. Politics of Socialism | London Progressive Journal
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Politics of Socialism

Thu 26th Dec 2019

I. Ideas
This essay is a study of the politics of Socialism. Socialism is the struggle of the working class to achieve a workers’ society and a workers’ politics. This struggle, necessarily, requires Socialist politics. Socialism has had a vision of its politics and its political theory for over two centuries – since the beginning of the working class and the beginning of modern society. Socialism and Socialist politics are working-class politics and Left politics. This essay is a theoretical outline of Socialism and Socialist politics.
Socialism is revolutionary. Socialism is the struggle to achieve a society where the means of production, distribution, and exchange are controlled by society and by the working class. This is the economic, political, and social definition of Socialism – to achieve a society in which production is for need, rather than profit, and a society in which production is controlled by the working class, for the working class, by society, for society. Achieving this, by revolution or by struggle, requires politics, and necessarily Socialist politics. [1]

Socialism is political. Socialist politics, since the 19th century and since the 20th century, have been formed around working-class politics. The workers and the working class form the basis of Socialism and of Socialist politics. Most Socialists believe that Socialism can only be achieved by the working class. Indeed it is the working class which is the class which is capable of achieving Socialism. This political aspect of Socialism has come down to a very simple vision of Socialist politics and of Socialism – that the working class must be politically organised to achieve Socialism. All of the intellectual, social, historical, economic, theoretical, and political, aspects of Socialism come down to finding a way to organise the working class to achieve Socialism. The politics of Socialism begin with the working class. The politics of Socialism end with the working class.

This essay is an attempt to outline the politics of Socialism for the purpose of developing Socialist politics. For the Left today it is vital to develop both Socialist theory and Socialist ideas, but it is also vital to develop Socialist politics. While the Left might struggle today to achieve Socialism, and a Socialist society, the basic political aspects of the struggle for Socialism are still vital. This has been clear since the emergence of modern ideas about Socialism and since the emergence of working-class ideas about Socialism. We can all remember that the best thinkers for Socialism, specifically Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg, and Gramsci, were all political thinkers for Socialism. The political aspect of Socialism is crucial to the achievement of Socialism – simply because it is the basis from which the theory of Socialism is transformed into the reality of Socialism. Any analysis of Socialism today will also confirm the need to develop Socialist politics – as the Left is forced to confront both the theory and the reality of the Capitalist Crisis of today. Socialism, both as theory and as practice, emerged out of the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution, the working class, the politics of the Left, and the ideas of the Left.

Socialist politics is working-class politics - ‘the emancipation of the working class is the act of the working class’ as suggested by Marx and Engels. Socialist politics is politics of the working class, by the working class, for the working class.

Socialist politics are made up of many parts and many components. The whole structure of this essay is to outline the basic parts and basic components of Socialism and of Socialist politics as they have emerged since the Industrial Revolution, since the French Revolution, since the creation of the working class, and since the creation of the Left. For the Left it is always necessary to understand the basic outlines of Socialism and of Socialist politics. This is because Socialism cannot be achieved simply as a theoretical position – rather it must be achieved by the working class, by working-class politics. This process ensures that Socialism, unlike other political theories and political philosophies, is ultimately a politics which is expressed in the form of political action – by reform or by revolution. This essay is about Socialist politics.

Socialism and Socialist politics emerge out of Capitalism. Socialism is a historical development and a economic development. The theory of Historical Materialism - the theory that history is based on material conditions, productive forces, social relations, social struggle, class struggle, and social revolution - shows that Socialism is a historical development. Historical Materialism shows that Socialism develops out of Capitalism.

The theory of Historical Materialism shows the historical basis for Socialism. Marx’s theory of history suggests that human society progresses through the development of the mode of production, through the development of the forces of production and through the development of the relations of production, resulting in class struggle, resulting in social revolution. The theory of Historical Materialism also suggests that human societies progress through the development of certain types of class societies and economic societies, specifically Ancient society, Feudal society, and Capitalist society. The progress of humanity through Capitalist society, by producing the economic and social basis of modern society, creates the social base necessary for Socialism. Socialism will emerge, in historical terms, because the development of Capitalism, by creating certain forces of production and relations of production, will create the social revolution necessary for Socialism. Socialism is not a pre-destined result of human development but it is a natural result, a historical result, and a possible result, of the historical development of human society. Capitalism will be replaced by Socialism because human society must achieve its own historical liberation – by overcoming class and class society.

