1934 Forward to Socialism
Issued by the National Conference of The Socialist League June, 1934
"Forward to Socialism" embodies the definite policy of the Socialist League as decided by its National Conference held at Leeds, May 20 and 21, 1934, in relation to current events and national and international problems.
It is issued as a pamphlet by the National Council of the League with the full authority of the Conference.
Forward to Socialism
Made increasingly desperate in the face of their inability to solve the vast economic and social problems created by private enterprise, the Capitalist forces have gathered in a universal effort to save themselves. Fascism and War threaten the workers. The Labor Movement of Britain is now the last main bulwark within Capitalist countries againt the wave of reaction the has swept across the world.
In this country, as in every Capitalist country, millions of workers are unemployed; real wages have been brought down to new low levels; social services have been ruthlessly cut; unemployment pay is near starvation level; the family and the individual have had thrust upon them the responsibility for maintaining the unemployed; the Means Test and the Anomalies Act bring misery to thousands; the Government still further penalises and divides the workless in its Unemployment Bill; deaths and ill-health from malnutrition accumulate; rationalisation drives men and women into compulsory idleness while long hours are the lot of their comrades; large section of the "middle classes" are being pressed down to poverty level; university trained men and women are unable to find employment; machinery is used not to lighten the labour of both clerical and manual workers but to increase unemployment; land is misued or goes out of cultivation; pits are empty and factories closed.
The mass of the people demand a sufficiency of food, shelter and warmth; they demand security of employment; leisure without financial anxiety; increased opportunities for cultural development; they cry out for peace between the nations; they ask that the great potential wealth of this country shall be harnessed to social advance. Increasingly they receive as their portion poverty, insecurity, unemployment, hunger, intensified exploitation; daily they are conscious of the imminence of Wars so terrible that the civilisation they know may well go down in disaster to barbarism.
Poverty or Plenty?
Right at the roots of this crisis, which brings such suffering and oppression in its train, lies the maintenace of the private owenership of the means of production at the very
time when it has ceased to be a progressive and expanding force in the evolution of society.
We are living to-day in a potential Age of Plenty, when the productive capacity of the world, thanks to man's technical and scientific conquest of nature, is so enormous that there should not be any man, woman, or child poor, ill-clad, ill-shod or badly housed. A steadily rising standard of living for the millions of workers can be achieved. But from the very fact that all production is governed by the demand of private property to receive its toll in rent and interest arises the tragic paradox that, while colossal wealth is piled up in the hands of the few, poverty, unemployment, ill-health, ruin and social degredation are the lot of the millions.
Because all the means from which are produced the necessities of life are privately owned and the products are distributed only on condition that from their production a private profit is secured, vast quantities of wheat are used as fuel for locomotives, coffee is thrown into the sea by thousands of tons, live stock is ruthlessly destroyed, land is forced out of cultivation so that prices may be forced up to a profitable level. Meanwhile millions of workers walk the streets unemployed, real wages decrease, slum increase, disease and desolation sprea.
Who dare speak of "prosperity returning" is a country where 5s. a week for the sustenance of a child is too great a burden; in a country where miners winning coal deep down in the earth receive less than £2 a week; in a country where skilled engineers for a full week's toil take home a meagre 58s.; in a country where the agricultural worker and his family face life on 30s. a week; in a country where millions of its "citizens" find insecurity and low wages their portion? Poverty is to-day, as it has been in the whole era of industrial Capitalism, the inevitable fate of the mass of human beings. It is Poverty the Socialist fights.
The Fruits of Anarchy
Capitalism moves inexorably towards an ever-deepening crisis. At times the movement may seem for a moment to be checked; at times the supporters of the system will hail the coming of "properity"-but the disease is incurable within Capitalism. The scramble for markets, which goes by the name of international trade, is in fact a fierce economic conflict leading, as the past abundantly proves, to the clash of armed forces. In every country the Capitalist class is now fighting for its own hand from behind tariff walls and restrictions which
grow ever higher. Every Capitalist power is waging a bitter currency war with every other power, each desperately striving to secure an advantage over the other. Internally, Capitalism calls on the State for protection and aid; State subsidies, State regulation of the profit systems and secured in its desperate attempt to bring regulation into the anarchy it has created and which it cannot destroy.
This appalling situation cannot be remedied unless we are prepared to change the whole economic system. Under Capitalism every individual owner of any of the means of production, farm, factory or mine, must be assured of such a price for his output as will enable him to receive or pay profits, rent and interest. Prices so fixed are too high to enable all those who need the commodities to purchase them. They have to subsist on low wages, the pittance of unemployment benefit, Poor Law relief, that rents profits and interest may be maintained. Capitalism, however much its defenders may claim, cannot distribute the goods it can produce. Millions of people, because of this, lack to-day the elementary necessities of life-- food, shelter, warmth; they suffer from unemployment because there is insufficient effective demand for the goods at the price at which they are offered in the market.
A World in Arms
Side by side with this economic chaos there proceeds a terrific armaments race--economic rivalry breeds of necessity its final product, devestating war. The Disarmament Conference has been transformed into an Armaments Conference which will create not peace but new groupings of Imperialist Powers. Japanese Imperialists, scorning half-hearted and insincere grumblings at Geneva, have, without regard to the rights of the Chinese people, turned Manchuria into a military base for the conquest of all China and waging war on the Soviet Union.
British Imperialists have met in Singapore for the reorganisation of their military, naval and air plans, ready for war in the Pacific. The U.S.A. has plunged into the armament race with vast new naval and air contructions. The "National" Government has in Britain declared its readiness to embark on huge extentions of war preperations--in the name of Defence. Fascism is re-arming Germany so that it shall become again a "first-class" military, naval and air power. Italy and France are armed to the teeth. The Soviet Union has been forced