Assumption and Ignorance Versus Reason and Reality
The following letter came from a contact who apparently chose not to read the literature sent to him, or assumed that the literature did not represent the actual ideas of the World Socialist Movement (WSM).
It is reproduced here, with the response from the Socialist Party of Canada, in the hope that others, somewhat more willing to reason, are willing to at least hear the socialist case of the World Socialist Movement and perhaps consider it on its merits rather than assuming that they have the ability to understand what we are about, without reading what we have to say.
You cannot possibly understand the contradiction inherent in your sending me, with the hopes of influencing my thinking, your fascist tripe.
I have been studying Liberty and Individual Freedom for 35 years, and there is nothing new about socialism you could possibly teach me. Therein lies a curiosity: if one studies Liberty, one learns about the vile nature of socialism, but apparently if one studies socialism one learns nothing about Freedom. This of course is because in the first place the necessity is innate; in the second it is willful blindness. The purpose of Liberty is Individual Freedom; the purpose of socialism is slavery. The two philosophies are diametrically opposed. Yet they are the only choices available to humanity. Freedom or Slavery. And if one studies slavery, e.g. U.S.S.R., China, Rumania, Albania, Cuba, Attila the Hun, you will inexorably discover the core evil of socialism. I can well understand your not considering the possibilities of Good & Evil. How could you live? You should, however, because that way you could label your shit good, and my good evil.
You can sit there in Victoria, B.C. and watch what has happened to the economic and social stability of Canada, where by virtue of the Welfare State (socialism), the State has taken control of the means of production of wealth, by the simple expedient of sucking the privately produced wealth out of the nation in the name of socialist morality to the point where this nation is technically bankrupt; fiscally, morally and intellectually, and still expound your stillborn ethics?
Ayn Rand, (remember her?) wrote the good is that which is good for Life: Evil is that which is detrimental to Life. In you philosophy, of course, it is YOU who would manage our society, because essential socialism demands management, which means regulation, which means control, which means slavery. It specifically denies the Nature of the Beast, which is naturally Freedom.
In Liberty men act freely and benefit personally from the proceeds of their effort, their skill, their knowledge, their time; in short, their lives. Socialism holds that to be (I won't say evil) immoral. By whose code of morality?
By the way, shouldn't morality be inherent in nature? Why does man have to invent and impose morality? And wouldn't morality, if it were inherent in nature simply be "the entity living precisely according to its nature?" The wolf, in killing and eating the doe-eyed Bambi deer, is being absolutely moral in the most profound sense of that word: he is doing exactly what he must do according to his nature.
By that measure, perhaps you are doing what you must do according to your nature, and if that is true, then perhaps you should simply hang yourself. That would be the most moral act you would ever perform in your entire misbegotten life.
Socialism has robbed every single individual Canadian, (and that is all we are, individuals) past, present and generations to come, of over 50% of their Life values. They have worked, which is their nature, and have had over 50% of their produce extorted, expropriated, and confiscated out of their lives. Your solution is to give us more of the same, but under YOUR direction.
Take a good look in the mirror Mister, and tell me you like what you see. If you do, I will show you a moral abomination devoid of even a shred of conscience.
At the outset it is important to note that the World Socialist Movement (WSM) offers no apologies for other groups claiming to be socialist, or for definitions of "socialism" which differ from ours. The WSM is responsible only for its own actions and principles, and can be rationally judged only on the basis of those actions and principles.
It is impossible for anyone or any group to defend itself against accusations that it is lying, except to show a consistent historical record of its claims and statements, and to be completely open to investigation. The WSM has this record for anyone to review. There are over a thousand issues of the Socialist Standard dating back to 1904. There are hundreds of issues of our other journals. Every WSM meeting is open to the public (including the boring business meetings).
Point-by-point responses to FT's letter.
…your fascist tripe…
dictionary: FASCISM: Any authoritarian system of government characterized by state economic control, militaristic nationalism, propaganda, and the crushing of opposition.
dictionary: PROPAGANDA: scheme or effort to spread or promote an idea or opinion.
The World Socialist Movement (WSM) in its 90+ years of existence has always opposed the state, militarism, nationalism, nations, and the crushing of opposition.
Propaganda is a major activity for the WSM, although the size of the WSM currently prevents significant spread of our propaganda.
…there is nothing new about socialism you could possibly teach me…
If FT does not wish to learn, the WSM can teach him nothing. There was a time when the vast majority believed that the earth was flat. Some decided to review the facts. Many people now do not believe that the earth is flat.
Knowing about what others (or FT) say is socialism does not, in any way, mean that one knows about what the WSM has to say about socialism. FT evidences absolutely no understanding of what the WSM has to say.
The purpose of Liberty is Individual Freedom; the purpose of socialism is slavery…
It is irrational to claim that socialist society, without government, with only voluntary labour, where every individual has an equal say in how society works, is slavery. Socialism means far more individual liberty than workers can possibly have under capitalism.
…they are the only choices available to humanity. Freedom or Slavery. And if one studies slavery, e.g. U.S.S.R., China, Rumania, Albania, Cuba, Attila the Hun, you will inexorably discover the core evil of socialism.
