Socialism or barbarism

Members of the Australian Labor Party pledge to support the democratic socialisation of production, distribution and exchange to the extent necessary to eliminate exploitation and other anti-social features in these fields.

Labor Tribune holds that support for capitalism is incompatible with this pledge. Capitalism's essence is the accumulation of private wealth through the exploitation of human labour power and the out-of-control abuse of our planet's resources.

Only the complete socialisation of production, distribution and exchange can eliminate exploitation. The main structural impediment to human progress is the contradiction between the increasing socialised nature of production and the continued private accumulation of its wealth. Human progress is incompatible with private property.

Despite what many on the left and right would have us believe, capitalism is not the end of human history. Capitalism has shown that it is incapable of managing the development of its own productive forces: environmental calamity, continued militarism and a complete inversion of human priorities are the hallmarks of our age. Profit is king and it is in the interests of the overwhelming majority of people on the planet to overthrow this monarchy of money.

Far from the market being our salvation, as a mechanism of social mediation it is an abject failure. The state under capitalism is bloated beyond Byzantine levels of intricacy. The accumulation of capital increasingly relies on state intervention to prop up profits and market mechanisms: this is done through the hidden hand of regulation or the naked fist of militarism.

We face a choice between the barbarism of social alienation, increased militarism and environmental pillage or socialism, collective solutions to our problems and a positive future for our species.

What is socialism?

Socialism is the democratic rule of the working class. It is not an independent mode of production, neither is it nationalised property under capitalism. Taken to an international level, socialism is the transition period between capitalism and the end of class society and the state.

Socialism takes the world market and the highest levels of capitalist development as its starting point. Socialism must be international and democratic, or it turns into its opposite. It is not the generalisation of poverty, but the sustainable management of plenty.

While Labor Tribune vehemently opposes the neoliberal program that forces the world's working class, peasantry and the poor to pay for the excesses of capitalist globalisation, we recognise that globalisation is objectively progressive.

Without the wealth and productive forces unleashed by advanced capitalism, socialism is unthinkable. And given the global nature of capitalism, socialism in one country is impossible.

As Marx wrote in the German Ideology: This development of productive forces ... is an absolutely necessary practical premise because without it want is merely made general and, with destitution, the struggle for necessities and all the old shit would necessarily be reproduced.

Genuine socialism has nothing in common with Stalinist command economies and one-party states.

Our program for socialism is a democratic program. That is why the struggle for a democratic republic is central to our immediate demands. It unites the democratic struggles against the entire edifice of the modern capitalist state.

Socialism cannot be delivered from on high to the working class by a party or liberator. Genuine socialism can only achieved by the self-liberation of the working class. However, given the nature of organisation of the capitalist state, the working class needs a party to co-ordinate its democratic struggle against capitalism.

By fighting to extend the democratic limits of capitalism to bursting point in all spheres of society, the working class fights for the supersession of the capitalist order and stands on the threshold of its own class power.

Socialism is not merely the economic liberation of the working people. It is about the working class leading all democratic struggles in society. The liberation of women; overcoming sexual repression, racism and national oppression; and sustainable exploitation of the planet's resources can only be irreversibly achieved under democratic working class rule. This does not mean we put off the fight for democratic struggles until we have socialism. On the contrary, it is by championing the oppressed in society that the working class wins the right to be the ruling class.


Labor Tribune sees parliamentary involvement as a tactical necessity. Calls for socialism that ignore the parliamentary struggle are ultra-left utopianism. Parliament should be used to introduce legislation in the interests of the working class and as a platform for mobilising workers in struggle. Working class representatives should only accept the pay of the average skilled worker that they represent.

However, we should not enter parliament to manage capitalism, but to take the class struggle into the chamber: to be a voice for the working class, for republicanism, socialism and internationalism.

Peacefully if we can

Working class power and socialism will not come through parliament, but through our democratic struggles. Marxists use parliament as part of the struggle for the peaceful transfer of power to the working class. We fight for maximum working class representation in parliament. However, we realise that the rich and powerful will not allow socialism to be introduced with a parliamentary vote. We must prepare working people to defend their struggles and class power by force if necessary.

Industrial democracy

Despite universal suffrage, real power in society still rests with those that control private property. We won the right to vote for representatives in parliament, but it seems democracy must not be allowed to interfere with the market and the enjoyment of private property. Labor Tribune fights for the radical extension of democracy throughout society, including in the workplace through agitation for workers' control of production. We do not recognise that the right to manage comes from control of private property, but through the democratic control of workers.

Trade unions

Trade unions are the elementary bodies of working class struggle. In and of themselves, they are not socialistic. Attempts to paint any union struggle as a struggle for socialism are false and economistic. However, the struggle for socialism is impossible without organising in the trade union movement. We must fight for the unions to be turned into schools for rank-and-file democracy, for militant class struggle and for socialism.


Many on the left equate socialism with wholesale nationalisation. In a globalised world this is a false perspective and can only lead to an Australian autarchy cut off from the international division of labour. Far from providing a beacon to workers internationally it would lead to the impoverishment of Australian workers and the replacement of a democratic republican government with a bureaucratic governing caste managing society from above.

From the point of view of world socialism, programs for wholesale nationalisation are today objectively reactionary. The historic task of the working class is to fully socialise the giant transnational corporations not break them up into inefficient national units. Globalised production needs global social control.

There is nothing inherently socialistic about nationalised industries. Under definite circumstances, however, nationalisation serves the interests of the workers. Faced with plans for closure or mass sackings, we demand that the state - the executive committee of the capitalist class - not the workers bear the consequences for failure.

From the bastion of state power a democratic socialist state would wrest control from the capitalists by degrees. The pace of socialisation of production should reflect the development of socialism on a world scale.