Communist Party of Great Britain
Published: October 1969
Printer: Farleigh Press, Ltd., Watford, Herts
Author: Mick Costello
Transcription\HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Proofreader: Chris Clayton
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2006). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
Most people in Britain wonder what the future holds for them, their family and their friends. They want to know if it is possible to see a future free from the nagging worries of today, free from the poverty for millions and the homelessness. Will wages be able to keep up with prices, be enough to cover the payments on the house, the furniture or the car? Will there even be work to be had? Will there be peace in the world or nuclear annihilation?
People ask, can there be such a thing as a secure and happy future for all, or must the rat race continue? Is it inevitable that a small number of rich people should cream off most of the benefits of modern industry and technology, while the rest spend their days at heavy and often boring work, whether in pit, factory, building site, dock or in the home? Are things arranged like this for always because of faults of “human nature”, “man’s natural greed”, “power-seeking” and the like ?
Many ordinary people know that life can be improved to make it better for all. Communists believe that within the way our society is ordered today, there are already forces growing that can change it for a better one. The conviction that Communists have that life can be made happy for all comes from their study of life as it really is, and from the lessons learnt from the experience of fighting for a better future. It comes also from the study of what life was like in the past, how it has changed and what made it change.
It is not “human nature” that is the cause of the problems people face today. It is the way society is organised, with a minority of people owning and controlling the wealth, the industry of our country, and excluding the vast majority of the people from any real say in the running of society. This is what lies at the root of the problems that working people face. It is this system, which we call capitalism, that cannot guarantee security of employment, cannot provide the good things of life for all, cannot give a constantly improving standard of living for the millions and cannot guarantee peace in the world. It is this that must be changed. The working people who have produced all the wealth around us must come into ownership and control of what is their own by right, so that they can then build the society and produce the things they want.
Some people agree with this but cannot see that the necessary changes can really be brought about. Communists believe that conditions can be changed for the better if the people are willing to fight for this. The vast majority of the people gain nothing from capitalism and would lose nothing with its passing. Even today, although they do not own or control the industry of Britain, they in fact are turning the wheels that keep all industry going. With the ending of capitalism the people would also decide how this industry was to be run.
Communism is concerned more with people and change than with anything else. In the last century, when Darwin developed the science of the evolution of animals and man, when others showed that language, science and education all developed according to certain definite laws, Karl Marx discovered the laws which govern the development of human societies. He exploded the myth that man’s society alone is not subject to scientific laws. He found that there was a pattern to the way in which one form of society was changed by people for another, through struggle, and that underlying all change was the constant fight between the outgoing old and the incoming new. How these laws of society operate and how man plays a part in furthering them is the Marxist theory of history.
Our daily experience still confirms the truth of this scientific way of looking at human society. All around us and in all walks of life this struggle between the outgoing social formations and the new ones goes on. Thus we see that on a world scale, in an ever increasing number of countries, capitalism is being ended and control of their own lives is being taken over by the people themselves. Similarly, in country after country the old, colonial rule is being replaced by government by the people of the former colonies. In the major capitalist countries we can clearly see the daily struggle between the forces that represent capitalism and those of the workers who want a better life. It does not matter how solid and permanent the old social order may look, through the struggle of the working people it can be replaced by a social formation that corresponds more to the demands of the times and the aspirations of the people. The forces that initially appeared weak, if they represent the hopes of the people, eventually gain the upper hand.
Everything created and valued by men, all wealth, has been produced as a result of human labour being applied to the materials supplied by nature.
The way human labour has been used through the ages has depended both on the tools available and on the way men have been organised—the social order. Different social orders, like slavery, capitalism, and socialism correspond to different levels of man’s development in. harnessing the materials for his own use.
In the development of human societies there has been progression, sometimes gradual and at other times, in quick jumps. Basic to these changes have been developments in man’s tools, in industry and technology, what we call the means of production, which have led to changes in the ownership of these means of production. In our part of the world, most of Europe and the Mediterranean region, the societies gone through have included primitive communism, slavery, feudalism and now, capitalism.