The struggle for Socialism requires Socialist politics and a politics of Socialism. In the end this essay is about outlining the politics of Socialism in order to develop a better Socialist politics. This essay is a Left essay on Socialism and Socialist politics. In today’s politics, with their crises and their difficulties, it is important to keep the politics of Socialism at the front of Socialist ideas and Socialist thinking. Without Socialist politics there cannot be Socialism. Socialism, in the end, will emerge out of Socialist politics.
There are numerous ways to approach Socialism and the politics of Socialism. What the end result has to be, however, is the struggle of the working class and the struggle for working-class emancipation. Socialism and Socialist politics, in the end, comes down to those two political goals and political struggles. This makes Socialism possible. This makes Socialism political.

II. Definitions
Socialism is a varied political term. We can begin by defining Socialism. Socialism is the social control and social ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange. Socialism is workers’ control of society and workers’ power. Socialism is the emancipation of the working class by the self-emancipation of the working class. Socialism is an association of free and equal producers. Socialism is based on the principle of ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their contribution’. Socialism is based on the principle of ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their need’. Socialism is based on the principle that ’the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all’. Socialism is a product of the ideas which emerged from the Enlightenment, from the Industrial Revolution, and from the French Revolution. Socialism is an ideology for equality over hierarchy. Socialism is an ideology based on achieving equality through the abolition of classes. Socialism is the struggle to achieve the abolition of classes. Socialism is based on the ideas of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Socialism is based on achieving such ideals through social control of production and through the abolition of classes. Socialism is the transition from Capitalism to Communism – from a class society to a classless society. Socialism is a stage of human development and human freedom which emerges from historical developments and from political developments – specifically from the working class to achieve a better society.

The definition of Socialism cannot be divorced from the politics of Socialism. Socialism is a Left ideology and a left-wing ideology. Socialism is a Left movement and a left-wing movement. Socialism is a working-class ideology and a workers’ ideology. Socialism, politically and economically, is the struggle to achieve a stateless, classless, humane, society.

The definition of Socialism given by Marx and Engels is probably the best definition of Socialism in terms of Socialist politics and Socialist ideas. Socialism is the revolutionary struggle of the working class. Socialism is a society which serves the needs of Humanity. Socialism is, ultimately, working-class power to overcome Capitalism and to replace it with a society based on the social emancipation of the working class – to replace Capitalism with Socialism. [2]

Marx’s vision of Socialism still remains the most important vision of Socialism. This is because Marx saw Socialism in political terms, in economic terms, and in historical terms. This is also because Marx believed it was the working class which would achieve Socialism. For the Left today the politics of Marx remain vital. For Socialism today the politics of Marxism remain vital. In effective terms Marxism remains the most effective form of the politics of Socialism. [3]

Lenin’s vision of Socialism also remains important to the vision of Socialism. More specifically Lenin’s definition of Socialism – as ‘the transition from Capitalism to Communism’ – remains with us whenever we think about both Socialism and the politics of Socialism. Socialism, as the lower phase of Communism, means that Socialism is always a workers’ ideology – one devoted to the achievement of a equal, democratic, and just society, based on the abolition of class and class society. [4]

Socialism is about workers’ power. Socialism is about the working class. Definitions of Socialism might differ but it is vital to remember that Socialism is about workers’ power, workers’ democracy, workers’ politics, and building a workers’ society. Socialism is about workers’ power in order to achieve a workers’ society. The social ownership of the means of production is impossible without workers’ power and workers’ politics. What unites Socialism, as a movement and as an ideology, is the vision of a democratic, equal, and just society, based on human emancipation, through the emancipation of the working class. Socialism is the means by which humanity might achieve a stateless, classless, equal, and democratic society – a Communist society. Socialism, essentially, is the revolutionary movement for the liberation of the working class. [5]

III. Ideology
The politics of Socialism cannot be disconnected from the ideology of Socialism. Socialism, essentially, is both about the theory of Socialism and the practice of Socialism. It is impossible to think about the politics of Socialism without outlining the ideas of Socialism. The ideology of Socialism asserts the superiority of social ownership of production.
The ideology of Socialism is based around the overcoming of Capitalism and its replacement with Socialism. We can briefly outline the basic ideology of Socialism:

i. Socialism is a social, democratic, and egalitarian Ideology.
ii. Socialism is a radical, revolutionary, and humanist ideology
iii. Socialism is a working-class, political, economic, intellectual, and left-wing ideology.
iv. Socialism is committed to the abolition of classes and the self-emancipation of the working class.
v. Socialism is an ideology of the Enlightenment.

Socialist ideology is made-up of two parts: a critique of Capitalism and a alternative to Capitalism. The critique of Capitalism is made-up of a critique of private property, markets, and profit. The alternative to Capitalism is Socialism – a society base on social property, democracy, planning, and production based on need. Socialism, ultimately, is a Humanist ideology – based on human liberation and human development. The ideology of Socialism is central to the politics of Socialism.

