the running of capitalism.

If in the unlikely event that one of our candidates is elected, he or she would use the seat as a platform for the wider propagation of socialist ideas. It seems highly unlikely, however, that one isolated seat, local council or indeed national, will be won over to socialism without similar success elsewhere. The developments in working-class consciousness across the world are remarkably uniform in pace, particularly as the progress of industrialisation continues to unite the world as (potentially) one productive area.

When there is a politically organised, conscious movement for socialism in a majority, it will be able to complete its democratic taking over of the state (the capitalist machinery of government). Where previously socialist delegates would have sat in the council chambers and parliaments as a vocal minority, they will then be able to form controlling majorities in such centres of social power. But socialist delegates are elected only under a strict mandate to abolish, rather than to administer, the capitalist system of society. Their presence as a majority in the parliaments and so on will be a reflection of a majority of the population having come to see socialism as a practical alternative, which they are ready to implement and to be responsible for running democratically. It only remains, then, for those delegates to fulfil their mandate of formally annulling all property titles, state and private, and ensuring the removal of the immediately redundant machinery of government. New, and far more democratic, channels of communication and control can then be introduced.

This use of electoral channels to complete the socialist revolution will have achieved two purposes. First, the demonstration beyond all doubt that there is a majority who reject capitalism and are prepared to organise socialism as a workable alternative. Second, the disarming of the capitalist class, who otherwise may attempt to prevent a majority from dispossessing them of the means of wealth production, by retaining control of the machinery of government. But first we face the urgent task of encouraging and accelerating the spread of a revolutionary socialist consciousness among wage and salary-earners, on which this whole process depends. We would urge all workers to join us in this great challenge of bringing society under conscious and democratic human control.

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