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Congresses

I Congress of the Socialist International, Frankfurt

30 June-03 July 1951


AIMS AND TASKS OF DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM

 

Declaration of the Socialist International

adopted at its First Congress held in

Frankfort-on-Main on 30 June-3 July 1951

 

1. From the nineteenth century onwards, capitalism has developed immense productive forces. It has done so at the cost of excluding the great majority of citizens from influence over production. It put the rights of ownership before the rights of man. It created a new class of wage-earners without property or social rights. It sharpened the struggle between the classes.

Although the world contains resources which could be made to provide a decent life for everyone, capitalism has been incapable of satisfying the elementary needs of the world’s population. It proved unable to function without devastating crises and mass unemployment. It produced social insecurity and glaring contrasts between rich and poor. It resorted to imperialist expansion and colonial exploitation, thus making conflicts between nations and races more bitter. In some countries powerful capitalist groups helped the barbarism of the past to raise its head again in the form of Fascism and Nazism.

 

2. Socialism was born in Europe as a movement of protest against the diseases inherent in capitalist society. Because the wage-earners suffered most from capitalism, Socialism first developed as a movement of the wage-earners. Since then more and more citizens — professional and clerical workers, farmers and fishermen, craftsmen and retailers, artists and scientists — are coming to understand that Socialism appeals to all men who believe that the exploitation of man by man must be abolished.

 

3. Socialism aims to liberate the peoples from dependence on a minority which owns or controls the means of production. It aims to put economic power in the hands of the people as a whole, and to create a community in which free men work together as equals.

 

4. Socialism has become a major force in world affairs. It has passed from propaganda into practice. In some countries the foundations of a Socialist society have already been laid. Here the evils of capitalism are disappearing and the community has developed new vigour. The principles of Socialism are proving their worth in action.

 

5. In many countries uncontrolled capitalism is giving place to an economy in which state intervention and collective ownership limit the scope of private capitalists. More people are coming to recognise the need for planning. Social security, free trade unionism and industrial democracy are winning ground. This development is largely a result of long years of struggle by Socialists and trade unionists. Wherever Socialism is strong, important steps have been taken towards the creation of a new social order.

6. In recent years the peoples in the underdeveloped areas of the world have been finding Socialism a valuable aid in the struggle for national freedom and higher standards of life. Here different forms of democratic Socialism are evolving under the pressure of different circumstances. The main enemies of Socialism in these areas are parasitical exploitation by indigenous financial oligarchies and colonial exploitation by foreign capitalists. The Socialists fight for political and economic democracy, they seek to raise the standard of living for the masses through land reform and industrialisation, the extension of public ownership and the development of producers’ and consumers’ cooperatives.

 

7. Meanwhile, as Socialism advances throughout the world, new forces have arisen to threaten the movement towards freedom and social justice. Since the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, Communism has split the International Labour Movement and has set back the realisation of Socialism in many countries for decades.

 

8. Communism falsely claims a share in the Socialist tradition. In fact it has distorted that tradition beyond recognition. It has built up a rigid theology which is incompatible with the critical spirit of Marxism.

 

9. Where Socialists aim to achieve freedom and justice by removing the exploitation which divides men under capitalism, Communists seek to sharpen those class divisions only in order to establish the dictatorship of a single party.

 

10. International Communism is the instrument of a new imperialism. Wherever it has achieved power it has destroyed freedom or the chance of gaining freedom. It is based on a militarist bureaucracy and a terrorist police. By producing glaring contrasts of wealth and privilege it has created a new class society. Forced labour plays an important part in its economic organisation.

 

11. Socialism is an international movement which does not demand a rigid uniformity of approach. Whether Socialists build their faith on Marxist or other methods of analysing society, whether they are inspired by religious or humanitarian principles, they all strive for the same goal — a system of social justice, better living, freedom and world peace.

 

12. The progress of science and technical skill has given man increased power either to improve his lot or to destroy himself. For this reason production cannot be left to the play of economic liberalism but must be planned systematically for human needs. Such planning must respect the rights of the individual personality. Socialism stands for freedom and planning in both national and international affairs.