Socialism as an ideology and as a movement is committed to overcoming the reality of Capitalism and the ideology of Capitalism. As all ideologies emerge from material reality, material production, the forces of production, the relations of production, the base of society, the superstructure of society, and the class struggle, Socialism is an ideology based in the real world and in real life.
Socialism is a ideology which is opposed to Capitalism and to Capitalist ideology. In our current society, due to the development of Capitalism and the reality of Capitalism, the dominant ideology is based on Capitalism. Socialism struggles in order to overcome Capitalism and to become the dominant mode of society and the dominant ideology of society. Socialism will only become the dominant ideology of society once Socialism itself has been established – and in the process changes both the mode of production and the relations of production. Indeed a key goal of Socialism is to overcome ideology itself – to establish a truly liberated society, a society freed from the limits of ideology.

IV. Forms of Socialism
There are many different types of Socialism. The two main types are reformist Socialism and revolutionary Socialism. Specifically the main forms of Socialism are: Social-Democracy, Reformist Socialism, Revolutionary Socialism, Communism, Trotskyism, Democratic Socialism, and Anarchism. [6] These forms of Socialism make up the bulk of Socialist ideas and Socialist politics in the world today – since the 19th century.

Most forms of Socialism, today, are divided between Reformist Socialism and Revolutionary Socialism. In political terms this divide has divided the movement for Socialism since the 19th century, especially since the First World War and since the October Revolution. What unites most Socialists, however, is the commitment to some form of major social change with Socialism. Socialism, the ideal of social control of production, is usually what unites most forces on the Left and most Socialists. The different types of Socialism, between Marxists and Anarchists, are usually united by the ideal of overcoming Capitalism and replacing it with Socialism. Socialism might be divided today, as it has been since the 19th century, but Socialism is also united by its principles and by some of its politics.

The different forms of Socialism are united by the struggle for Socialism. The political struggle for Socialism is usually what has united Socialists, across the spectrum of Socialism. The greatest strength for Socialists and for Socialism has come when Socialists are united – even when politically divided.

V. Workers
The political base of Socialism is the working class. The working class, because of its base as the productive class of society, is the Class which is capable of achieving Socialism. In many ways the working class is the revolutionary class because it is the class capable of building Socialism. All Socialist politics and all Socialist ideas emerge from this political fact. Indeed it can be said that Socialism is, quite simply, the struggle of the working class to achieve a better society - a equal society, a democratic society, a just society, and a free society. Socialism is the struggle by the working class to liberate society.

If we are to engage with the politics of Socialism we must engage with the working class. The transition to Socialism, the revolutionary transition to Socialism, is the political act of the working class. This is because it is the working class which can use the means of production and the forces of production to change society itself. This is why Marx said that the emancipation of the working class must be the act of the self-emancipation of the working class. All of the various ideas and theories of Socialism come down to this basic aspect – that Socialism is the Struggle of the working class.

The working class is the agent for Socialism because it is a class which is capable of making and changing society. Socialist politics support the working class, not for any particular ethical reason or moral reason, but because of the material reality that the working class is capable of achieving social revolution and social change. The working class is capable of great ethical ideas and often great heroism, but it is because of its ability to struggle that the working class has become the basis of both Socialism and Socialist politics. Marx’s old observation about the working class and Socialism remains correct: ‘the working class alone is a really revolutionary class’. The working class, today, is the only class capable of social revolution – of achieving Socialism.

Ever since the emergence of Socialism and of the Left the working class has been the basis of both the Socialist movement and the Left. If we look at all the great movements for Socialism in the past and all the great movements for Socialism today their basis has always been with the working class. The working class has always made up the bulk of Socialist parties and Socialist movements. Indeed the defining force of Socialist movements has been the working class - in the form of working-class struggles, working-class strikes and working-class revolutions. It is impossible to think about the politics of the Left or the politics of Socialism without the working class. A Socialist movement without a working-class is not a Socialist movement. The working class is the alpha and omega of Socialism.

VI. Politics
Politics lie at the base of Socialism. Politics are a key part of Socialism. The politics of Socialism are a crucial part of the theory and practice of Socialism. It is difficult to think of Socialism without its politics, its theory or its practice. Ever since the 19th century, and the emergence of modern Socialism, the politics of Socialism have been crucial in terms of the way in which Socialism is thought about and the terms of the way in which Socialism is fought for. Every major school of Socialist thought, since the 19th century, has always seen Socialism in political terms and in terms of political struggle. Socialism, both reformist Socialism and revolutionary Socialism, is a political struggle and a political concept. Every Socialist, today, believes that Socialism, if it is to be achieved, must be achieved by the political struggle for Socialism. This means that there is a politics of Socialism. Socialism is the social ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange. More specifically Socialism is workers’ power and workers’ control. More specifically Socialism is the political struggle and economic struggle for a society run by the workers and by the working class. The objective of Socialism is a society run by the working class – a society in which the principle of ‘from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs’ is the basic political principle and social principle of society. Socialism, specifically, is the struggle to end Capitalism, exploitation, and oppression. This is the politics of Socialism.