This has nothing to do with what we speak of today as communism. When man first began increasing in numbers and families developed into tribes, the tools that man had at his disposal were of a very primitive character. They could barely provide man with enough food and shelter to keep him alive. To use these poor tools efficiently people had to co-operate. The task was tremendous and required the pooling of everyone’s efforts. Without this co-operation man would not have developed.
Industry was, at the earliest stages, confined to hunting and harvesting what nature herself supplied. There could be no special reward for any particular job above others, as there was not enough food and shelter to allow for this. In some parts of the world remnants of primitive communism survive to this day, in south east Asia and Africa.
As the quality of the tools that man used were improved, new industries were invented: farming, cloth making, and so on. For the first time man could produce more than he himself consumed. Tools became more complex and specialisation developed, the first division of labour.
Better tools allowed a man to produce more than he immediately consumed, allowed specialisation into farmers, hunters, soldiers and the priests, who carried out the mathematical calculations associated with astronomy that made it possible to work out a calendar so as to know when to plough, sow and reap. What people did not understand in the workings of nature they ascribed to the power of the “unknown”, to gods and other mysteries.
Some sections became strong enough to take more for themselves than the average share. As men could now produce more than they consumed, it became profitable not to kill prisoners, but to keep them alive and set them to work, as slaves or serfs. Clearly this introduced privilege for some at the expense of others. Wealth began to be concentrated in the hands of a minority of the population.
Thus we see the emergence of the first classes—masters and toilers. The masters are able to live from the labour of others. They either actually owned the workers (slaves) or restricted them in such a way as to produce the same effect.
The development of the means of production at the early stage of the first class societies, with the division of labour, stimulated production. It released a minority of people from immediate productive work to develop the sciences, mathematics and astronomy, the arts, particularly architecture and sculpture, and the first sophisticated ideas on life as a whole—philosophy.
Thus arose the first societies based on the exploitation of man by man. The rulers lived on the wealth created by the slaves or serfs. As the empires grew richer and “greater”, so the numbers of slaves in them increased and their conditions deteriorated. For the mass of people life was harsh and bitter. There were many rebellions against the masters. We find that as the first classes arose, so conflict between them came at the same time. Immediately there appeared the separation of people into owning and exploited classes the battle between them was on. Slaves fought masters; serfs fought lords; just as today, workers fight employers.
The new relations between men became codified in laws to prevent basic change in the relative positions of the classes taking place. The exploited were never to become equal with the masters, if the masters could prevent it. There arose a whole machine to organise society for the main benefit of the owner, the ruling class: the army, the police and the judges. To resist the power of “dangerous” ideas, the official religious institutions preached humility to the slaves, and the ideas that the organisation of society as it was was permanent, inalterable. Together these forces that defended the power and wealth of the rich constituted the state. The state arose as an instrument in the hands of the exploiters to keep them at the top of the pyramid. But no laws or police could ever stop the class struggle.
In England, in the seventeenth century a revolution took place which included the beheading of the king, Charles I.
This was, however, only the highest point of drama in a process that had been going on for some considerable time.
Within a system of society where the king and the nobles had ruled over a mass of peasants new processes of production were being tried out in the towns—manufacturing processes which had little in common with the traditional way of creating wealth, tilling the land. People were being organised to produce wealth in a new way, one that did not involve them in owning or renting plots of land to cultivate what they needed for immediate consumption and to pay rent and taxes. They were being organised to produce goods primarily for sale.
The laws and ownership of the time restricted this development. For instance, to raise large flocks of sheep for wool and for cloth conflicted with small scale agriculture. Wool production on a big scale did not need the heavily populated countryside, but, rather, open spaces. The lords lived by the rent they received from the heavily populated countryside and the supreme landlord was the king.
But new manufacturing processes in the towns needed the people to move from the land.
The conflict of interests between the old masters, the nobility, and the up and coming new, the traders and manufacturers, came to a head in the English Revolution. The result of the Civil War was to open up England to manufacture as the main method of production. The lords became rural and urban capitalists whose prime interest was the making of goods for sale.
The mass of the people under this new order of society ceased to own their tools to work the land, and came to work in the cities in the factories with tools owned by the capitalists.