Because the WSM has stated its reasons (from day one) for claiming that none of the above mentioned are or were socialist, and because our literature (and understanding of socialism) opposes the underlying structures of FT's examples, we cannot understand how any of them display any supposed "core evil of socialism".
It is perhaps interesting to note that FT does not mention any of the avowedly capitalist states which display many (or perhaps all) of his supposed "evils".
…what has happened to the economic and social stability of Canada…
This has nothing to do with socialism, which is not in existence anywhere.
…the Welfare State (socialism)…
FT is free to define anything he wants as socialism, even though it is not useful to the rational exchange of ideas. The WSM has never considered the Welfare State to be anything but a capitalist measure to prevent socialism. Nor has the WSM at any time promoted any of the concepts of the Welfare State, such as state sponsored education, state welfare payments, old age security schemes, unemployment insurance, state paid medical coverage.
…the State has taken control of the means of production of wealth, by the simple expedient of sucking the privately produced wealth out of the nation…
The Canadian state has done no such thing. In the few cases where the state does control production, it is simply to benefit the other private owners of the means of production. As the power of the different sectors of the capitalist class changes, so do those industries controlled directly, and or regulated by the state. It is difficult to lend much credence to FT's claim when it is clear that the extremely rich are still extremely rich.
The WSM makes no claims to "morality". The WSM has always claimed that morality (as understood by most) is not a driving social factor (more on this later), but instead that economic conditions drive most everything and that economic and individual self-interest, not morality, is the motivator for socialism.
…it is YOU who would manage our society…
The WSM has always held that socialism can only be established by a vast majority of society and that a 51% majority (for example) was far from adequate to enable the establishment of socialism.
The WSM has always promoted its own demise because in socialism political parties will no longer be necessary or useful. Also, in a society where each individual has equal decision making power, how would a minority have any special power other than perhaps that given to it, by the majority, on a temporary basis?
FT also suggests that today (or somehow under capitalism) society belongs to us—the working class—when he says "our society". Society has, as long as it has been class divided, been the society of the class(es) at the top, the other class(es) had no real ownership or control of society, no matter what the prevailing myths claimed. Society today belongs to the capitalist class.
In Liberty men act freely and benefit personally from the proceeds of their effort, their skill, their knowledge, their time; in short, their lives.
Sounds like socialism to us. We are aware of no place on the planet today where working people can find that "the proceeds of their effort, their skill, their knowledge, their time" are rewarded anywhere close to proportionally to the benefits received by the capitalist class.
For example, is FT claiming that the capitalist who has wealth of $10 billion dollars, has worked 50,000 times harder than the person who has worked all their life to (maybe) own a home and little else? Is FT claiming that the wealthy person's effort, skill, knowledge and time, all combined are worth 50,000 times more than most other people's?
Socialists suggest that there is something considerably more significant than effort, skill, knowledge and time, involved in accumulating wealth. That something is exploitation—the employment relation itself.
The wolf, in killing and eating the doe-eyed Bambi deer, is being absolutely moral…
Finally something the WSM can agree with.
The morality of a society is what that society—in reality—allows and promotes. It is not some eternal "right" or "wrong". In society today the capitalist mode of production, including employment and poverty amidst vast wealth, is moral. War is moral. Environmental destruction is moral.
As different groups gain sway in society, morality changes (at least the perception thereof). Remember that the perception can change, and that what is implemented as a moral imperative today, can be extinguished as immoral (unnecessary) tomorrow. That is why so called social security programs (the welfare state) come and go.
At no time in the existence of capitalism, has morality opposed capitalism. In fact, until the working class puts aside the myths of current society, including its morality, capitalism will not be in any danger, and socialism cannot come into existence.
Socialism has robbed every single individual Canadian…
Socialism has not been established, it is capitalism which has robbed people, by the very nature of the employment relation. Employment only works when a worker is producing more value than the worker is paid.
…that is all we are, individuals…
However, current society does not promote real individuality. It is much more profitable to convince people that the beer they drink or the car they drive (exactly the same as tens of thousands of others) is a person's mark of individuality. It isn't in current society's interest to have individual workers who openly disagree with what the boss wants. In socialism there won't be any bosses.
They have worked, which is their nature…
Another point of agreement. People work because it is natural for them to do so. It is the nature of work under capitalism that many dislike.
Your solution is to give us more of the same, but under YOUR direction.
Socialism will be a very different society than capitalism.
The people in the current WSM expect to have one vote in socialist society. Considering that if socialism is established tomorrow there would be about five and a half billion voters, that does not bode well for our non-existent desire for control.
The WSM has no leaders today, or ever in its 90+ years, because socialists oppose leadership.
Take a good look in the mirror Mister, and tell me you like what you see…
The socialist looks in the mirror and sees a person who is working to create a society in which they will be an individual, similar to several billion other individuals, with the same social privileges and social responsibilities. The socialist sees a person with individual abilities to volunteer to society and individual needs to be satisfied by society. The socialist sees a person who prizes their own individuality, and understands that they can best exploit it in a society which revels in real individuality and responsibility.
The socialist likes that.
The socialist also sees a reasonable individual who is disturbed that some people prefer to assume they know what the socialist is thinking,—based upon what non-socialists claim is socialism—rather than to actually find out what the socialist is talking about.
The socialist hopes that reason will prevail, because there is so much to gain, individually and collectively.