The politics of Socialism are vital to any struggle for Socialism. Politics is what gives Socialism its political ability to both interpret the world, and its ability to change the world. The dynamic of politics is what gives Socialism its arguments, its strategy, its tactics, and its organisation. The politics of Socialism emerge when Socialist ideas and Socialist theory is combined with Socialist action and Socialist strategy. The politics of Socialism also emerge when these are all combined with a working-class movement and a working-class politics. In political terms the struggle for Socialism is the combination of Socialism with the working class. This has been the basis of Socialist politics since the 19th century – since the emergence of both Socialism and Socialist politics. For Left parties and Socialist parties the politics of Socialism are vital – because Socialist politics gives those parties the political ability to both think and act. Socialist politics is the power of the Socialist movement and the Left movement. Socialism is a possible political force and a possible social force. Socialism is not theoretical. Socialism is practical. A Socialist politics can only emerge from a Socialist Movement. A Socialist politics can only emerge from an authentic Socialist Movement. Since the end of the Cold War it is perhaps possible for Socialist politics to emerge and for a new Socialist politics to emerge. The barriers of the Cold War have fallen away. It is time to return to Socialism and the politics of Socialism.

In political terms the politics of Socialism are important to understand. They are important for the struggle for Socialism. They are important both to understanding the history of Socialism and the present struggle for Socialism. They are also important both to thinking about Socialism and achieving Socialism. This dynamic runs through any attempt to understanding Socialism as both a theory and a practice. This means that the politics of Socialism, both in theory and in practice, must be understood – both by the Left and by the working class movement. With Socialist ideas, Socialist theory, Socialist practice, and Socialist politics, the struggle for Socialism becomes possible – as does the struggle of the working class for its own social power and political power. The goal of this essay is to present the politics of Socialism – so that a better politics for Socialism might emerge in the struggle for Socialism.

Socialism is the result of the working class struggle to achieve Socialism out of Capitalism. This means that the working class must struggle in order to achieve Socialism and a Socialist society. This also means that the working class has to be politically organised in order to achieve Socialism. There will always be a struggle for Socialism – until Socialism is achieved. This struggle is an international struggle – it extends across the world, in Europe, in the Americas, in Africa, in Asia, and in Oceania. This point is vital to remember. This international struggle, led by the working class, means there will be many roads to Socialism and many roads to achieve Socialism. The most important point about the struggle for Socialism is to maintain both the politics of Socialism and the international solidarity of the struggle for Socialism. Internationalism is the basis for all Socialist politics – wherever the struggle for Socialism is being fought.

There are two types of Socialism – Socialism from Above and Socialism from Below. Socialism from Above is the attempt to impose Socialism via the methods of Social-Democracy, Reform, or Stalinism. Socialism from Below is the attempt to achieve Socialism via the methods of working-class struggle and working-class revolution. In the 20th century all of the great attempts to achieve Socialism came from attempts at Socialism from Below – via working-class struggle and working-class revolution. The October Revolution of 1917 is the greatest example, so-far, of such Socialist politics in action – via the politics of Socialist Revolution. In terms of achieving Socialism today the key aspect of Socialist politics remains the political struggle for Socialist Revolution.
There are two roads to Socialism - Socialism via Reform and Socialism via Revolution. Socialism via Reform was the road to Socialism which dominated most of the Social-Democratic Parties of the 20th century, with mixed results. While Socialism via Reform managed to achieve social progress in several countries it did not manage to achieve Socialism. In the 20th century the closest attempts at Socialism came from Socialism via Revolution. The Russian Revolution of 1917, the Spanish Revolution of 1936, the Yugoslav Revolution of 1945, the Chinese Revolution of 1949, the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the Vietnamese Revolution, and some other Socialist Revolutions of the 20th century, attempted to achieve Socialism - but fell to either Stalinism or Counter-Revolution. In today’s world the struggle for Socialism continues - and it continues via the two roads to Socialism - Socialism via Reform and Socialism via Revolution. Different societies, with different politics, will have different roads to Socialism, yet the political result will be the same - the establishment of Socialism by the working class.

