Socialism implies that all will have free and equal access to the means of living. Anything else, whatever it may be, is not socialism. Social equality, we are told, is a dream. A vague, utopian concept with no place in practical politics. Unfortunately, that view is also held by the majority of the working class. It is not surprising that the ordinary, average working man believes that existing inequalities are eternal and inevitable, when the self-styled intellectuals who offer themselves as his leaders, share the same misconception who repeat the same old refrain “if we all started from scratch it would be the same all over again. Some would have, and others would not. The brainy and the thrifty would become rich, the dull and lazy would be poor."
We, too, are also aware of physical and mental inequalities in men, but we also know that these differences are greatly exaggerated. What those “thinkers” fail to understand is that all men and women are equal in one overwhelmingly important respect. The individual, no matter what his or her physical and mental development, is entirely dependent upon the efforts of the whole of society for one's existence and comforts. Socialism is a recognition of the interdependence of men and women all over the world. It is not a sharing-out process where everybody will start off with equal shares. Human society is not a race-track, nor is it a jungle, even though it may give that appearance to superficial observers.
The equality of Socialism does not mean that we shall all be obliged to eat exactly the same quantities of food, and wear exactly the same kind of clothes, or even work exactly the same number of hours It means that every member of society will receive what he requires for his own personal needs, and of the best that can be provided for him. And in return, he would be under the obligation of working in whatever capacity he was able to work, in line with his abilities, taste, or health. It would put an end to the existence of a class of property owners enabled to live without working by the exploitation of those who work. The very clever, the ordinary and the foolish, will have the same social standing. There is no absolute law of nature which lays it down that a very clever man must eat more food, or wear more clothes, than a less gifted man, or that he needs a larger house, and an army of servants to wait on him. Very clever people do not get these things to-day by mere virtue of their cleverness; they can only have what opportunity and social conditions allow them to take, and capitalists only pay for those “clever” qualities which enable them to pile up more profits.
We know that men and women must work together, and in working together they are equals. Socialism is a system of ownership which is consistent with the existing method of production. We say, that as wealth is produced in common it could be owned in common. Social equality is now a necessary condition for the fuller development of society, and this can only obtain with the common ownership of the means of production.
We urge the workers to rid themselves of their slavish notions. Wage-slaves they are, but they also have the power to free themselves. They are only held in subjection with their own consent. When they decide to establish a social order which is consistent with their interests there will be no power on earth to stop them. A world of wealth, as yet relatively undeveloped, is awaiting their strength and ingenuity. Its almost incalculable resources will never be extended to their fullest whilst allowed to remain in the hands of a minority.
Force and violence are not revolution. Revolution to World Socialists means the complete change from capitalism to socialism, achieved by the control of political power by an organised and informed working class. Not a revolution of a section of workers; not a seizure of government by a few intent on dictatorship, but an organised action on the part of the majority of the workers who see the necessity of becoming politically supreme in order to transform the economic system. The revolution is made necessary by economic development, and it can only be successful if the working class understands the socialist position. Hence, the educational work of the World Socialist Movement.
Source | Socialist Courier | Adapted
Passion for Socialism