George Walford: How to Get Rid of Capitalism

The Socialist Standard of September 1981 tells us why capitalism survives:

The capitalist social system continues in existence, not because it is efficient or beneficial or controllable. The very opposite is true: it exists because, in spite of the facts of experience, the people under it will it to continue. – p. 162

The official journal of the Socialist Party tells us that capitalism continues because the people who suffer under it will it to continue, and according to the party those who suffer under capitalism are the workers. Capitalism, the article is saying, continues because the workers will it to continue, and this experiment is no isolated slip. The same article goes on to drive the point home: “This working class support for [capitalism],” “the working class stand up for capitalism,” “the workers crowd to the polling booths [and cast] tens of millions of votes […] urging capitalism to carry on as before.” The Socialist Standard is saying, and means to say, that capitalism survives because the workers will it to continue. And in saying that it is clearly speaking in agreement with the party case, which maintains that when a majority of workers understand and vote for socialism then capitalism will be ended.

But if this is so, then what is the meaning of the statement, in Clause Number One of the Declaration of Principles, that capitalism “is based upon the ownership of the means of living by the capitalist class or master class, and the consequent enslavement of the working class”?

If enslavement of the workers is “consequent” upon ownership of the means of living by the capitalists then it is going to continue so long as that ownership continues and anything the workers may or may not will is at most a secondary matter.

But if capitalism with its “enslavement of the workers” exists “because” the workers will it to continue then it is going to continue so long as that willing continues, and it is capitalist ownership that is as is at most a secondary matter.

This has been put to members of the Socialist Party and their response was to assert that the willing and the ownership are linked. They poured scorn upon the critic so simple-minded as to think that either could be the cause of capitalism’s continuance. They did not see that in saying this they were contradicting the party’s statements that “enslavement of the workers” is a consequence of capitalist ownership and that capitalism continues because the workers will it to continue.

The Socialist Party claims that their case cannot be defeated in argument. This claim is valid. Their case for socialism consists of circular arguments, truisms and self-contradictions and these cannot be argued against; to attempt to do so is like trying to cut air with a sword. But by the same token it is not necessary to oppose these “arguments”; one need only recognise them for what they are. To understand the socialist case is to reject it.

from Ideological Commentary 12, August 1984.