Socialist Democracy is a Marxist organisation standing in the tradition of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and Connolly. We believe that the poverty and misery, the oppression and exploitation that marks our society is the result of control of the world’s wealth and productive resources by a tiny class that exploits the vast majority of society. This leads to humanity crippled by the reality and ideology of capitalist society. This reality leads the majority of humanity to premature death and the majority of working people to lives of drudgery and stress in a world over which they have no control. Human rights are routinely violated and inequality has grown dramatically. The ideas that support this social system are those of competition and the rat race. Humanity is left both physically and mentally scarred and disfigured while the planet it lives on is ravaged and devastated.
We struggle for a society in which class divisions are abolished and the state that enforces class rule withers away. A society based on common ownership and control of its resources by each and every one of its citizens, democratically determining the development of its economy and society, will eradicate the divisions of class, race, sex and religion. A democratically planned society has the potential to progressively reduce the burden of work allowing greater and greater participation in the running of society by those that create its wealth through their labour. The world of necessity (work) will give way to the world of freedom. This will lead to humanity actually living the ideas of cooperation and solidarity and see the true development of human personality in all its potential. Such a society, communism, will not create perfection because perfection itself is not a feature of humanity. It will remove the social causes of inhumanity so that everything that is truly human will be free.
Creation of such a society can only take place after a new state is created, one dedicated to the abolition of oppression and exploitation resulting from the existence of classes, and dedicated to its own disappearance as a state. Only the working class, as the overwhelming majority in the most developed countries, the creators of all wealth and with no other class below it which to exploit can be the agency of this change. This can only follow the expropriation of the capitalist class of its ownership of productive resources and destruction of the state structure that enforces its rule. The central task of the working class is the leadership of all the oppressed in society in the smashing of the existing state and creation of a new, truly democratic, worker’s state based on the workers’ and oppressed’s own organisations. This emancipation of the working class can only be achieved by the working class itself. Because the capitalist state is a creation of the capitalist class and functions as a weapon of its rule it cannot be taken over by the workers and used to further the abolition of classes and itself.
In other words it cannot be reformed. Workers must destroy it in revolution. A socialist revolution simply means the vast majority of society under working class leadership carrying out this task. It represents society’s majority becoming truly politically active for the first time. Similarly because society is structured around the ownership of productive resources by a tiny minority and the compulsion of the majority to work, in order to live, to create profit for that minority, society cannot be reformed to abolish exploitation or the periodic economic crises that result from it. Only common ownership and control of the economic and social resources of society can abolish exploitation and the unemployment and attacks on living standards that arise from crises. Again this is only possible through revolution.
The working class must therefore become the new ruling class of society, but a ruling class that seeks its own disappearance. The task of Marxists is to help train and prepare the working class for this role. This means that the working class must master all the issues of exploitation and oppression that affect everyone in capitalist society. The oppression of women is central to this task and while women’s liberation is not possible except as part of the socialist project neither can this project succeed unless women’s liberation is at its heart. The degree of progress in achieving socialism will best be measured by the advancement of women from all forms of subordination. The task of Marxists is not therefore to lead the economic struggles of workers to overthrow exploitation. It is to engage with all struggles to point them to a political struggle against the capitalist state.
In order to formulate and defend the ideas of working class liberation and to promote the revolutionary organisation of the working class it is necessary to organise the most class-conscious members of the oppressed into a political party that can combat all the other parties of the other classes. The revolutionary workers party must fight for the allegiance of the whole working class and seek by its activity to represent the interests of the whole class. It must therefore reject all divisions and reject turning itself into a sect that defends only some particular theory or tactic which it seeks to impose on the real workers movement. It must learn from the bureaucratisation of earlier worker’s parties and defend the democratic functioning of its internal life. This includes the right to free and open debate inside the party and also in front of the whole class. It means the right of party members to form tendencies and factions within the party to promote the debate on party policy and action. Democracy is advanced by all members of the party joining together to implement the policies of the majority so that their ideas may be subjected to the judgement of real practice. Such organisation is known as democratic centralism.
Socialism cannot be achieved in one country but must embrace every country of the world. From this flows the necessity of international organisation both for Marxists and the working class. The increasing globalisation of production means that only international organisation is capable of defeating the increasing organisation of the capitalist class on an international basis, evidenced through the European Union, World Bank, NATO, IMF and WTO and multinational companies. Socialist internationalism is irreconcilably opposed to all forms of nationalism. While we support the democratic content of the nationalism of oppressed peoples we recognise that only socialism can promise democracy for such peoples. In opposition to imperialism we seek the maximum voluntary unity of every nationality. We oppose the commodification of culture and support the free cultural development of every people.
In Ireland we oppose the imperialist occupation of the country and division of the working class it creates: between North and South and Protestant and Catholic. We stand for the complete unity of the Irish working class and oppose those movements and ideologies that promote its division such as loyalism. Likewise we oppose Irish nationalism which is the ideology of the Irish capitalist class and is an ally of imperialism standing in the way of Irish workers achieving unity and independence. We demand a democratic solution to the national question through self-determination for the whole Irish people. This demand is an integral part of the democratic and socialist programme that sets out the tasks of creating an Irish worker’s state. The programme of Socialist Democracy can be found in our publications and sets out our understanding of the nature of the Irish revolution and the tasks to be accomplished to achieve it. It sets out our principles and policies and is the fruit of continuing debate within our organisation and with revolutionaries outside it.
We have identified two immediate tasks for the Irish working class. The first is to oppose the Good Friday Agreement which is an attempt to strengthen imperialist rule, reinforce partition and bolster the sectarianism that helps prevent the unity of the working class. We work to build a political opposition to the Agreement that can mobilise mass resistance to imperialism. We oppose republican militarist conceptions of struggle that stand in the way of the oppressed achieving their own freedom. The second is to oppose social partnership in the south of the country, which preaches a false identity of interest between workers and bosses.