1951 What Socialism Means [SLP]

Leaflet distributed in 1951 by the Socialist Labor Party of America.

SOCIALISM MEANS collective ownership by all the people of the tactories, mills, mines, railroads, land and all the other instruments of wealth-production. Socialism means production of things to satisfy human needs, and not, as under capitalism, for sale and profit. Socialism means free access to and democratic management of the industries by the workers through Industrial Union Councils.

FOR YOU, as an individual, Socialism means a full, happy and useful life. It means the opportunity to develop all your faculties and latent talents. It means that, instead of being a mere chattel bought and sold in the labor market, an appendage to a machine, an automaton, a producer of wealth for the aggrandizement of idlers, you will take your place as a human being in a free society of human beings, and a participant in its councils.

YOUR INCOME, as a wage worker, under capitalism is determined by what your labor power, as a commodity, will bring in the market. By and large, taking into account the ebb and flow of the labor market, you receive a living wage — the minimum amount necessary to feed, clothe and house you and your family. What you produce over and above your wages is appropriated by your employer who divides it with the banker, landlord, politician and sundry capitalist hangers-on. Under Socialism you will receive the full social value of your product.

That is, after the Socialist Industrial Union, to which you belong, makes the necessary deductions for replacing used-up raw materials and machines, for expanding productive facilities, and for the maintenance of public services, such as hospitals, schools, etc., you will receive directly the value of the remainder of your product. How much would this be ? For one thing, it would include the stupendous wealth now yielded to the parasitic capitalist class which the capitalists divide among themselves as profit, interest, rent, taxes, insurance premiums, royalties, fabulous salaries, real estate and advertising fees, etc. But even this fails to convey an accurate picture of your well-being under Socialism. For Socialism, by eliminating the scandalous waste resulting from capitalist anarchy, and by accelerating the adoption of new techniques and inventions, will greatly increase the wealth available for the people’s consumption and enjoyment.

Improved technology, especially automation, has greatly increased the productivity of American workers. And while, under capitalism, the workers are denied the fruits of technology, under Socialism it will insure material well-being for all beyond the dreams of avarice. Taking all the factors into consideration, the elimination of waste, of capitalist parasitism, and the removal of all restrictions to improved techniques, it is safe to say that, under Socialism, you will receive many times that which your wages will buy today.

YOUR JOB under Socialism will not be dependent on the caprices either of a private employer or the capitalist market. When things are produced to satisfy human needs, instead of primarily for sale and profit, involuntary idleness will be an impossibility. The « demand, » instead of being limited to what people can buy, will be limited only to what people can use. Nor will technological unemployment be possible under Socialism. Instead of kicking workers out of their jobs, the improved methods and facilities will kick hours out of the working day. « Jobs for all » under capitalism is a hypocritical slogan, except possibly when capitalism is preparing for, or engaged in, an all-out war. Socialism alone can give jobs for all and open wide the doorway to economic opportunity.

YOUR HOURS of work under Socialism will be the minimum necessary to fulfill society’s needs. Work is not the end and aim of man’s existence; it is the means to an end. We do not live to work; we work to live. Socialism will, therefore, strive in every way to lighten the labor of man and give him the leisure to develop his faculties and live a happy, healthful, useful life. It is estimated that, with the facilities we now have, by the elimination of capitalist waste and duplication, and by opening jobs at useful work to all who are now deprived of them, we could produce an abundance for all by working four hours a day, four or five days a week, and forty or forty-five weeks a year.

THESE ARE a few of the direct and elementary benefits that you will derive from Socialism. To them may be added a multitude of corollary benefits.

DEMOCRACY is the foundation of this infinitely better world for which the material conditions are already present. Capitalist democracy is limited to the political field. Even there it is restricted and in constant peril. On the economic field, despotism prevails. Capitalism gives to the owning class the terrifying power to hurl millions upon the mercy of charity with a stroke of the pen. Socialism destroys this despotic power, and creates an economic foundation for complete democracy.

UNDER SOCIALISM, management authority, instead of being imposed arbitrarily from above, will come from the ranks below, i.e., management authority will be delegated from below. The Socialist Industrial Union will manage and direct over-all production. In each plant the Socialist Industrial Union will supervise operations through a council ot management committee elected by the rank and file. In each shop within the plant, every worker, including yourself, will participate directly, through a shop council-of-the-whole, in carrying out the directions of the management committee. The shop council will elect a foreman and make such other decisions as are necessary for the efficient operation of the shop.

Such is the full-flowered democracy of Socialism – that complete democracy which has in its composition the maximum amount of the ingredient Thomas Jefferson described as « the direct action of the citizens. » It will be a democracy solidly based on that primary freedom which, ultimately, is the foundation of all freedoms — ECONOMIC FREEDOM!

YOU ARE NEEDED to help bring to fulfillment the promise of abundance and human happiness that this age offers. You are needed to help avert the re-enactment of capitalist tragedy — of mass unemployment and an even more catastrophic third World War. You are needed in the fighting ranks of Socialism. Study the program of the Socialist Labor Party. Prepare yourself to prepare others. Help us to unite the working class politically to demand the unconditional surrender of capitalism. Join with us to consolidate the workers’ power into one all-powerful Socialist Industrial Union to back up the Socialist ballot by taking possession of the instruments of production and locking out the outvoted, usurping capitalist class.

ASPIRATIONS that are petty and mean must be cast aside; this age demands that the workers think in class terms, for it is only through class action that the conquest over poverty and degradation can be won. Seniority, social security reforms, housing plans and patchwork measures generally are schemes to keep you mentally imprisoned in the vicious circle of capitalist thought. Break this thraldom of the mind! Instead of illusory « social security » under capitalism, proclaim as your goal the goal of the working class:

THE WORKSHOPS TO THE WORKERS!

THE PRODUCTS TO THE PRODUCERS!

ALL POWER TO THE SOCIALIST INDUSTRIAL UNION!

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