In its early years, capitalism was not interested in people’s pedigrees but in hard work and in efficiency as the measure of a man.
It came in trumpeting “liberty, equality and fraternity”. With capitalism the mass of the people were brought into politics. This proved irreversible and, with the development of capitalism, the people have come to play a bigger and bigger part in political affairs.
It soon became clear that the capitalists understood freedom and equality only to allow themselves to become established, to break the power of the old order and to become the dominant class in a new way. Money, not man’s abilities, soon became their standard of measurement.
Capitalism did not end the division of society into a dominating minority and the exploited majority. The change that had taken place was mainly an adjustment of society, to allow the minority to continue exploiting the majority.
Under capitalism, a minority still controls the wealth of the nation (the raw materials, the factories and the land) and the majority work with machines in the factories that they do not own.
As in previous societies that are divided into classes, under capitalism, the interests of the opposing classes cannot be reconciled. There is class struggle between the employers on the one hand, and the workers on the other. Class struggle, or “strife”, as some would call it, is built into capitalist society, because it is not possible to satisfy the capitalists’ aspirations and those of the workers at the same time. The workers fight for better wages and conditions, and the capitalist lives to make the maximum profit out of the labour of the workers. Profits can only come from the value created by the workers. Hence the conflict. The capitalist is interested in organising the production of those goods alone which will make him a profit, while the worker is interested not in profit, but in being able to buy what he wants and needs. The higher the wages paid to the worker, the greater the threat to the capitalist’s profits.
This new system of society, capitalism, based on the production of goods for sale, had an important effect on the relations between countries. In order to make profit from its increasing production, the capitalists needed ever increasing markets for their goods. At first the capitalist countries established trading posts in other parts of the world. In order to protect these against one another the next step was to occupy these countries and to make them closed markets for their goods and safe suppliers of raw materials for the capitalist countries “back home.” These countries became colonies.
As capitalist exploitation became world-wide, so workers in different countries became linked in the productive processes and came more and more to see that they had common interests. These common interests were opposed by the interests of capitalists in all countries. One of the great services of Marx and his close collaborator Frederick Engels, was to found the first international organisation to unite workers of different countries in their fight for freedom against the capitalists. The watchword of these first modern Communists and the one that remains the slogan of Communists to this day was “Workers of all countries, unite!”
International support for one another’s struggles by working people is called internationalism. One of its earliest examples was described by Engels a hundred years ago—when the textile workers of Lancashire refused to handle cotton coming from the southern states of America because the profits made on this cotton went in part to finance the slaveowners in their war against the north and to keep the Negroes as slaves on their plantations.
As we have seen on earlier pages, there was a state apparatus both under slavery and feudalism, in both cases carrying out the function of trying to ensure that those who own the wealth of the country can hold down those who produce it. Despite this historical evidence, it is argued by some that the state does not really have such a function. It is suggested that the state is “above classes” (wherever that might be) and is politically neutral.
In fact, today, just as in the past, the state is the instrument through which the class that owns and controls the economy, the capitalists, is able to rule the workers. Far from being neutral, it acts in the interests of the leading capitalists. Today, for instance, it is used against the trade unions, to keep down wages and keep up profits. It keeps its army in other countries in order to preserve the rich profits which are made there by British capitalists and which could be used at home. It is composed of the permanent civil service, the staff of the ministries, the police, M.I.5, the army, navy and air force and the judges. It is staffed in its top positions of responsibility by members of the ruling class or, in rare exceptions, individuals from other sections of the population who are paid enough to think in the same way. Whenever the power of the ruling class is threatened, these forces, in whom is bred obedience to the monarchy and the system of private enterprise, are called in to “restore law and order”. It matters little whether the wealth of the capitalists is threatened by the people in Aden, Kenya, Wales, Scotland or England. When the British capitalists’ profits are threatened abroad, the army is used to “put out brush fires”, as the rulers contemptuously call the suppression of the colonial peoples’ movements for liberation. When seamen strike in Britain, force is threatened to get them back to work. When tens of thousands of people demonstrate in the streets for better conditions and changes in government policy the police step in and the judges hand out fines and prison sentences. The secret police, M.I.5, snoops on people, taps telephones and opens letters.
