Why Socialism? 4. Quit stalling

Submitted by Administrator on Thu, 01/12/2017 - 18:55

Which forces in society can be mobilised to resist the policies of state-monopoly capitalism and won for progressive change and socialism?

Britain's Road to Socialism (BRS) aims to maximise the forces for progress and revolution, and minimise those in opposition at any given stage.

Different groups of people have their own reasons for challenging aspects of today's economic and social system. But their common enemy is state-monopoly capitalism, which exploits workers here and abroad, oppresses large sections of society, strives to roll back democratic rights, blocks progress on every front, generates militarism and war, and now threatens the viability of our planet.

The working class has the most direct interest in overthrowing the system that rules and exploits workers, condemns them to poverty at various stages in life and confines most people to a lifetime of inequality and insecurity.

The new BRS identifies at the core of the working class those industrial workers who produce commodities directly for capitalist profit. But it also breaks new ground with its insistence that public-sector workers are exploited as well, although their surplus value accrues to the capitalist class as a whole through the state. Public services are essential for the functioning of capitalist society, not least those that sustain and enhance the provision of labour power.

In fact, without the labour power supplied by workers, capitalism would almost immediately cease to function.

Self-employed and subcontracted labour also helps provide surplus value for the capitalist class.

Yet the conditions of capitalist production, trade and administration create the potential for the working class to liberate itself. Workers who share the same premises, employer or industry have a common interest in organising to improve their terms and conditions of employment. Through trade unions, in particular, they can develop and express their collective strength as a democratic, disciplined force in society.

The new BRS fully recognises the importance of trade unionism embracing many more public-sector, women, black, part-time and casual workers, and establishing itself more widely in small and hi-tech enterprises.

It is in the interest of all workers to prevent super-exploitation of one section of the working class, which is used to undermine terms and conditions for all.

Unions can also seek to represent the wider and more fundamental interests of workers in society. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) and various socialist organisations established the Labour Party at the beginning of the 20th century, not only to represent working-class interests in parliament but to strive for a socialist society.

More politically advanced workers founded the Communist Party in 1920 to fight not only for reform, but for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism.

These organisations, together with the cooperative movement and other bodies built by the working class, comprise the labour movement. Only this movement has the organisational capacity to overcome the forces of state-monopoly capitalism.

Since its formation, the Labour Party has been the mass party of the organised working class. It continues to enjoy the electoral support of large sections of workers.

But its politics and ideology have predominantly been those of social democracy, seeking to manage and reform capitalism in the immediate temporary interests of the labour movement, rather than abolish it in the fundamental interests of the working class and humanity as a whole. Labour's reformist outlook neglects socialist education and sees political campaigning almost entirely in terms of elections.

Yet the Labour's federal structure, especially its trade union affiliations, has ensured the continuation of a significant socialist trend within the party. But the Labour Party left is not a cohesive and united force.

The "new Labour" faction emerged in the 1990s from within the social democratic trend, breaking from it to champion neoliberal policies and imperialist "globalisation." It openly represents monopoly capital in the emerging new phase of imperialism.

Whether the trade unions and the socialist and social-democratic trends will be sufficiently strong, resolute and united to take back control of the Labour Party from "new Labour" can only be assessed in the course of a determined struggle to do so.

The working class and peoples of Britain need a mass political party, based on the labour movement, that can win general elections, form a government and implement substantial reforms in their interests.

But this requires the unions themselves to fight both inside and outside the Labour Party for policies that will challenge state-monopoly capitalism. This would provide the most favourable conditions in which to resolve the crisis of working-class electoral representation.

Other forces, whether in left-wing parties or in the Green and Welsh and Scottish national movements, also have an important role to play in shifting the political balance of forces to the left.

So, too, do movements fighting oppressions based on gender, race, age and sexual orientation. For example, the Charter for Women provides a programme for campaigning that could reinvigorate the women's movement. The self-organisation of black people, youth, students and the unemployed must be supported and their needs and aspirations championed by the labour movement.

The peace, anti-war and international solidarity movements uphold a proud record of internationalism and anti-imperialism in one of the world's oldest imperialist countries.

Rooted in the working class, but active in all the major movements that bring people into activity against oppression and injustice, is Britain's Communist Party.

Its Marxist-Leninist outlook, creativity, discipline and role as part of the international communist movement enable it exercise influence way beyond its small membership.

History and experience show that a powerful, influential Communist Party is essential if a mass movement for revolutionary change is to succeed.