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Socialist Party of Great Britain

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The Socialist Party of Great Britain (SPGB) is a Marxist political party within the impossibilist tradition. It is best known for its advocacy of using the ballot box for revolutionary purposes; opposition to reformism; and its early adoption of the theory of state capitalism to describe the Soviet Union. Regular columns in their journal Socialist Standard are critical of the empirical basis of religion and conspiracy theories. They have debated against positive money[clarification needed]. Criticism is also made of various pseudoscientific economic theories of avoiding economic crises including Monetarism, Social Credit and Keynesianism.


the development of science, and the decay of religion, are themselves ultimately explicable only from the evolution of economic conditions. Ideas play a secondary part in social development. They are the effects of the material environment upon human beings, and are not the creative motive force of social evolution. Consequently, in his worship of the “idea” the bourgeois freethinker is, like the Christian, attributing miraculous powers to the figments of men’s brains. —Socialism and Religion (1911)
the spread of Christianity throughout Europe was largely due to its utility as an instrument of government in the hands of kings. —Socialism and Religion (1911)
The success of a religious movement has generally, if not invariably, been associated with a movement for improving the moral and secular advantages of those whom it seeks to benefit.” —Socialism and Religion (1911)


How to reconcile a labour theory of value with the averaging of profits was a problem that baffled Adam Smith and Ricardo. But Marx solved it in the only way possible by abandoning the assumption that all commodities sell at their values. —Some Aspects of Marxian Economics (2004)
The Social Democrats confused the two issues of the business cycle and the collapse of capitalism. They believed that the business cycle was caused by the sort of underconsumption that meant that its crises would get worse and worse until the whole capitalist system collapsed. This basically is Boudin’s position. Tugan-Baranovsky’s view refutes the theory that in the long run capitalism must collapse by demonstrating the possibility of long term growth under capitalism, but it does not, and was not meant to, establish that this growth will be steady and crisis-free. In fact, due to the anarchy of production under capitalism, crises are likely to occur for either of two reasons. When the accumulation or capital brings on a labour shortage, rising wages could reduce the rate of profit and so check expansion. —Books and Pamphlets on Marxian Economics, Education Committee, (July 1971)


What of the modern economists, now numbering many hundreds? Few of them even claim to be serious students in the way that Smith, Ricardo, Marx and Keynes were. To quote what Marx wrote of their predecessors, "they spend their time in chewing the cud of materials provided by others", and "proclaiming as eternal verities, the most trivial and self-complacent notions —Socialist Standard (April 1973)
Economists do not exist mainly to promote enlightenment, to discover how the economy works or-for other such vague and worthy purposes. Like other producers, economists survive and prosper by studying the market and supplying what it appears to want. —Socialist Standard (April 1973)
As the twentieth century has worn on, so economics has moved from being the observation of verifiable phenomena and argumentation developed from this into being an entire pseudo-science which today finds expression in the construction of increasingly elaborate economic models, a practice otherwise known as "econometrics". Econometrics must rank as the most dismal failure of the dismal science so far. Responsible for laughably inaccurate Treasury forecasts and much else, econometrics is now openly derided by many economists themselves who have now realised that what socialists were telling them at the beginning of the century was true all along: capitalism is an anarchic and uncontrollable system which has an unnerving habit of making fools out of those who seek to plan or guide its development. Paul Ormerod was one of those honest enough to recognise this in his book The Death of Economics, where he wrote that today "economic forecasts are the subject of open derision. Throughout the Western world their accuracy is appalling". —The Death of the dismal science, Socialist Standard (December 1999)


That members of our species are able to adapt to different environments does indeed have a biological basis, in our biologically evolved and inherited brains. What genes determine in humans are the physical characteristics and mode of functioning of this brain, but not the actual behaviour and behaviour patterns these brains enable us to engage in and which we actually do engage in. In other words, human nature is one thing, human behaviour another. —Prisoners of Our Genes (2004)
even the biologically inherited and gene-governed characteristics of our species were partly the product of our acquired, non-gene-governed behaviour. —Prisoners of Our Genes (2004)
Once humans had evolved as a biological species with specific biological features their evolution ceased to be biological in the sense of an adaptation of their biological characteristics; in fact it was their very biological characteristics that brought this about: a brain capable of abstract thought, a vocal system capable of speech, and hands capable of using and making tools. This biological heritage made humans into toolmaking animals, the tools they made becoming non-biological extensions of their bodies. —Prisoners of Our Genes (2004)


in the vast majority of species the struggle for existence was a collective effort, with the members of the same species living in groups whose members co-operated with—mutually aided—each other to survive. —Prisoners of Our Genes (2004)
The scientist and visionary Carl Sagan once put it rather well: "Humans have evolved gregariously. We delight in each other's company; we care for one another. Altruism is built into us. We have brilliantly deciphered some of the patterns of Nature. We have sufficient motivation to work together and the ability to figure out how to do it. If we are willing to contemplate nuclear war and the wholesale destruction of our emerging global society, should we not also be willing to contemplate a wholesale restructuring of our societies?" —Prisoners of Our Genes (2004)

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