In the last issue of the World Socialist, we explained Clause Two of the World Socialist Movement’s Declaration of Principles, which is regarding the class struggle — the conflict between both of capitalism’s economic classes. In this issue, we’ll expound on Clause Three, which says:
This antagonism can be abolished only by the emancipation of the working class from the domination of the master class, by the conversion into the common property of society of the means of production and distribution, and their democratic control by the whole people.
Of course, the antagonism referred to is the class struggle, the working class is the proletariat, and the master class is the bourgeoisie. The working class’s only legitimate means of survival is selling their labor power to the bourgeoisie, who live off a portion of the surplus value extracted from the surplus labor of the working class. With a proletarian’s only other options being to commit crime, live off someone else’s income, or starve, they’re economically coerced into wage slavery — into being economically dominated by the bourgeoisie. As said in the previous article, lobbying also gives capitalists political domination over workers. This economic and political domination by the capitalist class — the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie — is based on their private ownership of the means of production.
This custom of individual ownership of the means of production, which effectively becomes collective ownership by a super minority of people in practice, is the root of all class-based modes of production, including capitalism. This minority ownership enables a direct and near complete autocracy over the labor process, right down to when and how long workers can use bathroom breaks. Aside from the labor process, capitalists also have an indirect autocracy over labor laws to a certain degree, again, via state lobbyists. This arrangement creates a diametrical opposition in class interests, which births class antagonism and, thus, class war. The only way to end this class war and bourgeois domination is to abolish classes entirely by expropriating private property, which is different from personal property, since it isn’t intended directly for personal use.
By abolishing private property and converting all of it into common property, we’d eradicate the very foundation of capitalism itself. There wouldn’t be a dictatorship of either economic class, since economic classes can’t exist in a society that recognizes all of Earth’s natural resources and means of production as the common heritage of mankind, just as we already do with the high seas via the Law of the Sea Treaty and outer space via the Outer Space Treaty. Without classes, there’d be no state, since a state’s just a means for one class to oppress another. Without private property, there wouldn’t be money, commodities, wages, or countries, since all stem from that. Without any of those, economic and political domination wouldn’t even be possible and, naturally, neither would class struggle, allowing for true democratic control over the means of reproducing life.
With all that being said, it’s important to clarify that a country having a “vanguard” state claiming to own the means of production on behalf of the proletariat means neither that the means of production are democratically controlled, nor that the working class has been emancipated. This is especially so when independent trade unions, strikes, and opposition parties were or are suppressed in practice. Socialism would be a direct democracy, which Leninist state legislatures have never had. Workers were never emancipated in any of these states, which is extremely obvious since strikes happened in the first place, but even more so since strikes were restricted or completely outlawed in some cases. Without recognizing all of that, we won’t even have a clear idea of what socialism will look like, let alone how to get there.
In the next issue, we’ll cover Principle Four, which clarifies the importance of workers’ emancipation, regardless of race and sex.