Democratic politics and the state

In this there is an essential role for the democratic State, which can and must be a force for safeguarding democratic structures and practices and for meeting those needs not met by the market in a socialist economy. The democratic socialist sees this State as the guardian of rights and freedoms, as well as being the means by which society democratically determines its overall social and economic priorities.

The democratic socialist sees the road to socialism via the extension of democratic practice: the challenge to unaccountable economic power; the development of public, community and co-operative enterprise; and through the campaigning and legislation of the democratic socialist Labour Party. It is a parliamentary and extra-parliamentary project.

The democratic socialist transformation cannot simply be a parliamentary achievement. Without a thriving extra-parliamentary movement with widespread public support the democratic project cannot be put on the agenda of history. Democracy implies consent and active support not simply legislative edict.

The contemporary democratic socialist knows that we have to work for socialist renewal: that we have to stress the moral, ethical and democratic aspects of socialism as well as the environmental and economic ones, and that we have to make a break with the burdensome aspects of the past and eradicate the negative perceptions and fears that are a major block to the process of renewal. We also have to acknowledge that there is no inherent instinct for socialism or social change (as some on the left have been inclined to believe), and that the development of capitalism, with all its injustice, has not produced a polarised mass class consciousness committed to the transformation of society.

The gradations and grey areas of social stratification persist and proliferate and become more complex. There is no reason to believe that political understanding flows automatically from experience. Nor is there an inevitable and causal link between political understanding and gender, race, colour, age, physical ability or sexuality.