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Facebook Twitter Pinterest Share. Description The 50th anniversary edition of the book that changed English Politics. This act of historical justice would help lo wipe out the bitterness of the past, and would enormously strengthen Britain on a new democratic basis. All relations between the peoples of the present Empire which are based on political, economic and military enslavement must be ended, and replaced by relations based on full national independence and equal rights. This requires the withdrawal of all armed forces from the colonial and dependent territories and handing over of sovereignty to Governments freely chosen by the peoples.
Only by this means can Britain be assured of the normal supplies of the vital food and raw materials necessary for her economic life, obtaining them in equal exchange for the products of British industry, needed by those countries for their own economic development.
This would provide the basis for a new, close, fraternal association of the British people and the liberated peoples of the Empire. Only on this basis can true friendship be established between the peoples of the present Empire to promote mutually beneficial economic exchange and co-operation, and to defend in common their freedom against American imperialist aggression.
Socialism means an end to capitalist profit and exploitation, for it will deprive the capitalists of their ownership and control of the factories and workshops, mills and mines, banks and land, shipyards and transport, and ensure that production is organised for the use of the people and not for the profit of the tiny minority of capitalists. Socialism means an end to slumps and unemployment, to which the capitalist system gives rise because it restricts the consumption of the mass of the people, while the productive power of society constantly increases. Socialism means peace and an end to the danger of wars, because under Socialism there are no longer capitalists who want to conquer new markets, and to exploit the colonial and dependent peoples and cheap labour.
Socialism ends all the restrictive policies of capitalism in regard to the working people. It ends the gulf between poverty and plenty, and frees the creative energies of the people and the productive resources of the nation for gigantic economic, social and cultural advances on the basis of a planned socialist economy. Socialism means freedom for the people—freedom from poverty and insecurity, freedom for men, women and children to develop their capacities to the full, without fear or favour.
For women it means equal rights with men in the social, economic and political life of the nation; for young people, the opening of new opportunities with the whole resources of the country behind them; for the family, a real home life, fuller interests and closer ties based on security and new respect for the individual. But Socialism means the abolition of capitalism.
The Labour leaders do not want to abolish capitalism.
The working people of Britain in industry and agriculture form the immense majority of the population and constitute with their families fully two-thirds of the population. To these must be added the great bulk of the clerical and professional workers, the teachers, technicians and scientists, the working farmers, shopkeepers and small business men, whose interests are equally threatened by the big landowning, industrial and financial capitalists, and whose security and future prospects are closely bound up with those of the industrial working class.
Together these represent a mighty political force, fully capable of defeating the present exploiters and rulers of the British people and returning a majority to Parliament which represents the interests of all working people, and a Government determined to carry through, with the active political and industrial backing of the people, a policy that will open out a new and glorious future for Britain.
But at present this potentially mighty political force is split and divided, misled by the propaganda of the ruling class and the policy and outlook of the right-wing leaders of the Labour Party and the right-wing leaders of the trade unions and co-operative organisations, who in practice support the ruling class and carry on the Labour Government in the interests of capitalism. Despite the democratic rights which have so far been won by the struggles of the people, the real power in Britain is still concentrated in the hands of the tiny section of rich property-owners.
They control the land, large-scale industry, finance and trade; their representatives hold the commanding positions in the Civil Service, the Armed Forces, the Judiciary, the Diplomatic and Colonial Services; they also control the greater part of the newspapers and periodicals, the B. Democracy under present conditions is restricted for the majority of the people by the privilege and power of the wealthy few and their agents, and is being reduced by attacks on the rights of free speech and organisation, and on the right to strike.
The democratic rights won by years of working-class struggle must be defended with the utmost strength against the attacks of the capitalists and warmongers and their agents. The people cannot advance to Socialism, therefore, without real political power, which must be taken from the hands of the capitalist minority and firmly grasped by the majority of the people, led by the working class. Only by this means can democracy become a reality. This is a slanderous misrepresentation of our policy. Experience has shown that in present conditions the advance to Socialism can be made just as well by a different road.
