|CAPITALISM V. SOCIALISM|
Humanity now faces changes in our planet's climate that could not only make socialism a mere dream, but make the Earth itself uninhabitable. There is not a more defining struggle in this century than that. We are approaching tipping points which if reached will give climate change a momentum that human actions will have little or no control over. Global warming will be irreversible.
The basic economic structure of contemporary societies, with no exceptions, is capitalist. Capitalism marks the whole of our society and our way of life globally, regionally and nationally. But what is capitalism? Societies are capitalist, inasmuch as capital production, accumulation and profit dominate economy and society. Socialism is a society in which production, services and their distribution are dominated by the goal of producing the best possible conditions of the unfolding of the individuality of all, so that they may be used by the individuals both for their own well-being as well as for the solidary development of the productive forces of the community. Marx and Engels formulated it this way: “an association where the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all”. In socialist society production is not for profit but for use. The objective of a socialist society is the promotion of a free, universal development of its individuals mediated by the solidary development of all.
It is evident that some people are gravitating toward criticising society, shifting the idea of radical change. Socialism, it is correctly said, must be the product of an engaged, united, and politically sophisticated majority. It doesn't follow that such a majority will simply emerge out of everyday struggles. Economic crisis alone, however, is not the sole cause of revolutionary change. The soil is prepared via the cumulative impact of many different crises - economic, political, social, and moral - taking place over time, during which people's understanding gains in sophistication (going beyond "them and us" and "the system sucks"), unity broadens and deepens, and organizational capacities and infrastructures grow by leaps and bounds. The idea of economic breakdown followed by "the revolution" should be retired. It should be replaced by an understanding of a more protracted and complicated political/historical process. The struggle for democracy, economic and political, is at the core of the struggle for socialism. It's not a diversion or a secondary.
Society can no longer feed itself. Not here and there alone, but everywhere where capitalism rules, from all quarters comes the same tale. Famine-stricken where food is plenty; ill clad where clothing lacks not; homeless among empty houses; shivering by mountains of fuel; tramping where transport rust. There is no promise of alleviation, but rather portents of worse to come. When the societies of old could no longer feed themselves they perished. And capitalist society is about to perish. A revolution is at hand. Another leap in the process of evolution.
Social reform is not socialism. Capitalism can be reformed. It can be reformed in many ways. But it cannot be reformed in such a manner as to effect an essential improvement in the working class conditions of life. The efficient operation of capitalist industry requires requires a working class always at the beck and call of the master class. Only by keeping the workers bordering on necessity at all times can this condition be assured. The whiplash of poverty is far more effective than any coercive force could be in keeping them tied to the machine and subservient to their masters. Those who would administer the affairs of capitalism are limited in their endeavors by the requirements of capitalism, and even though they would bend every energy to lighten the burdens of the workers, the system itself inevitably reduces the results to disheartening proportions.
Socialism has not yet been established in any country. It exists today only as an independent working class movement striving against the opposition of capitalist and labour parties alike, its energies directed without deviation towards a single goal. There are no short cuts to socialism. It can be reached only through the conscious political organisation of the working class. But with that organisation accomplished, no obstacle can stand in the road. Socialism may be had for the taking. Take it. An examination of society has taught us that nothing less than socialism can suffice. The workers cannot depend upon others to do the job for them. It is a job that requires conscious and deliberate effort on their part. It is a job which they must do themselves. Socialism will not solve all the problems of human society. But it will solve all the basic economic difficulties that are a constant source of torment to so many of its members. The solution of a single one of these difficulties would warrant its introduction. The solution of them all renders it imperative.
Socialism solves the problem of distribution. Its introduction will mean the conversion of all the means of production and distribution from private or class property into the common property of all the members of society. Goods will no longer be produced for sale; they will be produced for use. The guiding principle behind the operations of industry will be the requirements of mankind, not the prospects of profit. Production under socialism will be pre-determined, and distribution effected with neither advertising nor sales staff, thus reducing wasted materials to the minimum and making possible the transfer of great numbers of workers to desired occupations.
The ending of exchange relationships will bring at the same time the ending of an exchange medium. There being neither sale nor profit associated with the production and distribution of goods, neither will there be money in any of its forms. Currency, credit and banking, whether private or “socialised”, will pass out of existence.
The advent of common property means the abolition of private or class property, which in turn means the abolition of class society together with the class struggle. The antagonistic classes of today will become merged in a people with common interests, and the former capitalists will have the opportunity of becoming useful members of society. This will not only remove the greatest of the burdens resting today on the backs of the workers, it will also further augment the available labor supply, by the inclusion of the capitalists and their former personal attendants, thus contributing to the general reduction in labour time needed to produce society’s requirements.
The workers today are fighting not only against the man-made laws of capitalism, but also against all the laws of economics. So long as their labour power remains a commodity they cannot essentially better their condition. So long as they allow the capitalists’ claim to the resources of the earth and the machinery of production, slaves they must remain, and as slaves they must expect to be treated. Their only hope lies in their emancipation from slavery – and they alone can achieve that emancipation. The outcome of the struggle between the capitalist class and the working class will be the Social Revolution. By political force the working class must wrest from the capitalist class the reins of government and must use the powers of the State to legislate in its own interests. By that stroke classes will be overthrown and labor power cease to be a commodity; production will be for use and not for profit; government of persons will die out and be replaced by an administration of things. The workers, controlling the means of production, will also control the resultant wealth and they will then be able to individually enjoy what they collectively produce.
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