Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Revealing Socialism

Common misconceptions about socialism why socialism it wouldn’t work, of how it goes against “human nature,” and that there is no incentive to work, and so on are caused by a basic misunderstanding of what socialism is. This is not surprising, given the fact that the word socialism is so loosely tossed around so much. Socialism is poorly understood. What is crucially missed is that socialism means more democracy and freedom, not less. Over a century’s worth of state propaganda regarding socialism emanating from the West and the USSR has intensely distorted the public understanding of the concept. Many associate it with state monopoly, authoritarian central planning, and a one-party police state. If socialism meant any of these things, it should justly be discarded in the waste bin of history. Socialism has traditionally meant the opposite of these things: it has meant worker freedom and worker democracy. The public as to what socialism really is, don’t generally have a clue and the ruling class media made sure of that. The education machine also does a wonderful job in mystifying the meaning of socialism.

Socialism, as commonly understood means widespread government ownership of business. This is not socialism as we see it. Socialism is not state or municipal ownership. Nor even ownership by co-operatives. “Socialism” is also used to refer to welfare state policies, and progressive taxes. Not only do these things have little to do with socialism, sadly the same concepts are peddled by both the so-called left just as much as the right. The only difference is that the former says this “socialism” might be good in moderate amounts, while the right sees it as tyranny. In any case, both sides are wrong. Socialism is not a reform, it is a revolution. We are not reformers — we are revolutionists. Let it be clearly understood that by revolution Socialists do not mean violence or bloodshed. We mean by revolutionary socialism the capture of the political powers of the nation by the working class as opposed to the capitalist class. Socialists would regard it a calamity to the cause, as well as to humanity to have a violent upheaval in society. If such should be the case it would be not the result of the teaching of socialism, but rather the result of the refusal of the rulers to accept the socialist democracy. For socialism offers a possible peaceful solution.

Socialism means as our basic tenet explains “From each according to ability, to each to each according to needs. Production has already reach undreamed heights—to satisfy everyone’s needs and there can be plenty of everything. In socialism instead of working because they have to, because they are made to by the threat of poverty and privations, people will work because they want to out of a sense of responsibility to society and because work satisfies a felt need in their own lives. Socialists seek to abolish private property.  There are two kinds of private property. There is property which is personal in nature, consumer’s goods, used for private enjoyment. Then there is the kind of private property which is not personal in nature, property in the means of production. This kind of property is not used for private enjoyment, but to produce the consumer’s goods which are. Socialism does not mean taking away the first kind of private property, e.g. your clothes, your home; it does mean taking away the second kind of private property, e.g. the factory that makes clothes, the building company that constructs houses. socialists want more people to have more personal private property than ever before. It means taking away private property in the means of production from the few so that there will be much more private property in the means of consumption for the many. More personal possessions for use and enjoyment if we want them, not private property for making profits and exploitation. That’s socialism.

Socialism, to make it clearer, is a mode of production that entails certain means and forces of production, in the form of factories, infrastructure, raw materials, tools, and such, and relations of production, which refers to the property relations between the means of production and their owners. Under capitalism, the means of production are mostly in the hands of private individuals who depend on a massive army of people who don’t own any means of production. The latter obtains their subsistence by selling their ability to do labor with the means of production owned by a capitalist. According to the property relations in capitalism, the worker does not own anything he or she produces with the means of production provided by the capitalist. They are entitled only to a wage, which must necessarily be significantly lower than the amount of value the worker creates. In short, capitalism is a system wherein production is socialised, which is to say it is carried out by masses of people, and profit, the surplus value that they create by their work, is privatised, meaning it goes to the private individuals who own the means of production.

Socialism means a full, happy and useful life. It means the opportunity to develop all your faculties and latent talents. It means that, instead of being a mere chattel bought and sold on the labour market, an appendage to a machine, a robot to produce of wealth for others, you will take your place as a human being in a free society of human beings, and a participant in its decision-making committees and councils. Your work in a socialist society will not be dependent on the caprices either of the capitalist market. When things are produced to satisfy human needs, instead of for sale and profit, involuntary redundancy and lay-offs will be an impossibility. The "demand," instead of being limited to what people can buy, will be limited only to what people can use. Nor will unemployment because of labour-saving new technology be possible in socialism. Instead of dismissing workers from jobs, the improved methods and facilities will cut hours from the working day. Full employment and jobs for all under capitalism are only possible when capitalism is preparing for, or engaged, in war. Socialism alone can give jobs for all and open wide the doorway to economic opportunity. Hours of work in socialism will be the minimum necessary to fulfill society's needs. Work is not the end and aim of man's existence; it is the means to an end. We do not live to work; we work to live. Socialism will, therefore, strive in every way to lighten the load of mankind and give the leisure to develop faculties and live a happy, healthful, useful life. By the elimination of capitalist waste and duplication caused by irrational competition, and by opening jobs at useful work to all who are currently deprived of it, we could produce an abundance for all by working four hours a day, three of four or five days a week, and thirty or forty weeks a year. People will be able to take regular sabbatical years. The so-named “gap-year” will be available for all age groups.

Socialism is, to put it in the simplest words, another way of organising society to the present system. It isn’t “redistributing” the wealth, welfare programmes, or “equal shares” for everyone. Socialist production is socialised, and the ownership of the means of production is also socialized. This means the means of production and distribution, the machines, the transport infrastructure, all belong to the people in common. Writing in the 19th century, Marx envisioned some kind of paper certificate to represent the amount of labour performs as a form of access to the common treasury, and unlike money it would not circulate. Obviously in a modern economy this kind of system for accounting of labour credit would be fraught with problems even with the power of computers. Better that we do away with any form of artificial rationing and enjoy free access to the fruits of our collective labours.

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