 

13. The achievement of Socialism is not inevitable. It demands a personal contribution from all its followers. Unlike the totalitarian way it does not impose on the people a passive role. On the contrary, it cannot succeed without thorough-going and active participation by the people. It is democracy in its highest form.

 

POLITICAL DEMOCRACY

 

1. Socialists strive to build a new society in freedom and by democratic means.

 

 

2. Without freedom there can be no Socialism. Socialism can be achieved only through democracy. Democracy can be fully realised only through Socialism.

 

3. Democracy is government of the people, by the people, for the people. It must secure:

 

a. The right of every human being to a private life, protected from arbitrary invasion by the state.

b. Political liberties like freedom of thought, expression, education, organisation and religion.

c. The representation of the people through free elections, under universal, equal and secret franchise.

d. Government by the majority and respect for the rights of the minority.

e. The equality before the law of all citizens, whatever their birth, sex, language, creed and colour.

f. Right to cultural autonomy for groups with their own language.

g. An independent judiciary system; every man must have the right to a public trial before an impartial tribunal by due process of law.

 

4. Socialists have always fought for the rights of man. The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man which has been adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations must be made effective in every country.

 

5. Democracy requires the right of more than one party to exist and the right of opposition. But democracy has the right and duty to protect itself against those who exploit its opportunities only in order to destroy it. The defence of political democracy is a vital interest of the people. Its preservation is a condition of realising economic and social democracy.

 

6. Policies based on the protection of capitalist interests cannot develop the strength and unity needed to defend democracy from totalitarian attack. Democracy can only be defended with the active help of the workers, whose fate depends on its survival.

 

7. Socialists express their solidarity with all peoples suffering under dictatorship, whether Fascist or Communist, in their efforts to win freedom.

 

8. Every dictatorship, wherever it may be, is a danger to the freedom of all nations and thereby to the peace of the world. Wherever there is unrestrained exploitation of forced labour, whether under private profit or under political dictatorship, there is a danger to the living and moral standards of all the peoples.

 

ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY

 

1. Socialism seeks to replace capitalism by a system in which the public interest takes precedence over the interest of private profit. The immediate economic aims of Socialist policy are full employment, higher production, a rising standard of life, social security and a fair distribution of incomes and property.

 

2. In order to achieve these ends production must be planned in the interest of the people as a whole.

 

Such planning is incompatible with the concentration of economic power in the hands of a few. It requires effective democratic control of the economy.

 

Democratic Socialism therefore stands in sharp contradiction both to capitalist planning and to every form of totalitarian planning; these exclude public control of production and a fair distribution of its results.

 

3. Socialist planning can be achieved by various means. The structure of the country concerned must decide the extent of public ownership and the forms of planning to apply.

 

4. Public ownership can take the form of the nationalisation of existing private concerns, municipal or regional enterprise, consumers’ or producers’ cooperatives.

 

These various forms of public ownership should be regarded not as ends in themselves but as means of controlling basic industries and services on which the economic life and welfare of the community depend, of rationalising inefficient industries or of preventing private monopolies and cartels from exploiting the public.

 

5. Socialist planning does not presuppose public ownership of all the means of production. It is compatible with the existence of private ownership in important fields, for instance in agriculture, handicraft, retail trade and small and middle-sized industries. The state must prevent private owners from abusing their powers. It can and should assist them to contribute towards increased production and well-being within the framework of a planned economy.

 

6. Trade unions and organisations of producers and consumers are necessary elements in a democratic society; they should never be allowed to degenerate into the tools of a central bureaucracy or into a rigid corporative system. Such economic organisations should participate in shaping general economic policy without usurping the constitutional prerogatives of parliament.

 

7. Socialist planning does not mean that all economic decisions are placed in the hands of the Government or central authorities. Economic power should be decentralised wherever this is compatible with the aims of planning.

 

8. All citizens should prevent the development of bureaucracy in public and private industry by taking part in the process of production through their organisations or by individual initiative. The workers must be associated democratically with the direction of their industry.

