Meaning of Socialism

To my mind socialism is best understood as a world view opposed to capitalism.  In the simplest terms, capitalism means rule by financial institutions through a dummy political system.  Socialism is opposed to this: it is committed to government of the people by the people for the people.  That is a phrase often cited in the USA, following Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, but nowhere in the world is it well realised.

Federalist Papers

It in no way matches the reality of American social structure.  The Federalist Papers make only one thing clear.  Democracy means demagogy and the owners of property must be protected against this.  So the constitution was constructed with this consideration about property rights to the fore.


Nevertheless the American Constitution was a good constitution.  It was the first state that went beyond that feudal principle found in monarchy whereby power is concentrated in one man.  It used the principle of separation of powers expounded by Montesquieu in his interpretation of political change after the English Civil War.  The separation of the institutions of state established in the American Constitution was pioneering.  Its weakness reflected the acceptance of slavery and racism that was widespread at that date.  Recognition of democracy only emerged after the American Civil War and Emancipation but it was an attenuated recognition.  Yet to say democracy in the USA is attenuated is not to say the institutions of that state are worthless.  Nor that democracy is empty; it is merely in the West exceedingly emaciated.  But it does suggest how urgent and important it is to develop our thinking about the state and constitution.

Capitalism Lawless

Myself, I do not believe that capitalism protects property rights.  Instead it protects the enduring interests of a very small number of families that have from time immemorial ruled.  To this end capitalism is constructed with a built-in tendency to lawlessness and piracy.  How this works is determined by the extensive power of the secret state.  One can see the effect but one cannot know how it is done, beyond two points.  Personal manipulation by deception is the underlying principle of control.  But in a world of large global corporations and a number of very large nation states, structure is necessary and this in substance is absent.  Further, modern technology, on the sub-miniature scale, nano- or micro- technology, facilitates large scale enlargement of covert activity and this is susceptible to improper use.  It must be checked.

Social Order Obsolete

You can see here now the fundamental beliefs upon which my socialism is constructed.  Firstly the secret state must be reduced so that it does its essential work of national security and nothing else.  Secondly a form of social order must be created which protects the property rights of all.  The former implies and the latter depends on a substantial enhancement of representation in democratic procedures.  Thirdly the mess, or one might say, outrage that is the modern corporation, needs radical re-structuring with an honestly representative role attached to trade unions.

Product of my Labour is my Property

Remember that, as John Locke said, the product of a man’s labour is his property.  The last fifty years have seen this principle being continuously ground down.  But its disregard has a far longer history and slavery is the extreme form of such exploitation and is a flaw of substance in western civilisation.


Zero hours contracts are in modern terms reductionist to the extreme.  But they follow a pattern that has a long tradition of work only being available at the beck and call of the employer.  Dock work was an example of this in earlier days.  Casualisation and the resultant insecurity of employment is the standard outcome.  Yet now these trends go wider.  ‘Work experience’, internships (unpaid or paid only on a ‘grace and favour’ or privilege basis) and ‘voluntary work’ are all means whereby people may be inveigled into work without pay.  Short term contracts are widely used and, like other forms of insecure tenure, have comparable consequences.  Agency workers one may assume have passed through a political filter that is concealed and that reduces nominal salary through repeated agency deductions and charges.


But to be paid for an hour or a day’s work is not enough.  The obligations of society in relation to work and pay go wider than this.  The Factory Acts of the 19th century and the welfare legislation of the 20th century in the UK demonstrate this.  And, as John Ruskin says, the New Testament also recognised this point.  For a working man must receive compensation that meets his needs as a member of society, and especially as a family member.  He will be paid for today’s work only, but he must budget for tomorrow’s rent and for food for himself and family.  After he has trained for years to build up skill, he must maintain this skill beyond the few hours of routinised work that an employer may deign to offer him.  And he must have the means to establish his place in the social order.  (And this may mean something more than a visit to a pub.)  Moreover all have a need for security and pay must embrace that requirement.  Only then can one build a life into the future.  A home is one’s property and modern tenancy laws do not protect the right to a home.


However these current concerns, which are often neglected or given mere lip-service, scarcely touch the key issues.  I have suggested that the current social order – one in which the extreme right is already dominant – does not protect property rights.  This is acutely clear in the case of a woman’s income and status.  But the core issue is the secret state which conceals far more than is required by the exigencies of state security.  In particular the secret system conceals crime and fraud on the part of members of the system.

Marx still matters

Thus emerges the two-class society described by Marx: rentier class (“the owners of the means of production”) and proletariat.  Rentier income whether dividend or trust fund is largely undisclosed.  It is concealed with few exceptions by the veil of secrecy.