Britain will reach Socialism by her own road. Break the power of the millionaire monopolists and other big capitalists by socialist nationalisation of large-scale industry, the banks, big distributive monopolies, insurance companies and the land of the large land-owners, and introduce a government monopoly of foreign trade. Introduce a planned economy based on socialist principles aimed at fundamental social change.
Transform the existing unequal imperialist Empire into a strong, free, equal association of peoples by granting national independence to the colonies. This broad popular alliance of all sections of the people determined to end the arbitrary power of the rich over the future of Britain, can be built only on the basis of a united working class as its decisive leading force—the class that is most concerned in the struggle for a new order of society. The Labour Party, with its present policy and under its present leadership, is preventing the building up of such an alliance and splitting instead of uniting the working-class movement.
The right-wing Labour leaders act as the main supporters of capitalism, and are doing their best to safeguard the privileges and profits of the capitalists, and providing them with opportunities to continue their exploitation of the British and colonial peoples. They are not carrying through those decisive measures which are urgently needed in the present and future interests of the British working people, but are safeguarding the privileges and profits of the property-owners and their exploitation of the British and colonial peoples. The present leadership of the Labour Party is disrupting and demoralising the Labour Movement by its poisonous propaganda of collaboration with and capitulation to capitalism, and its betrayal of every principle on which the British Labour Movement was formed.
Such a struggle is also necessary to secure higher wages and salaries, more houses, schools and hospitals, the raising of benefits and pensions, and on all issues which affect the people. It is through this struggle that the unity of all workers by hand and brain, of professional people and farmers, can develop into a movement strong enough to defeat the rich and their defenders in the Labour Party and to ensure peace and a future for all working people.
Because of this working class unity, the United action of all sections of the working-class movement—Labour, trade union, co-operative and Communist—is the vital need. The whole legislative and executive machinery of the country will be made continuously responsive to the democratic will of the people, and the whole of the people will be drawn into active participation in the control and administration of every sphere of national life.
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National arbitration would be abolished and full powers of collective bargaining on wages and conditions restored, the socialist economic plan ensuring the basis for steadily advancing wages and conditions. The trade unions would participate in drawing up the economic plan and in the administration of the nationalised industries, nationally, regionally and in every factory. They would participate in the work of the Ministry of Labour and National Insurance and ensure the operation of the labour laws. Similarly, the Co-operative organisations, with their accumulated experience, would play a responsible part in the organisation and control of distribution and supplies.
The electoral system would be democratically reformed with proportional representation and votes at eighteen, and the House of Commons would be made the sole national authority, freed from the restrictive influences of the House of Lords and the Monarchy. The millionaire-owned newspapers will be taken over and placed at the disposal of working-class and democratic organisations, so that the policy expressed in these journals is that of the working people, and their influence can strengthen the determination of the people to carry through the decisive changes in the social order.
The B. Freedom of religious worship will be guaranteed, and all religious creeds and beliefs respected. The Government will rely on the strength of the organised workers to ensure that the programme decided upon by Parliament is operated in practice, and that all attempts to resist or sabotage it are defeated; and the enemies of the working class brought to justice.
It would be wrong to believe that the big capitalists will voluntarily give up their property and their big profits in the interests of the British people. The power of the working people, uniting all sections who recognise the need for social change and participate in carrying it through, as expressed and laid down through the elected Parliament, is alone capable of securing peace, high wages for working people, raw materials for British industry and markets for British goods, and creating the conditions for the establishment of Socialism in Britain.
It is necessary, not only to break once and for all the power of monopolists, but to place industry in the hands of the people. Socialist nationalisation is necessary to put an end to capitalist profit-making and exploitation of the workers, to ensure control over our economic life and make economic planning a reality, and to lay the basis for a great advance in the living conditions of the people. The National Debt and stock representing compensation for industries previously nationalised will be annulled.
