“The anarchy of the market produces the tyranny of the factory.” – Marx
“Market socialists” raise objections to the Socialist Party call for free access. Their argument rests on some dubious assumptions.
First, that left to themselves human beings will produce goods that other human beings do not need.
Second, that human beings have and always will resist producing things efficiently and well in the absence of outside pressures.
Thirdly, that because they are innately lazy, human beings will not work unless compelled to.
Finally, they say that in an economy without a market there would be no price system and therefore no way to compare the production costs of different things. The increased waste would arise, they claim. The prices which people are prepared to pay for goods act as signals which tell individual firms what to produce and what not to produce.
The market is not the answer. There is only one way to escape for workers from the detrimental effects of capitalism and that is for the economy to be run by the immediate producers themselves. Once in control of the process of production they would have no interest in wasting effort on producing goods that no one wants, on turning out goods of low quality, or resisting innovations that would make their work easier. Think about it. Even in existing capitalist society when people produce for their own immediate consumption, you rarely find people cooking themselves meals when they are not hungry, deliberately spoiling the food or shunning the use of a food-processor to lighten the work. It would relatively easy for people in socialism particularly with all the computer potential at our finger-tips to get together so as to work out what and how much we should produce and in what ways we can use less labour and resources– and to do so without the devastation of lives that occurs when this happens at present in today’s capitalist economy. The price mechanism does not let firms know what to produce in advance any more than the free associated producers are able to foresee all needs and all links in the production process. But they would be quite capable of working out what their main needs are likely to be, if only because they can calculate what is needed in the same way that capitalism does – by seeing what was needed in the past – and then adjust it according to their own democratically expressed preference. Supply can be made to correspond to demand
The view that socialism is equivalent to single-party with all industry nationalised and is the Marxist idea of the socialisation of production is widespread within the workers’ movement and it is a false idea. That such a flawed conception of socialism should continue, despite all the experiences of the working class, is witness to the power of misinformation about socialism and Marx. It is the result of the 57 varieties of reformism which passes for socialism. The overthrow of capitalism demands the overthrow of its State. A victorious working class would not institute a new state but rather use its machinery so as to be able to realise its real goal, the appropriation of the means of production and their irrevocable transformation into social means of production under the control of the association of free and equal producers. Although assuming functions previously associated with those of the state, it does is not become a new state, but merely a means to the elimination of all suppressive measures through the ending of class relations. There is no room for a “socialist state” in socialism, even though there will be a certain need for a central coordination of the socialised economy, which, however, is itself a part of the organisation of associated producers and not an independent entity set apart and against them. Workers taking over the system of production would use their power to eliminate waste.
Socialism is a system of planning and management in which the workers allocate resources and democratically determine priorities themselves. Such a system demands that the people themselves articulate their needs as producers, consumers and citizens, in other words, that they become the masters of their conditions of work and life, that they progressively liberate themselves from despotism and diktat of the market and its tyranny of the wallet. Socialism will be a democracy of various diverse workers and community councils. The rule of bureaucracy or technocracy is irreconcilable with the conscious control and direction, through planned democratic association of self-managing producers.
Socialism is the exercise of power by the associated producers. Worker self-management, which is not exclusively or mainly limited to enterprise level is articulated by general assemblies, workers’ councils, and democratically elected local, regional, global congresses of workers’ councils in which the associated producers freely plan production on the basis of various plan alternatives, determine priorities in the satisfaction of needs, and decide the extent of postponed consumption (“socialist accumulation”). There will be a collaboration and coordination with communities formed in federated communes or civic polis. A democracy of workers’ councils also means the beginning of the “withering away of the state”, by handing over more and more spheres of administration to direct democracy -i.e. the immediate self-management of those concerned.
Socialism is the end of commodity production, of money, of classes, and of the state, i.e. the construction of a classless society. Socialism is an entirely new social system resting upon the abolition of exploitation. Socialist production permits cooperative rather than competitive production to flourish. Socialism pre-supposes a social organisation based on co-operation and solidarity for the common good, i.e. self-managing socialism where humanity becomes the masters of its society and there is no danger of it becoming enslaved by new technology and automation. If we don’t achieve socialism then the threats are innumerable: annihilation by war; suffocating in the poisoned air; ecological destruction; massive poverty; widespread famine; and decline of personal liberties; and now as speculated by some futurologists, possible enslavement by robots. What a terrifying prospect we and our children and grand-children may have before us. The tyranny of profits and capital accumulation reshapes our way of thinking yet it is not the fault of science but how it is being used against us.