Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Capitalism: Endless wars and endless famines

Regarding the ancient theory that is repeatedly resurrected that a reform demand becomes revolutionary when the capitalist class cannot grant it, not a year passes without numerous instances showing this to be false. By definition, a reformist demand is one which reforms without abolishing capitalism, and which, therefore, can be granted by the capitalists. Every time the capitalists are faced with a more or less widespread demand for some reform they can try various methods of splitting, side-tracking or breaking the movement. Failing anything else they can always go half-way and thus, rob the movement of a large part of its support. They rarely have to concede the whole of the reform demand, but, of course, could, if need be, even appropriating the name "socialism" in certain instances for their act. Socialism can only be brought about by socialists. This involves the hard plodding work which the impatient and the ambitious cannot bear to undertake. To avoid it they seize upon any flashy apparent substitute which presents itself. The reformism and political bargaining with the capitalists advocated by the “left” are all of them quack remedies of that kind. They lead to corruption, disgust, and general apathy. Socialists must expose and condemn them without cessation. Beware of the smooth talking leaders who seek to sell you their sterile ideas. Workers are capable of building a future which might now seem like a dream. That future has nothing to do with swapping the inhabitants of 10 Downing Street. It is about establishing a society of common ownership, democratic control and production for use—a genuine socialist society.

We look forward to a society where buying and selling have no place, to a truly social world where each contributes such work as they are able and all may take freely from the store of wealth created. But capitalism still has many apologists who assert that a socialist system would not work; often they are pie-eyed over the virtues of the marketplace, where freedom, equality of opportunity and property are supposed to reign supreme. In reality, there is nothing equal about the major transaction that most of us have to endure throughout our lives. On the labour market the capitalist confronts the worker and after an average working lifetime of this “equal” transaction, the boss still owns the factory, the office, the shop and the profit made on the goods; while it is a lucky worker who manages to retain a house, a few sticks of furniture and a car through retirement and up to death. The drive for profits and the capture of markets, which sets people against people, factory against factory and nation against nation, is the force that excludes a majority of the world’s population from the potential abundance of wealth that the modern industrial system is capable of producing. Endless wars and endless famines, with millions of guns and no bread, have been normal someplace in the world throughout this century. Socialists look with horror on this direct effect of the capitalist market and do what they can to make the revolution in consciousness that is needed before a system of free access can be introduced. The myopia of capitalist decision-making impoverishes the full natural and human complexities involved over alternative production processes. By contrast, a socialist society would make its production choices on the basIs of usefulness, desirability and the needs of the population. Productive efficiency in units of direct output can be weighed and ranged alongside usefulness, desirability, needs, beauty and scientific interest. The factors that will govern production in a socialist society are commensurable factors; and it is the similarities between material, aesthetic and scientific needs which will allow socialist society to compare them directly and make sensible choices about alternative production processes, based on overall needs. Socialist society is not a dream, but something for which the development of capitalism has prepared production. Remove the vast unproductive apparatus referred to above and you can see what a flood of labour power and resources would be available for useful production in a socialist society. Socialist freedom means the ability to accommodate all the many and varied styles of living, production systems, special and overall concerns that grab people in their interactions with the social and physical environment. Without the drag of private property and the market an abundant future is secure anyway.

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