This socialist nationalisation differs fundamentally from the measures of capitalist nationalisation carried out by Tory, Liberal or Labour Governments, which have nothing in common with Socialism, and have aroused the widespread criticism of the workers. The capitalist nationalisation measures carried out by the Labour Government have extended only to a limited section of industry, leaving in private capitalist hands the main fields owned by big business from which it draws its profits.
This nationalised section of industry has covered mainly auxiliary services, providing transport and power for capitalist industry, which were proving inefficient and even yielding a loss under private capitalist management. Thus these measures of state ownership were beneficial to capitalism as a whole, and in no way changed the capitalist character of British economy any more than similar measures carried out by Bismarck or Hitler, or British Tory Governments in the past. Capitalist nationalisation make no change in the exploitation of the workers, because the compensation paid to the former owners guarantees to them the continuance of their unearned income at the expense or the workers, with the added safeguard of state power to ensure its payment.
The capital held by the capitalists remains the same; only the form of stock is changed. But the purpose of capitalist nationalisation is not only to keep up the compensation payments to the former owners. Its aim is also to benefit the employers in the rest of industry by supplying them with goods and services at a cheap rate. It is for these reasons that the workers in the nationalised industries are being speeded up and their wages kept low.
Capitalist nationalisation is being used to benefit capitalism as a whole at the expense of the workers in the nationalised industries.
CPGB: The British Road to Socialism ()
Socialist nationalisation, on the contrary, ends once and for all the robbery of the workers for the benefit of private owners, lifts the burden of rent, interest and profit from the shoulders of the working people, and makes the whole product of industry the property of the whole people. Capitalist nationalisation is bureaucratically administered. The governing Boards of the nationalised industries are dominated by the former owners or their associates.
The change is only a change in form; the workers continue to be ruled by capitalist bosses. Socialist nationalisation completely eliminates the capitalists and their representatives. The Governing Boards are composed completely of the workers and technicians. A new kind of left-wing doctrine is emerging. Capitalism had won and socialism became a byword for economic failure and political oppression. It limped on in fringe meetings, failing states and the turgid liturgy of the Chinese Communist Party.
Today, 30 years on, socialism is back in fashion. In America Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a newly elected congresswoman who calls herself a democratic socialist, has become a sensation even as the growing field of Democratic presidential candidates for veers left.
The Future of Socialism The Book That Changed British Politics
Socialism is storming back because it has formed an incisive critique of what has gone wrong in Western societies. Whereas politicians on the right have all too often given up the battle of ideas and retreated towards chauvinism and nostalgia, the left has focused on inequality, the environment, and how to vest power in citizens rather than elites see article. Yet, although the reborn left gets some things right, its pessimism about the modern world goes too far. Its policies suffer from naivety about budgets, bureaucracies and businesses. In the s left-leaning parties shifted to the centre.
Nobody was fooled, especially not socialists. The left today sees the third way as a dead end. Many of the new socialists are millennials.
Almost a third of French voters under 24 in the presidential election in voted for the hard-left candidate. But millennial socialists do not have to be young. Not all millennial socialist goals are especially radical. In America one policy is universal health care, which is normal elsewhere in the rich world, and desirable. Radicals on the left say they want to preserve the advantages of the market economy. And in both Europe and America the left is a broad, fluid coalition, as movements with a ferment of ideas usually are.
Nonetheless there are common themes. The millennial socialists think that inequality has spiralled out of control and that the economy is rigged in favour of vested interests. They believe that the public yearns for income and power to be redistributed by the state to balance the scales. They think that myopia and lobbying have led governments to ignore the increasing likelihood of climate catastrophe.
Some of this is beyond dispute, including the curse of lobbying and neglect of the environment. Inequality in the West has indeed soared over the past 40 years. But the new new left also gets important bits of its diagnosis wrong, and most of its prescriptions, too.