 

9. Democratic Socialism aims at extending individual freedom on the basis of economic and social security and an increasing prosperity.

 

SOCIAL DEMOCRACY AND CULTURAL PROGRESS

 

1. While the guiding principle of capitalism is private profit the guiding principle of Socialism is the satisfaction of human needs.

 

2. Basic human needs must make the first claim on the distribution of the fruits of production; this need not deprive the individual of the incentive to work according to his capacity. Socialists accept as self-evident the individual’s right to be rewarded according to his efforts. But they believe that there are other incentives, like pride in work well done, solidarity and team spirit which can be strengthened when men work for the common interest.

 

3. Socialism stands not only for basic political rights but also for economic and social rights. Among these rights are:

 

the right to work;

 

the right to medical and maternity benefits;

 

the right to leisure;

 

the right to economic security for citizens unable to work because of old age, incapacity or unemployment;

 

the right of children to welfare and of the youth to education in accordance with their abilities;

 

the right to adequate housing.

 

4. Socialists strive to abolish all legal, economic and political discrimination between the sexes, between social groups, between town and countryside, between regional and between racial groups.

 

5. Socialism means far more than a new economic and social system. Economic and social progress have moral value to the extent that they serve to liberate and develop the human personality.

 

6. Socialists oppose capitalism not only because it is economically wasteful and because it keeps the masses from their material rights, but above all because it revolts their sense of justice. They oppose totalitarianism in every form because it outrages human dignity.

 

7. Socialism fights to liberate men from the fears and anxieties from which all forms of political and economic insecurity are inseparable. This liberation will open the way to the spiritual development of men conscious of their responsibilities and to the cultural evolution of complete personalities. Socialism is a powerful factor in promoting this cultural development.

 

8. Socialism seeks to give men all the means to raise their cultural standard and foster the creative aspirations of the human spirit. The treasures of art and science must be made available to all men.

 

INTERNATIONAL DEMOCRACY

 

1. The Socialist movement has been an international movement from the beginning.

 

2. Democratic Socialism is international because it aims at liberating all men from every form of economic, spiritual and political bondage.

 

3. Democratic Socialism is international because it recognises that no nation can solve all its economic and social problems in isolation.

 

4. Absolute national sovereignty must be transcended.

 

5. The new world society for which Socialists strive can develop fruitfully in peace only if it is based on voluntary cooperation between nations. Democracy must, therefore, be established on an international scale under an international rule of law which guarantees national freedom and the rights of man.

 

6. Democratic Socialism regards the establishment of the United Nations as an important step towards an international community; it demands the strict implementation of the principles of its Charter.

 

7. Democratic Socialism rejects every form of imperialism. It fights the oppression or exploitation of any people.

 

8. A negative anti-imperialism is not enough. Vast areas of the world suffer from extreme poverty, illiteracy and disease. Poverty in one part of the world is a threat to prosperity in other parts. Poverty is an obstacle to the development of democracy. Democracy, prosperity and peace require a redistribution of the world’s wealth and an increase in the productivity of the underdeveloped areas. All people have an interest in raising the material and cultural standards in those areas. Democratic Socialism must inspire the economic, social and cultural development of these areas unless they are to fall victim to new forms of oppression.

 

9. Democratic Socialists recognise the maintenance of world peace as the supreme task in our time. Peace can be secured only by a system of collective security. This will create the conditions for international disarmament.

 

10. The struggle for the preservation of peace is inseparably bound up with the struggle for freedom. It is the threat to the independence of free peoples which is directly responsible for the danger of war in our time.

 

Socialists work for a world of peace and freedom, for a world in which the exploitation and enslavement of men by men and peoples by peoples is unknown, for a world in which the development of the individual personality is the basis for the fruitful development of mankind. They appeal to the solidarity of all working men in the struggle for this great aim.

 


THE WORLD TODAY: THE SOCIALIST PERSPECTIVE

Declaration of the Socialist International endorsed at the Council Conference held in Oslo on 2-4 June 1962

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