With the reduction of manufacturing industry in the UK in recent decades, it is not clear where the source of rentier income is to be found, unless it is via transfers through tax havens.  If you seek work today, you are encouraged to start your own business.  Nevertheless engineering, telecoms and the media including film are examples of growing industries in the UK today.

Deformed Financial Sector

When you or I start in business it is on a small scale and in all probability will be overcome by obstacles; you will end up as a freelance in a down bound spiral.  Rentier income is drawn from the large enterprises.  These enterprises assume without justification the powers of government.  They are almost entirely inadequately audited enterprises.  Even more so the organisations within the financial sub-system that are not banks remain unknown and unaudited.  Here there is no structure.  To the mathematicians who make up the bulk of financial personnel, structure is a mathematical formula.  But real structure is composed of the social organisations in which transactions are conducted and the rules and sanctions that shape these transactions.  Apart from the banks, private equity, LLPs, hedge funds and dark pools are all beyond the reach of public knowledge.  The vast range of financial derivatives (ETFs, CFDs, etc.) only serve to cheat the saver and the pension fund.  Crypto-currencies are wildly implausible and the ultimate proof of the lawless ethos of capitalism.  Major reform of the financial system is needed.

Elitism obstructs Progress

In short, the elite of families that control capitalism use that power to control governments and cheat peoples.  That is wrong.  I repeat, far from being a system that protects property rights, capitalism is lawless and piratical.  I support a system that protects property rights and this protection is the right of every working man or woman.  I want to see a structure of society comparable not to the Eiffel Tower (see current differentials in pay between highest and lowest) but more like a pyramid with only a few levels of differentiation.


Today extortionate management practices are widely found; this recently has become publicly recognised and detailed.  Yet the scale of corporate malpractice is far larger.  But change is not on the horizon.  Socialism has been pushed aside.  By the hollow political centre, only lip-service will be given to the change needed.  The change I am demanding is fourfold: cut back the excesses of the secret state; build anew the institutions of the state; build anew the financial sub-system so that the government controls it and not the other way round; reduce the power of the rentier class and give added substance to the overt institutions (schools, hospitals and universities) of the social world.

Need for Constitutional Change

This means constitutional change as well as financial re-organisation.  The result will be to bring well-constructed law back into play so that contracts will no longer be specious bundles of paper.  Today a contract will protect the large organisation; it will leave the individual party to a contract impotent.  Fair and remunerated full employment can and should be written into the constitution.  Socialism demands a representative system that is true and no longer a pretentious charade.  It is necessary because the failure of capitalism demands complete replacement.







Relevance of Montesquieu

Today we are truly in a crisis of proportions that no-one anticipated.  To completely reconstruct the financial system and apparatus of ownership is the urgent task of today.  But it must be done on a world-wide scale.  This may seem impossible, but the ESG movement acknowledges this dimension.  Meanwhile we must attend to prerequisite constitutional change in the UK.  The inheritance of political power that is integral to monarchy is long past its time. 

The lessons of Montesquieu need advancing far further and these reforms will constitute an important first step in the implementation of modern socialism.  This is critical.  There is not these days a President or PM or CEO or any other similar figure that has not sought to enhance his powers.  But the division of powers between President, PM, legislature, legal system, public administration and the financial sub-system needs to be worked out afresh.  Constitutional monarchy contributed one major element to constitutions – the limitations on the powers of the sovereign.  

Bearing these considerations in mind, representative procedures can be established that make democracy a reality and not a charade.  It is a major and credible agenda and one that financial interests are desperate to obliterate.

Excess of Violence in 20th Century

In this brief statement I have not mentioned many broad aspects of society.  Beyond the concerns of ecologists, or of women, for example, the veiled privatisation of the NHS is another instance in process.  These wider concerns are important.  I mentioned that from the faults in capitalism, flaws in western civilisation may be traced.  The 20th century may be described as a century of excessive violence.  But this excess has a much longer history.  Socialists have often tended towards pacifism and I guess this belief arose in response to violent excess.  We need to develop anew this critique of western society.

Socialist Foreign Policy

Again I have not mentioned foreign policy.  But it is clear that slavery has been an enduring accompaniment of imperialism.  If we reject imperialism – the domination of one people over another – then a socialist foreign policy will follow, leading to much improvement in international relations.


I have focussed on the core issue – the failure of capitalism, and the remedy.  I believe if we can tackle this issue, much benefit will follow for all areas of society.  It is necessary first to prise open and understand the fundamental structures of capitalism.  Only then can the flaws be remedied; and so a more just society created, with procedures of representation endowing a government empowered to manage and control the financial sector.








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