In Australia, as in all other class society, there is as has been shown a coercive state apparatus to maintain, protect and preserve the continuity of the contradiction between a few owners and the vast majority of non-owners. Likewise a whole ideology, system of ideas, has been built up to give it support. Coercion and “persuasion” of this kind go hand in hand.
The key question of politics, of struggle between owners and non-owners, is this state apparatus – which class will own the state apparatus?
So long as this state apparatus is in the hands of the owners and so long as the prevailing ideology to support it and its system maintains a reasonable hold, then the owners are in control. Their system of exploitation is safe.
But the development of the productive forces, the pressure to their further development, are inexorable. That causes the parasitic character of the owners to appear more clearly and causes great strain on the relations of production. More and more reliance must be placed by the owners upon the coercion of the state apparatus. Fascism, the more open forcible rule of the monopoly capitalists, arises. There is a more desperate search for ideology both to persuade and to divert. An increasing number of “theoreticians” is hired in Australia to justify the situation and an increasing number of diversions such as sex, sport, drugs, crime, drink, is promoted.
All the material forces are pressing to the change from capitalism to socialism. The coercive state apparatus and the dominant ideology are resisting that change. It is in these two spheres that the change is fought out.
For the preceding social change from feudalism to capitalism to occur, the maturing of the material forces of capitalism within the womb of feudalism necessarily gave rise to ideas which challenged the ideas that supported feudalism. The English reformation challenged some aspects of feudalism preparatory to the English civil war. The ideas of Voltaire, Rousseau etc. challenged the ideas of feudalism in preparation for the French Revolution.
As the material basis of socialism developed in the womb of capitalism, socialist ideas arose.
Thus the English Utopian socialist Owen advanced his “ideal” society in the early 19th century. The French Utopian socialists Fourier and St. Simon advanced their ideas. Marx and Engels expounded the ideas of scientific socialism towards the middle of the 19th century. Their Communist Manifesto was published in 1848. They showed that social change arose from changes in the productive forces. They pointed out that Communist development “involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.” Ideas of scientific socialism challenged the whole prevailing ideology. This was the ideological form in which man became conscious of the basic conflict in society and began to fight it out.
As the material forces in society push more and more against the old relations of production so the conflict of ideas grows greater. It is necessary as part of the social change, the undermining and overthrow of the coercive state apparatus, to persuade men to challenge it. The very experience of workers of their exploitation in the socialised process of production educates them. Their education goes through various stages. They ultimately need and get socialist ideas. Thus coercion enters a crisis and ideas develop to challenge that coercion.
The part played by ideas is tremendously important. It was put by Mao Tsetung thus: “When it is impossible for the productive forces to develop without a change in the relations of production, then the change in the relations of production plays the principal and decisive role. The creation and advocacy of revolutionary theory plays the principal and decisive role in those times of which Lenin said: ’without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement’.” (On Contradiction).
Within the very heart of capitalism in Australia the process of production is at a fairly advanced stage of socialisation. In that same heart the process of private appropriation has been honed down to a fine point – a tiny handful of owners. Basically to enforce that is a well developed coercive state apparatus. And there is an all-pervading conflict of ideas.
This then is a general picture of the social process of change to socialism. Within that general picture specific questions arise as to how to attain socialism.