Socialism is a mass ideology. Socialism is a mass movement. Socialism can only be achieved by a mass movement. As Socialism seeks to be a working-class movement in the interests of the working class, Socialism is essentially a mass movement of the majority in the interest of the majority. This has been the reality of Socialism, as a idea and as a politics, since the 19th century, with the emergence of Socialist organisations and Socialist parties. The political structures and economic structures that Socialism seeks to establish, social control over the means of production, means that the politics of Socialism have to be based around the democratic structures and democratic power of the working class. The working class, in fighting for Socialism, in struggling for Socialism, in establishing Socialism, needs to struggle for its own democratic power and its own democratic institutions. The social control of production, established by Socialism, places production in the democratic hands of the working class and wider society. This means that Socialism is essentially a struggle for Democracy – both in production and in society. As Marx pointed out the struggle for Socialism is the struggle to win the ‘Battle of Democracy’. Democracy, in the end, is vital to the struggle for Socialism. The political struggle for Socialism, in the politics of Socialism, is the struggle to create Democracy.

VII. History

The history of Socialism informs the politics of Socialism. Indeed Socialism emerged as a ideology and as a movement because of history. Socialism exists because of the history of human society – specifically because of the social history of the development of economic society and the development of the means of production, the forces of production, and the social relations of production. Since the development of Class and Class society Socialism has been the historical struggle to overcome Class and Class society. Socialism is also the specific historical development of specific historical advances – specifically Capitalist society, Industrial society, the Industrial Revolution, and the French Revolution. Socialism is a product of both the Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution. Socialism is a product of both working-class politics and working-class struggle. The economic basis of Socialism exists because of the historical development of Capitalism and Industrial society – which came out of the Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution. The ideological basis of Socialism exists because of the historical development of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. The political basis of Socialism exists because of the emergence of the working class and the working class movement. All of these historical developments, in the 19th century and in the 20th century, came together to form Socialism. Socialism is both a political movement and a historical movement. Socialism exists, today, both as possibility and as movement, because of the historical circumstances of the last two centuries – specifically the economic, political, social, intellectual, and historical, development which occurred in those two centuries. Socialism cannot be separated from history. Socialism emerges because of history.

Socialism is also a historical ideology and a historical movement. Socialism has a history – both in terms of the struggle for Socialism and the political history of Socialism. This history is the history of the working class struggle for Socialism, both in reformist terms and in revolutionary terms. Ever since the 19th century the history of Socialism has been the history of the working class trying to achieve Socialism – via reform and via revolution. All the great movements of the working class in the last two centuries have been a product of this history. All the great social victories and political victories achieved by the working class in the struggle for liberty, equality, fraternity, democracy, solidarity, and Socialism, has been the historical struggle of the working class.
The history of Socialism began with the emergence of Socialism as a ideology and as a movement - in the 19th century and in the 20th century. Socialism is a historical ideology but it remains a contemporary ideology. Indeed despite the collapse of the Soviet Union and despite the collapse of Stalinism, Socialism remains one of the key ideologies and politics of our times. Socialism remains as they key form of Left politics and Left ideas in our times. Socialism might be an ideology with a history but it is a ideology which remains part of our present and our future. The history of Socialism informs the present of Socialism and the future of Socialism but the history of Socialism does not mean that Socialism is impossible. In the political struggle of today Socialism is perhaps more relevant and more necessary than ever before. In today’s Capitalist society the possibility of Socialism is greater today than it was during the Cold War. The Crisis of Capitalism, today, means there is a historical chance and a historical possibility for Socialism. Indeed since the collapse of Stalinism the possibility for a new Socialism has begun to emerge – out of the victories and defeats of the past. The history of Socialism is full of victories and defeats, successes and failures, but it remains the key basis for both Left thought and Left action. Socialism remains the basis by which a better society might be made. Socialist politics today, based on the Socialist history, is possible – based on both the politics of Socialism and the history of Socialism.

There have been many thinkers for Socialism – since the 19th century and since the 20th century. Socialism, after all, is both an intellectual movement and a political movement. The most important thinkers for Socialism have been Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg, and Gramsci - at least in terms of the formation of revolutionary Socialism. The essential contribution of these thinkers was to both the theory of Socialism and the politics of Socialism. Their greatest contribution, however, was the commitment to the idea that Socialism is the act of the working class. Whenever we look at effective Socialist politics, both then and today, we can see that they are effective politics when they are based around the working class and the struggle of the working class. All of the great Socialist Revolutions, since the Paris Commune of 1871, are based on the basic principle that Socialism is about the political act of the working class – the self-emancipation of the working class. This historical development and historical constant in the history of Socialism, from the 19th century to today, has always been based on the idea that Socialism is the act of the liberation of the working class. Socialism begins with the working class. Socialism ends with the working class.