The state has direct control of the BBC. Wealthy firms and individuals control “independent” television and the mass circulation newspapers. The capitalists and their representatives in the state control education, films, our jobs and much of our leisure time.
It all seems so solid and permanent ... as once did slavery and then feudalism after it! But as pointed out earlier, within the capitalist system the force is being created and organised that will destroy capitalism and usher in socialism—the working class.
Classes are composed of men and women, of human beings. There is one phenomenon that is more important than all the propaganda of the ruling class, and this is experience, the experience of the reality that people go through in their struggles for a better deal. No matter what the capitalist-controlled mass media of radio, television and the newspapers tell people about capitalist Britain being the best of all possible worlds, experience belies this and teaches otherwise. People form organisations to fight the excesses of capitalism, and they come to learn the need for radical, basic change in the system if they are to win real advances. In this struggle, a theory that draws conclusions from the experience of struggle and which looks to a future society organised without exploiters, is an invaluable weapon when grasped by the people.
In order to organise modern industry in a profitable way, capitalism must have large factories and larger and larger firms which become monopolies. The workers are brought together in ever increasing units and are organised for production. This organisation has the other side to it, in that it teaches the workers organisation to defend their own interests. No such previous opportunity for organisation existed, either under slavery or feudalism. This is one major factor that makes the working class potentially so strong.
The other factor is the scientific theory of Marxism, which explains the class struggle, the nature of exploitation and the function of the state. From this the working class can draw the conclusions about what needs to be changed to win their country from the capitalists.
Since its birth, the working class has always fought the injustices of the capitalist system, and has been able to win higher wages, housing, education, a health service etc. This fight has limited the extent to which the powers of the state can be used, and to which the individual capitalists in their individual factories and federations can manoeuvre. In the course of their struggle the working class has founded its own fighting organisations of defence and attack. In the first instance, these are the trade unions. Their freedom of action, today again threatened by the state, was won at enormous cost to the founders, including imprisonment, deportations, lockouts and misery inflicted by the capitalists. The trade unions organise the workers for the day to day struggle under capitalism.
To change the system, however, bodies are needed that can generalise the experience gained in all the struggles, and give a perspective to the working class as a whole. Such an organisation is the Communist Party, based on the scientific theory of Marxism.
The most outstanding single contribution to working out the nature of such a working class party and to building the first one was made by V. I. Lenin, who founded the Russian Bolshevik Party at the beginning of this century.
Other organisations of struggle on particular issues are the cooperative societies, tenants’ associations, squatters’ campaigns, old age pensioners’ organisations, secondary school pupils’ associations, committees against racialism and for world peace, together with the hundreds of other bodies that are thrown up by the whole course of the struggle for a better and more secure life for the people of Britain and other lands.
The whole weight of the mass media is thrown against these organisations, yet they grow and develop because the people’s own experience shows the need for them. Men and women cannot be fooled by lies and false promises forever. It is to try to slow down people’s thinking, to withhold information, that the ruling class keeps such a tight check on the mass media, allowing real opposition viewpoints to an almost insignificant extent, and often forced to do so against its will.
While people think and act as individuals, they are effective as masses, as classes, to the extent to which they are organised together and conscious of what needs to be done. This is the lesson of hundreds of years of struggle. To be put into practice, to become reality, ideas must be adopted by the people. To bring about change, therefore, demands explanation of the facts and in a way that can be understood by the people in their millions.
Man’s struggle for a better life has never been confined to fighting for increases in wages, more to eat and better clothing. The working people have always placed a premium on democracy. Democracy for them has meant the right to fight for a better life. The fight for a working class press, for the right to free speech, organisation and assembly and the right to vote figure prominently in the struggles of the working class. None of these have been granted without enormous resistance from the ruling class, resistance that cost the people many martyrs. It is for this reason that the working class is the staunchest defender of the liberties that have been won. This is why today, when the state would like to curtail these liberties, it directs its main attack against the organisations of the working class, and why the working class leads the fight against it.
There is no better atmosphere in which people come to understand new ideas and sense the potential strength of the working class, than when they themselves are involved in action, fighting for their rights.
