MIA : Early American Marxism : Socialist Labor Party of America 2001 National Plafform
The Socialist Labor Party of America
The 45th National Convention of the Socialist Labor Party of the United States, assembled in Santa Clara, Calif., on the 4th day of June 2001, reaffirms its previous national platforms and further declares:
Few can deny that the world today is in a constant state of upheaval. That is reflected in the widespread anarchy, turmoil and conflict, not only in the developed industrial nations but also in developing nations throughout the world.
The fact that such conditions prevail generally throughout the world, and have prevailed for a long time, logically suggests the presence of a dominant common social factor. That common social factor, the Socialist Labor Party has repeatedly demonstrated, is the capitalist system that does not and cannot work in the interests of the majority. It is a social system in which society is divided into two classes—a capitalist class and a working class. The capitalist class consists of a tiny minority—the wealthy few who own and control the instruments of production and distribution. The working class consists of the vast majority who own no productive property and must, therefore, seek to work for the class that owns and controls the means of life in order to survive.
The relationship between the two classes forms the basis for an economic tyranny under which the workers as a class are exploited of the major portion of the social wealth that they produce.
The beneficiaries and defenders of this economic dictatorship never tire of declaring it the "best of all possible systems." Yet, today, after decades of new deals, fair deals, wars on poverty, civil rights legislation, government regulations, deregulations and a host of other reform efforts, capitalist America presents an obscene social picture. Millions who need and want jobs are still unemployed despite the official claims that unemployment is at historically "low" rates. Millions more are underemployed, working only part-time or temporary jobs though they need and want full-time work. Millions aren't earning enough to maintain a decent standard of living for themselves and their families despite the fact that they are working.
The malignant evil of racism is on the upsurge; so, too, is contemptible discrimination against minorities generally. The nation's educational system is a mess and getting worse. The health care system, despite heated debate for years, still fails to meet the needs of tens of millions. The country's infrastructure continues to crumble. Widespread pollution of our environment continues. Crime and corruption are pervasive at every level of capitalist society. Slums abound and millions of homeless men, women and even children roam our streets. Thanks to rising mass unemployment and falling real wages, poverty continues to grow. The number of people living below the official poverty line has risen from 24.1 million in 1969—years after the Johnson administration's so-called "War on Poverty" to a 1999 level of 32.3 million.
Even the foregoing fails to give a full picture of the wide-ranging plague of social and economic problems modern-day capitalism is imposing on society.
Over 110 years ago, when the Socialist Labor Party was organized, there were no jet planes, no computers, no nuclear power plants, no satellites and space stations, and no nuclear weapons. Nor was there great concern regarding pollution of the land, air and water on which all species—humanity included—depend on for life. But there was widespread poverty, racial prejudice and discrimination, spreading urban chaos, brazen violations of democratic rights, the material and economic conflicts that contain the seeds of war, and a host of other economic and social problems.
All of those problems still plague the American working class—but have grown to even more monumental proportions. These long-standing problems and the failure of seemingly unending reform efforts to solve or even alleviate them to any meaningful degree have imposed decades of misery and suffering on millions of workers and their families. Those deplorable conditions continue today after what capitalism's apologists and soothsayers refer to as the "longest economic boom" in the system's history—a boom they claimed brought prosperity and a sense of security to all levels of U.S. society. That capitalist propaganda not only says much about capitalist integrity and honesty, it also reflects a considerable degree of callous indifference for the working-class victims of this ruthless "expansion."
Moreover, today, as the "dot-com boom" takes a dive and capitalism enters yet another of its recurring economic busts, the U.S. working class stands perilously poised on the brink of yet another nightmare of INCREASED joblessness and poverty.
Against this insane capitalist system, the Socialist Labor Party raises its voice in emphatic protest and unqualified condemnation. It declares that if our society is to be rid of the host of economic, political and social ills that for so long have plagued it, the outmoded capitalist system of private ownership of the socially operated means of life and production for the profit of a few must be replaced by a new social order. That new social order must be organized on the sane basis of social ownership and democratic management of all the instruments of social production, all means of distribution and all of the social services. It must be one in which production is carried on to satisfy human needs and wants. In short, it must be genuine socialism.
That is precisely the mission embodied in the Socialist Labor Party's Socialist Industrial Union program—a program calling for both political and economic organization and action. That program also is based upon the SLP's recognition and unqualified acceptance of the fact that the revolutionary change to socialism must be the classconscious act of the workers themselves!
Accordingly, the SLP calls upon the workers to rally under its banner for the purpose of advocating this revolutionary change, building classconsciousness among workers and projecting a program of organization that the workers could implement toward this end. That program also calls for the organization of revolutionary socialist unions. These are essential to mobilize the economic power of the workers not only to resist the ever-increasing encroachments of the capitalists more effectively, but ultimately to provide the essential power to enforce the revolutionary demand.
Capable of assuming control and continuing to administer and operate the essential industries and social services, Socialist Industrial Unions can exercise the power and provide the decisive leverage to "swing" the revolution. Moreover, they have the structure that provides the necessary foundation and structural framework for socialist society. It is the workers who will fill out the new social framework and make the people's ownership, control and administration of the new social structure a reality.
Despite the many threats to workers' lives, liberty and happiness today, despite the growing poverty and misery that workers are subjected to, a world of peace, liberty, security, health and abundance for all stands within our grasp. The potential to create such a society exists, but that potential can be realized only if workers act to gain control of their own lives by organizing, politically and industrially, for socialism.
The Socialist Labor Party calls upon all who realize the critical nature of our times, and who may be increasingly aware that a basic change in our society is needed, to place themselves squarely on working-class principles. Join us in this effort to put an end to the existing class conflict and all its malevolent results by placing the land and the instruments of social production in the hands of the people as a collective body in a cooperative socialist society. Help us build a world in which everyone will enjoy the free exercise and full benefit of their individual faculties, multiplied by all the technological and other factors of modern civilization.
Socialist Labor Party of America, P.O. Box 218, Mountain View, CA 94042-0218 • www.slp.org • firstname.lastname@example.org