There are many movements and parties for Socialism – since the 19th century. After the 1800s the working class, across the world, has formed a number of political parties and political organisations capable of fighting for Socialism and struggling for Socialism. This political development shows the political potential and the political organisation of Socialism – as well as the political organisation of the working class. These parties and these organisations have been vital to the struggle for Socialism – but they have also been vital for every attempt at social progress in the world since 1800. When we look back at politics and society since 1800, at the social progress made by humanity, especially in the realm of social progress, economic progress, political progress, gender progress, sexual progress, racial progress, and democratic progress, the power of Socialism and Socialist politics has often been central. Every struggle for human liberty and human equality in the last two centuries has either been led by Socialism or led by Socialists. This political power and political role is universal. Every country and every society on earth has benefitted from the struggle for Socialism – either directly or indirectly. While Socialism has yet to triumph, completely, over Capitalism it still has resulted in the bulk of the social progress that the human species has made and has enjoyed. The social progress of humanity, in many ways, relies on the victory and the triumph of Socialism. This is a point that is demonstrated by both the history of Socialism and the politics of Socialism.

The greatest attempt at Socialism was the October Revolution of 1917. This Revolution was the greatest revolution of the 20th century. This Revolution, led by Lenin and the Bolsheviks, has established the bulk of Socialist politics for the revolutionary struggle for Socialism. This Revolution also resulted in the first attempt at a Socialist State – the Soviet Union. It created the first workers’ state in history. While the Russian Revolution degenerated into Stalinism its example did show that Socialism is possible and that a Socialist society is possible. The example of the October Revolution shows what is possible through Socialism - thanks to the political power and social power of Socialist politics. The October Revolution shows, both in history and in politics, that the working class can seize political power, establish its own state, and establish its own society. The degeneration of the Soviet Union, and the other workers’ states of the 20th century, into Stalinism, and into a degenerated workers’ state, prior to its collapse in 1991, does not invalidate Socialism. The precedent of the October Revolution, despite the fall into Stalinism and the Counter Revolution of Stalinism, against the Soviet Union, shows that working-class power is powerful. The October Revolution also shows a further fact of Socialist politics – that the working class has the political power and the social power to make society and to remake society. The Soviet Union, despite its flaws, despite its Stalinism, was a radical attempt to remake a society for the better. In many ways the Soviet Union succeeded in this task of creating a better society – as well as in the task of defeating Fascism in the Second World War. The October Revolution was a leap forward for humanity – and a leap forward for Socialism. Indeed the October Revolution of 1917, and the Paris Commune of 1871, probably remain the closest that humanity has yet come to Socialism. In many ways those two great revolutions show the power of Socialist politics – in the direct overthrow of Capitalism and Capitalist society. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 does not invalidate Socialism or Socialist politics – rather it shows that the struggle for Socialism needs to continue, both in the present and in the future. The October Revolution shows that Socialism is possible. The history of Socialism shows that Socialism is possible. [7]

The history of Socialism is also the history of working-class agency. The history of Socialism is also the history of working-class liberation. In terms of actual politics it is Socialist politics and Left politics which have led to the most agency and most freedom for the working class. This is demonstrated simply by the reality of political developments, in most countries, over the last two centuries. The most social progress and social development, alongside agency, for the working class, has come out of Socialist politics and out of Socialism. It is when the working class is organised, in labour movements and in Socialist movements, that it has achieved the most for itself. No other form of politics, across the spectrum, has achieved so much for the working class as Socialism and Socialist politics. The working class has achieved the bulk of its social advances when it has been Socialist. Class Consciousness has been vital to the social progress and freedom of the working class. The working class, in political terms, gains more when it is a Socialist working-class.

The history of Socialism shows us that there is a need for Socialist politics. Specifically the history of Socialism outlines both effective politics for Socialism and ineffective politics for Socialism. Essentially the history of Socialism shows us what Socialists should do and should not do in the struggle for Socialism. History should be a guide for the politics of Socialism. The effective politics for Socialism are those politics which organise the working class and which organise the working class for Socialism itself. The ineffective politics for Socialism are those politics which limit the working class to merely Social-Democratic reform – or those politics which lead the working class towards either Capitalism or Stalinism. This binary choice between effective politics and ineffective politics is not always clear – as is shown by the history of Socialism – but this binary does show that Socialism needs to learn from its past and its history in order to develop its politics for the current century. Socialism must learn from its past, both its victories and its defeats, if it is to achieve victory today. Socialism must learn from its history in order to develop an effective politics for Socialism.