The trade unions were formed to improve the living conditions of the working class through struggle. At first they were defensive organisations, to stop the capitalist cutting standards and to stop workers undercutting one another when jobs were scarce. They are instruments of class struggle at the point of production, with their shock troops in the shop stewards’ movement.
Once capitalism got under way and it became clear that the freedoms the capitalists talked about meant freedom to exploit the people in a new way, there developed movements to win a say for the working class in the political affairs of the country. The Chartist movement for universal adult suffrage was one such movement in the first half of the nineteenth century. The fight for the vote (never granted, but won in the face of fierce and bloody obstruction) was continued up to 1928, when at last women in Britain won equal voting rights with men.
Around the beginning of this century the most politically minded sections of the working class realised that it was necessary to conduct the battle in the political field through their own party in Parliament. Hitherto, one of the capitalist parties, the Liberal Party, had secured most of the working class vote. The result was the foundation of the Labour Party, to represent the trade unions in Parliament. It was composed not only of the Trades Union Congress, but also of the Fabian Society, the Independent Labour Party and the Social Democratic Federation.
Following the first world war there developed a radical political climate born from the people’s determination never to allow such a butchery to take place again and the will to build a better life. Under the inspiration of the Russian workers’ achievement in winning power for the first time in history, the Labour Party Conference in 1918 amended its constitution to include the famous clause four which demands public ownership of the means of production. This was a political demand for ending the exploitation of man by man, a socialist demand.
These developments and the sharp class struggles that were taking place at the time against a ruthlessly organised ruling class also showed the need for the most class conscious workers to be organised in a party that would not only have a socialist programme, but be so organised as to be able to lead in the struggle against the capitalists and their state. To form such a party, in 1920, a number of socialist parties, groups and individuals came together in London to form the Communist Party. Its main constituent was the old British Socialist Party, which had been an affiliate of the Labour Party. Despite this, and the fact that the Labour Party was formed to unite the working class, the Labour Party leadership managed to prevent the affiliation of the young Communist Party as a whole, although it was some years before they managed to engineer the expulsion of individual Communists.
This split in the organised working class movement was brought about by the Labour leaders. They acted as representatives of one of the two main trends that have contested the leadership of the British labour and trade union movement since the 1880’s.
They belong to the reformist trend, represented by the succession of right wing leaders of the Labour Party, from Ramsay MacDonald, through Attlee and Gaitskell, to Harold Wilson and the like. They have always rejected the facts of the class struggle. Today they suggest that it might have existed in the past, but has gone out with history. They pretend that the state machine is politically neutral, having close to its heart the “interest of the whole nation”. They speak as if capitalism has now ended, and that what we now have is a democracy in which worker and capitalist (now renamed employer) can each have “a fair share of the national cake”. Nothing is said about who actually gets the biggest slice at present. Industrial unrest is put down to the scheming of trouble makers, varyingly described as “wildcats” or “tightly knit politically motivated groups”. The task before the nation, argue the right wingers, the reformists, is to rid the country of the agitators and reds and to settle down to increasing the size of “the national cake”, so that there will be enough for everyone, and all our problems will be solved.
They say nothing about the fact that capitalism is, by its very nature, incapable of continuous industrial growth. Under capitalism there is periodically stagnation of the economy and a consequent cut-back in consumption. The reformists argue that the cause of all Britain’s difficulties are the workers themselves; that they have been having it too easy and that they must be prepared to do more work without more pay. Sometimes, although this is becoming more and more infrequent, the reformists add that if we all accept their propositions, then, somehow or other, their policy will lead to socialism.
Apart from the last sentence this argument of course differs in no fundamental way from what the Tories have always put forward. The other trend in the British labour and trade union movement is that of the left militants and revolutionaries. It is represented by the Communists, and the Socialists in the Labour Party who have always fought to make Labour policy conform more to what Labour Party conferences have decided, and who believe in the public ownership of the means of production as much as the Communists. Within the trade unions there are also many militants who want to see the rooting out of capitalism. As you have seen described in this pamphlet, revolutionaries argue that the state is not neutral, that the class struggle is a living and ever-present reality in all spheres of life. We argue that capitalism owes its existence to the ability of a minority, backed by the power of the state machine and the mass propaganda media, to hang on to ownership of the bulk of the economy and derive enormous profits from the millions who work for a living.
