Thursday, 3 December 2009
Socialism is the only system within which the problems that now face workers can be solved - but what will it be like? Socialism is a system in which the means for producing and distributing wealth will be owned by society as a whole. Socialism will end the class monopoly of the means of production that exists in capitalism, converting what is now the private property of a few into the common property of
all. Socialism will be a genuinely classless society in which the exploitation and oppression of humanby human will have been abolished. All human beings will be social equals, freely able to co-operate in
running social affairs.
Drawing up a detailed blueprint for socialism is premature, since the exact forms will depend upon the technical conditions and preferences of those who set up and live in socialism, but we can broadly outline the features essential to a socialist society.
Socialism can only be democratic. At one time socialism was also known as ‘social democracy’, a phrase which shows well that democratic control would extend to all aspects of social affairs, including the production and distribution of wealth. There is an old socialist slogan which speaks of ‘government over people’ giving way to ‘the administration of things’, meaning that the public power of coercion, and the government which operates it, will have no place in socialism. The state, which is an organisation staffed by soldiers, the police, judges and jailers charged with enforcing the law, is only needed in class society for in such societies there is no real community of interest, only class conflict. The purpose of government is to maintain law and order in the interests of the dominant class. It is in fact an instrument of class oppression. In socialism there will be no classes and no built-in class conflicts: everyone will have the same basic social interest. In these circumstances there is no need for any coercive machine to govern or rule over people. The phrase ‘socialist government’ is a contradiction in terms. Where there is socialism there can be no government and where there is
government there is no socialism.
Those who wrongly assume that government and administration are one and the same will have some difficulty in imagining a society without government. A society without administration would indeed be impossible since ‘society’ implies that human beings organise themselves to provide for their needs. However, a society without government is both possible and desirable. Socialism will in fact mean the extension of democratic administration to all aspects of social life on the basis of the common
ownership of the means of living. There will be administrative centres that will be clearing-houses for settling social affairs by majority decision.
But will the administrators become the new ruling class? Democratic organisation does indeed involve the delegation of functions to groups and individuals. Such people will be charged by the community with organising necessary social functions. They will be chosen by the community and will be answerable to it. Those who perform the administrative functions in socialism will be in no position to dominate. They will not be regarded as superior persons, as tends to be the case today, but as social equals doing an essential job. Nor will they have at their command armies and police to enforce their will. There will be no opportunity for bribery and corruption since everybody, including those in administrative occupations, will have free access to the stock of wealth set aside for consumption. In short, the material conditions for the rise of a new ruling class would not exist.
The purpose of socialist production will be simply and solely to satisfy human needs and desires. Under present arrangements production is for the market with a view to profit. This will be replaced with production solely and directly for use. The production and distribution of sufficient wealth to meet the needs of the socialist community as individuals and as a community will be an administrative and organisational problem, it will be no small problem but the tools for solving it have already been created by capitalism.
Capitalism has developed technology and social productivity to the point where plenty for all can be produced. A society of abundance has long been technically possible and it is this that is the material basis for socialism. Capitalism, because it is a class society with production geared to profit making rather than meeting human needs, cannot make full use of the worldwide productive system it has built up over the last two hundred or so years. Socialism, making full use of the developed methods ofproduction brought in by capitalism, will alter the purpose of production entirely. Men and women will be producing wealth solely to meet their needs and desires, and not for the profit of a privileged few.
Unlike capitalism with its profit-driven economy, a socialist system of production for use would operate in direct response to needs. Monetary calculation would be replaced by calculation in kind - that is, calculation in real quantities - and the market could be replaced by a self-regulating system of stock-control, a system initially built up by supermarkets and other retail outlets in capitalism. This
system could work in the following way without the need for a price mechanism. Real social - rather than monetary - demand would arise through individual consumers exercising their right of free access to consumer goods and services according to their self-defined needs, constrained only by what could be made available. Such needs would be expressed to units of production as required quantities such as
grammes, kilos, cubic metres, tonnes, etc, of various materials and quantities of goods requiring productive activity from the different scales of social production. There would be no need for a bureaucratic pre-determined allocative plan.
Read the whole pamphlet here.
More pamphlets here.