VIII. Development
We can briefly outline the base and basis of Socialist politics. Essentially Socialist politics have emerged from four basic elements of intellectual development and political development: from Industrial society, from the Enlightenment, from the working class, and from the Left. There are many types of Socialist ideas but the basic Socialist tradition, since the 19th century, has been to place the politics and ideas of Socialism within these four basic elements of Socialist ideas. If we are to understand the politics of Socialism we must understand the basis of Socialism in these four basic parts of Socialism.

i. Socialism emerges from Industrial society – from Capitalist society and Capitalist production, from Industrial society and Industrial production.
ii. Socialism emerges from the Enlightenment – from Enlightenment philosophy and Enlightenment ideas – which become Socialist philosophy and Socialist ideas.
iii. Socialism emerges from the working class – from the working class itself and from the organisation of the working class.
iv. Socialism emerges from the Left – from the ideas of the Left and the politics of the Left, which emerged after the French

Revolution and from the Industrial Revolution.
The unity of Socialism and of Socialist politics is that Socialism emerged alongside modern politics and modern society. Essentially Socialism is the political result of modern politics and modern society – since the Industrial Revolution, since the French Revolution, since the creation of the Left, and since the creation of the working class. Socialism, in the end, both as philosophy and as politics is the combination of the Enlightenment, the working class, Socialist ideas, and Socialist politics. The unity of Socialist ideas and of Socialist politics is that they can be seen as the rational outcome of the Enlightenment – specifically the Enlightenment ideals of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. [8]

IX. Socialism Today
Socialism, today, has begun to re-emerge as a political movement and as a political struggle. This is because of the Crisis of Capitalism today. The current problems of Capitalism ensure that some form of political opposition and some form of political movement must begin to emerge, in the current-century, for Socialism. Socialism emerges best when it has both a movement and an opportunity to challenge Capitalism. Since the beginning of the current Crisis of Capitalism both that movement and that opportunity have begun to emerge again – in several places and several countries across the globe. The current reality of the Crisis has tended to favour the Right yet the Left is beginning to re-emerge from the dark days which often limited the Left in the 1990s and in the 2000s. In this situation the political movement for Socialism can make advances. In this situation the political struggle for Socialism can make advances.

Socialism has suffered a series of defeats and difficulties across the last few decades. The end of the Cold War has led to a terrible period of reaction and imperialism. Today’s Socialist politics needs to re-emerge from the difficulties and defeats suffered by Socialism and Socialist politics in the last half of the 20th century. Indeed today’s Socialism needs to recover both its political power and its social power - to make the Revolution. This is the reality which faces both Socialism and the Socialist movement today. This reality is not unusual. For most of the history of Socialism the struggle for Socialism has often occurred in periods of difficulty for Socialism itself. The Right, today, might be in power, on a global scale, but the possibilities for the Left, and for Socialism, are beginning to re-emerge as a strong political force. Socialism might be weak today – but its political strength is starting to return again. This is similar to other periods in the history of Socialism – such as in the 1870s or in the 1930s. Socialism might be weak today but the political wheel will eventually turn and the opportunity for Socialism will come again. In those circumstances the chance for Socialism and Socialist politics will emerge again. Socialism, today, simply needs to continue to struggle – until it can one day change society for the better. Socialism will always be possible – so long as the struggle for Socialism continues.
Socialism, today, remains a political struggle. This is because Capitalism still exists and because Socialism has yet to be achieved on a global scale. Indeed the struggle for Socialism today is simply a struggle for Socialism over Capitalism. The political struggle, today, is to struggle for Socialism – for a democratic, egalitarian, Socialism. This political struggle for Socialism can only be achieved by the working class and by Class Struggle. This means that Socialism must struggle against Capitalism. This also means that Socialism must struggle against Liberalism and Conservatism. The rule of Capitalism and the Capitalist Class must be politically confronted and politically overcome. The most important social issues today, specifically class, race, gender, nationality, the environment, and others, can only be solved by Socialism and by Socialist politics. The struggle for Socialism, today, is simply the struggle for Socialism.

There is only one effective path to Socialism – the path of Socialist Revolution. Whether Socialism is achieved by reform or by revolution it will still have to be achieved via a revolutionary struggle and a revolutionary transformation. Even the most peaceful route to Socialism, via reform, will have to include revolutionary developments, revolutionary confrontations, and revolutionary struggles. Socialism will require a Socialist Revolution to achieve Socialism. This aspect of Socialist politics has been clear for over two centuries - ever since the working class first began to confront Capitalism and to struggle for Socialism.

The struggle for Socialism today cannot be based on a faith that Socialism is inevitable. The conditions for Socialism are inevitable, due to the reality of Capitalism, but the victory of Socialism is not inevitable. Socialism needs to be fought for, here and now, if it is to be achieved. Capitalism might generate the conditions and the realities needed for Socialism but it is no means certain that Capitalism will inevitably generate Socialism. This means that there is a need for a struggle for Socialism. This means, too, that there is a need for a politics of Socialism – in the struggle for Socialism.