Revolutionaries believe that, just as in the past, no progress in improving the lot of the working class will be brought about without the struggle of the people. Decisions can never be left to others.
To win fundamental change for the better for the vast majority of the population, the question of the ownership and control of the means of production is crucial. Democratic popular control must be brought into the economic and industrial world of Britain. This means that the land, minerals and factories, together with the banks, insurance and major trading outlets must be made the property of all the working people.
The people must win state power. They must take it out of the hands of the capitalists to ensure that the transfer of the economy to the people is carried out. The power of the capitalist state machine to resist the changes must be broken. This winning of state power and using it to build a socialist society is what Communists mean by the revolution that must take place in our country.
Just as all the reforms that Labour governments have carried out to date, taken in their entirety, have not shifted Britain one inch along the road to people’s rule, to socialism, so no continuation of the reforms that the right wing proposes will end in socialism. Today workers can defend and improve living standards and win extension of democracy. But they cannot solve the wages problem or complete the struggle for democracy while capitalism continues. This capitalist society demands, not patching up and blood transfusions, but the death blow to enable the introduction of socialism, an order of society that can manage the technological revolution to the benefit of the working people.
This is the title of the programme of the Communist Party. It is an application of the findings of the scientific theory of the development of human society, Marxism, to the particular conditions of our country in the second half of the twentieth century. It is modern, British and democratic. It puts forward a practical and lively perspective of achieving socialism through the struggle of the people.
No individual, no political party can do the job for the British people of ending capitalism and building socialism. This can only come about when the mass of the people engage in action themselves. It is in the course of taking part in the continuous struggles against the capitalist class, against its attacks on the living standards and democratic rights of the people, that people learn the need for the fundamental change, the revolution that will end capitalism.
Against the powers of the ruling class, the working class has the potential weapons of unity and organisation. These must be grasped. The working class and the professional people make up the overwhelming majority of the nation. No power on earth can stop their advance if they are united and have the understanding of how a socialist Britain can be achieved.
In its struggle for this better life the British people have tremendously powerful allies in all parts of the world. These are the people of countries that have already made the break with capitalism, or who are fighting for socialism and freedom against their capitalists or foreign domination.
Following on the Russian socialist revolution of 1917, which made the first breach in world capitalism, thirteen other countries have since thrown out their capitalists and have embarked on building socialism. There are countries building socialism now in Europe, Asia and Latin America, all under the leadership of Marxist parties. Together, these countries are a great force and, with the Soviet Union foremost among them, assist politically and materially the peoples of other countries fighting for freedom.
In almost every country in the world there are today Marxist parties similar to the one that Lenin lead to victory half a century ago. Taken together, these organisations embracing millions of Communists are a constant handicap to the capitalists and represent the future in those countries, without capitalists.
In many of the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America great liberation movements of the people are fighting, often with arms in hand, to free their countries from the domination of foreign capitalists, thereby winning their own freedom and weakening capitalism as a whole.
The successes of the peoples in the struggles for liberation and socialism in all other parts of the world are successes that benefit the British working people. Similarly, weaknesses, setbacks and mistakes made in this world-wide struggle can only bring joy to the capitalists. This is why British Communists, as true internationalists, today, as always in the past, support the fight of the working people in all countries, and oppose all attempts, no matter by whom, to dominate the people of any other country.
Our road to revolution in Britain is based on a careful study of the actual, not wishful, conditions in capitalist Britain and in the world as a whole. What distinguishes the approach of the Communists is precisely this fact. To conjure up a picture of how we would like to see socialism, and then to try and force this image on to reality is not our way. That is the dangerous road for dreamers.
The power base of capitalism is narrowing all the time. Giant monopoly firms and corporations are being built, swallowing up smaller competitors and ever reducing the number of capitalists themselves.
