Monday, April 18, 2016

Removing the halo of capitalism

Nowhere in Marx’s writings is there to be found a detailed account of the new social system which was to follow capitalism. Marx wrote no “Utopia”. But from the general movement of past societies, Marx was able to outline the features of the new society and the way in which it would develop. Marx saw socialism as ownership of the means of production by society as a whole. Marx understood socialism when the means of production were owned by the people and therefore there is no longer any exploitation of man by man. In a socialist society, where production is not for profit but for use, a plan of production is possible. Where profit is the motive force, there can be only anarchy in production. In such a world socialist system the further advance that humanity could make defies the imagination. With all economic life connected by a world plan coordinating the plans of each region and district, with scientific discoveries and technical inventions shared out, with the information exchanged, mankind would indeed take giant’s strides forward.

Children learn to use their hands as well as their brains. Everyone becomes an “intellectual,” while intellectuals no longer separate themselves off from physical work. They will be people with an all-round development, an all-round training, people who will be able to do everything. The self-seeking, individualist outlook bred by capitalism will have been replaced by a really social outlook, a sense of responsibility to society. Even within capitalist society there is what is known as “solidarity” among the workers – the sense of a common interest, a common responsibility. This is not an idea which someone has thought of and put into the heads of workers: it is an idea which arises out of the material conditions of working-class life, the fact that they get their living in the same way, working alongside each other. The typical grasping individualist, on the other hand, the man with no sense of social or collective responsibility, is the capitalist surrounded by competitors, all struggling to survive by killing each other. Women are no longer looked on as inferior or unable to play their part in every sphere of the life of society. There is no racism in a socialist society; no one is treated as superior or inferior because of his or her colour or nationality. Democracy is not limited to voting for a representative in parliament every four or five years. In every factory, in every block of flats, in every aspect of life, men and women are shaping their own lives and the destiny of their country. More and more people are drawn into some sphere of public life, given responsibility for helping themselves and others. This is a much fuller, more real democracy than exists anywhere else. The difference between the town and the countryside is broken down.

Of course, the ideas of the dominant class tend to spread among the workers, especially among those who are picked out by the employers for special advancement of any kind. But the fundamental basis for the outlook of any class (as distinct from individuals) is the material conditions of life, the way it gets its living. Hence, it follows that the outlook of people can be changed by changing their material conditions. People no longer need to be convinced that the social principle is right. It is not a question of an abstract moral duty having to establish itself over the instinctive desires of “human nature;” human nature itself is transformed by practice, by custom. Nevertheless, socialists have capably demonstrated how socialism could end poverty, unemployment and war by eliminating private ownership of the means of producing the things of life, national and international competition, and the struggle for existence by the overwhelming majority of the population in all countries. They have exposed of the evils of capitalist society, its murderous exploitation of the workers, its utter hypocrisy in human relations, and the most evident feature of its class character: the impoverishment of the masses and the enrichment of a small class of capitalists. Paid apologists for Big Business, those academic  professors, economists and intellectuals of every variety, have “explained” why capitalism is a wonderful society and socialism a mere utopia. Hired journalists and media commentators argue that capitalism was actually paving the way to the kind of life the socialists wanted, just and equal. Many proclaimed a new capitalism, no mass unemployment, workers owning automobiles and their own homes. But the bubble burst and the whole rotten system, built on unsound foundations tumbled down. It was quickly revealed that the promise of prosperity was a fraud; that the capitalist became ever more enriched but that the working class, for all its employment, came out of it worse off than ever.

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