Socialism, today, is about the struggle to achieve Socialism and to advance Socialism. This means having ideas and having politics about Socialism. This means arguing for Socialism and fighting for Socialism. This means having a politics of Socialism – a politics which can achieve Socialism by revolutionary means. The lessons of the 19th century and the 20th century, the lessons of attempts to build Socialism, can be learned from in the struggle to achieve Socialism today. Ultimately the struggle for Socialism might be long and hard – as shown by both the victories and defeats of the past – but that struggle remains today. The struggle for Socialism, for a society of equals, remains today. Essentially the struggle must continue – until victory, until Socialism. This, ultimately, means that the politics of Socialism will always be needed. [9]

It should be clear that if the Left is to have any future then it must be as a Socialist Left. The duty of the Left is to argue, to struggle, and to think, for Socialism. This has been the duty of the Left since the emergence of the Left and since the emergence of Socialism. In today’s society, divided between Left and Right, the politics of the Left need to be placed firmly in Socialism – as the Right is placed firmly in Capitalism. If the Left is to succeed it must be as an alternative to the Right. If the Left is to be an alternative then it must be as a Socialist alternative. These points might seem obvious but since the 1980s and the 1990s, the Socialist basis of the Left has continued to retreat. Today the Left needs to struggle for Socialism – both because Socialism is the best politics and the best future but also because Socialism is the only politics and only future for the Left. [10]

X. Prospects
The world faces many problems today. Specifically the world faces social problems, economic problems, political problems, and environmental problems. All of these problems can be solved – but they cannot be solved by Capitalism. This is because Capitalism created these particular problems in the first place. This means that Capitalism must be replaced by something else – specifically by a society which places both the economy and society at the service of humanity. [11] Such a change requires Socialism and a Socialist society. Achieving Socialism means having a politics for Socialism and a Socialist politics. The experience of the last century, specifically the October Revolution and the early Soviet Union, shows that Socialism is possible – even if it is difficult to achieve Socialism. In terms of the prospects for Socialism today the prospects are very good. Capitalism, despite its triumph in the Cold War, has fallen into a new series of problems and crises. This means that Socialism remains possible. Indeed Socialism is the only way in which the problems of the world be confronted and solved. In terms of effective prospects for Socialism, today, we might see some serious advances and developments for Socialism in the coming decades and the coming centuries. So long as human society exists and so long as humanity strives for a better society the prospects for Socialism remain good. [12]

XI. Results
The politics of Socialism, ultimately, are the politics of achieving Socialism. [13] The politics of Socialism are about achieving Socialism and maintaining Socialism. Achieving Socialism and a Socialist society will be difficult - yet it remains possible and it remains a necessity. With the way that the world is developing today radical change is required and radical change is needed. Socialism is the means to achieve that radical change. Socialism is the means to achieve a better society.

The results of Socialist politics, so-far, has not yet been Socialism. Socialism still has to be achieved today – as is shown by the reality of the majority of the world being dominated by Capitalism and Capitalist politics. It is impossible to know the future completely but whatever future does emerge that future will still need both Socialist politics and Socialism. Capitalism will eventually be replaced by something else. It is the point of Socialist politics to ensure that Capitalism is replaced by Socialism.

The politics of Socialism are good politics. The politics of Socialism come out of its strength as the alternative to Capitalism and its strength as the struggle of the working class. These two elements ensure that Socialism is a practical movement and a practical struggle. Socialism, the dream of an equal, democratic, and just, society, is what maintains the politics of Socialism. In the end the politics of Socialism ultimately unite in the struggle for a better society and a better world. The politics of Socialism, in the end, are about achieving Socialism.

Notes
1. K. Marx and F. Engels, The Communist Manifesto, (1848)
2. K. Marx, Capital Vol. I, (1867)
3. K. Marx, General Rules of the International Working-Men’s Association, (1864)
4. K. Marx, General Rules of the International Working-Men’s Association, (1864)
5. K. Marx, General Rules of the International Working-Men’s Association, (1864)
6. P.M. Sweezy, Socialism, (1949)
7. W. Morris, Summary of the Principles of Socialism, (1884)
8. E.J. Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848, (1962)
9. P. Anderson, Problems of Socialist Strategy, (1965)
10. R. Williams, Towards a Socialist society, (1965)
11. K. Marx and F. Engels, The Communist Manifesto, (1848)
12. K. Marx, Capital Vol. I, (1867)
13. V.I. Lenin, What is to be Done?, (1902)
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