It was Lenin, again, who described this process at the stage it has reached in the 20th century. These monopolies wield enormous and undemocratic power over the country. They have a dominant control over the economy and sway governments to act in their interests, whatever may have been the promises the government made to the working people to get elected to Parliament. More and more decisions of national importance are in fact being taken in the boardrooms of the giant companies and the international monopolies. This constitutes a real threat to the democratic rights of the people. The fight to end capitalism, therefore, is a fight for democracy.
On one issue after another, be it wages, housing, schooling, pensions, the freedom to organise in free trade unions, questions of democracy, unemployment, and hundreds of others, the fight-back against the power of the monopolies and their state is taking place. Wielded together, led by the organised working class, the movement can be built into a wave to sweep out capitalism.
It is the magnitude of this opposition, taking in people from all walks of life outside the tiny handful of top capitalists, and the tremendous force that this movement will have when united under socialist leadership, that opens the possibility of forcing through the social transformation of society, the revolution, without civil war. This is a possibility that is not there in some parts of the world where the working class has not had the experience of organisation and the victories in the fight for democracy that the British working class has achieved. In some countries democratic institutions such as parliament and the local councils have not yet been won, and no other road is open to the people than outright armed struggle to win freedom for themselves.
This is in no way to suggest that in Britain things will be smooth and easy. We can see today with what vehemence the ruling class resists all popular reforms in their system. How much more will they have to prevent their means of exploitation and power being taken away and transferred to the people. None the less, it is to close one’s eyes to reality not to appreciate that in our country the working class and the other sections of the population that can be won to oppose capitalism constitute a force that could possibly prevent the capitalists resisting by armed methods and foisting civil war on the people. To do everything to make this possibility more real requires the building, cementing and strengthening of the movement of the people.
A mass alliance of all forces that oppose capitalism, conscious of the resistance that the capitalists will offer, could ensure that a socialist majority, when elected to Parliament, would not be overthrown by armed resistance. It would back up the MPs and ensure their carrying through of the changes in the state machine, the placing of working class representatives in all places of responsibility. This mass movement would support and defend the representatives in Parliament, and the MPs in their turn would react back by encouraging the mass movement, through passing laws to establish socialism. That is the prospect that appears possible today, and for which the Communist Party is organised to fight.
Clearly, the actual conditions of the social revolution will decide what socialism will look like in Britain. However, it is possible to say some things about this.
As I have pointed out, socialism means, above all else, that political power has been taken out of the hands of the capitalists and their representatives and placed in the hands of the people, led by that section which is best organised and most experienced in the fight against capitalism, the working class. It means that this political power is used immediately to place the economy in public ownership, taking it out of the hands of unelected monopolists. The workshops, the professions, the colleges and universities will be run on democratic lines. There will be ownership of industry as a whole by the people represented in the state. Together with this, the workers in particular factories and other public institutions will have their say in the control of those establishments. Clearly, those who work in a particular enterprise know more about its workings than anyone else.
From the present day organisation of production for private profit, the aim will be changed to production for use, production of what is wanted and needed by the people. Work will become more interesting and more meaningful to millions as its results will go entirely into benefits for the people. As more goods are produced, so working hours will be shortened. As the market is filled with particular goods, so production will be switched to other goods. This will be possible, because, for the first time in our history, the British economy will be planned. It will be planned by those who own it, the people, through the government, and at local level through the factory committees of workers. Under a planned economy it will be possible to end unemployment forever. This scourge, indeed the very threat of it, will be gone.
Industry will have a completely different purpose under socialism, to serve the people. Priority will be given to improving working conditions, expanding the social services, education and the care for the sick, the aged and the young. The present enormous wastage by which the same goods are sold by different competing companies, which spend millions on advertising to convince you that their product is best, will be replaced by real variety in goods. Choice will be more real and less of an illusion. Removal of wastage will save millions of pounds to be spent on improving life, on cutting prices and distributing more and more goods to people as social services.
Democracy will be extended in a way not possible under capitalism. Those democratic rights that the working people have already won will be safeguarded and protected from encroachment, by law. Free speech, freedom of assembly and organisation, the secrecy of the vote and freedom to write and to travel will be guaranteed. The trade unions and other mass organisations, will not only not be hampered in their work, but will be given a proper voice in the running of the country. They will retain the facilities they have for fighting for their viewpoint and representing the specific interests of their members, as organisations answerable to their members and independent of the state. Their right to strike will be safeguarded.
The socialist government will break the capitalist control of the TV, radio and press and use them to keep the people informed of what is being done, and encourage discussion of policy. Political parties, including those that are opposed to socialism will be free to contend for the people’s support. Only where attempts are made to break the laws of the country, and only if and when this happens, will the law be used againstparties or individuals. There will be no persecution of people for holding different political opinions.
Relations with other countries will be based on a footing of complete equality and sovereignty. Britain will become fully independent of US control, and the British people will be the only ones to decide on all matters, without exception, that concern the running of our country and its future. Those colonies which have not yet won their independence will be granted it. Land and industries in other countries that are controlled by British capitalists will be returned to their rightful owners, the people of those countries, and the troops that British capitalism stations abroad to exploit these countries today will be brought home. Relations of friendship with other parts of the world will end any excuse for the present wastage of several thousand million pounds a year on armaments. The money saved will be ploughed back into the people’s economy, to speed up the removal of all backwardness inherited from capitalism.
None of these improvements in the life of the people and the relations with other countries will come easily, simply by the passing of laws in Parliament. No one is so foolish as to think that the capitalists will give up easily. The socialist government will need to conduct a continuing battle against capitalist ideas in a most intensive struggle among the people. It will be on the watch for all moves by the previous ruling class illegally to return to power.
It is for this reason that at all times it will be of the greatest importance for the people to be vigilant, for unity of the forces of progress to be protected and for every single possible step to be taken to safeguard democracy and to involve people in their millions in actually carrying out the reforms in their factory and their area.
Life for the people will become secure, with the knowledge that there will be new freedoms added to those already won: the freedom to work; to have the proper facilities to bring up a family; to have equal opportunity with all other people in education, training and the like; the freedom to live in peace and friendship with other peoples; the freedom to develop one’s abilities and talents; the freedom to have holidays and leisure-time.
During the construction and building of socialism there will be great difficulties in overcoming the ideas that are deeply embedded in many people’s minds; ideas that are throwbacks to previous societies, about the inequality of men, of the sexes; ideas that are racialist; other ideas, that were necessary for survival under capitalism, but which become outdated in a co-operative society of socialism. The battle between these old ideas and the new ones will be fierce and sharp, but it will be conducted in the open and by argument and not by coercion.
Socialism will enable us to overcome the brakes on progress of capitalism. It will release the creative energies of the mass of the people, making it possible to build an industrial base that will be able to meet their needs in food, clothing and shelter, and will open vast horizons of cultural and educational possibilities for millions. Man will be freed from worry about basic material needs as we know them today, and will be able to meet new ones of which we as yet have no conception.
Equality of the sexes will enormously increase the contributions that women can make to society and to their own development. Women doctors, engineers and pilots will accelerate the speed with which life is made richer and more plentiful. Creches and kindergartens will release those women who wish it from the home.
The next stage is communism. Then different classes will, in fact, cease to exist, as all people make their contribution to the productive life of society. The oppressive functions of the state as we know them will become redundant, and will wither away as they fall out of use. What will remain will be only a democratic administration of production in the hands of the people.
Man will be able to develop his own personality and talents to the full. With the harnessing of science and technology to industry, boring and repetitive work will be eliminated. Work for all will become as it is today for only a very small minority—interesting and satisfying.
The essential difference between town and country will be ended, as housing, travel and cultural facilities become available to all people. The boundaries between mental and physical labour will be removed as all people receive the freedom and means by which to exercise their potential, their talents and abilities.
But things do not stop there. There will never be a time when man has solved all problems and then sits down to live like a cabbage. What happens is that the problems change. They become more worthy of our time and attention.
Life for all will be plentiful, secure, happy and interesting. This is the stage of communism. Winning socialism will open up for us the possibility of building communism in our country. It will not mean the end of questions and problems, but the end of those worries about wages, housing, poverty, peace that dominate our lives today.
The building of this new society in our country is the aim of the Communist Party.