Thursday, December 06, 2018

Socialism - An Association of Equals

What is socialism? If we are socialists, what is it that we are trying to achieve? This question, long a subject of debate, is receiving increased attention today because of the changes taking place in the United States where “Democratic Socialists” are apparently losing their stigma and are on the rise and some are rethinking their conceptions of socialism. Some say socialism is simply public ownership of the means of production by the government, and other criteria are irrelevant. These advocates for what was once described as “state socialism” say the government is to defend working people’s rights to a decent standard of living and a life free from exploitation, that the “socialist” government would end oppression and working people will rule society in their own interests. The Socialist Party says “Not so.” The first question to be put is how far that program really breaks with the existing capitalist order of society. The Socialist Party understands socialism means getting rid of money and markets entirely as a necessary condition for getting rid of capitalism. We imagine a world without money and reject all programmes that propose to transcend capitalism but retain money and markets as supposedly efficient methods of allocating resources in a new and better society.

The new society will be based not on exchange but on natural self-sustaining economy, there will not be the market, buying and selling, but consciously and systematically organised distribution. It will be different from the old primitive communism, in that it will embrace not a large or a small community, but the whole of society, the whole of humanity. The Socialist Party envisages that by way of change, we will be a community of free individuals, carrying on our work with the means of production in common, in which the labour power of all the different individuals is consciously applied as the combined labour power of the community.  The total product of our community is a social product. One portion serves as fresh means of production and remains social, another portion is consumed by the members as means of subsistence. Socialism is when freely-associated people decide what they want to do during their working hours (within the constraints of what is possible) and how they will organise themselves to do it.  we will take over workplaces and neighborhoods and create a society based on freely associated labour. That means that at that time we will decide through discussions, debates, and perhaps struggles how we will organise our working time and what products we will produce how.

The Socialist Party asks why so many movements have stopped short of challenging capitalism itself, in favour of instead advocating relatively restricted social reforms and self-limiting revolutions? We face a world in which we have been brought up to obey those with money and power, and where it seems natural to be bossed around while doing labour that others have defined as necessary for profits. We face a world of inequality in where large proportions of people think that some men should be more privileged than others. The Socialist Party thinks that most of the problems of the world can be solved, but it will be the working people of the world who will have to develop ways to make decisions, ways to work together, and ways to protect ourselves. If successful, we will create a world of freely associated labour where we decide what use-values need to be produced, make them available to those who need or want them, and do this in an environmentally sustainable way in which we find ways to enjoy our lives and fulfill our potentials through actions that are sociable and helpful to ourselves and others as well.

The victory of socialism is desirable because only socialism can put an end to the exploitation of man by man and of women by men. Because only socialism can put an end to the struggle for the re-division of the world, for national possessions, which takes place between the different continents, nations, and races. Only socialism can put an end to war and poverty and the innumerable injustices which are an everyday feature of our lives. There is no progress possible to civilisation save in the direction of socialism. Socialism means the freeing of the individual from the fetters which weigh upon him or her under the capitalist system. And this is not to be understood as meaning that while the old fetters are removed new ones will be shackled. Foremost among the fallacies is that socialism implies coercion. On the contrary, the primary aim of the industrial and political organisation supposed by socialism is the guaranteeing of the freedom of the individual.

The task of the Socialist Party business is the making of socialists, convincing fellow-workers that socialism is beneficial for them and is possible. When we have enough people of that way of thinking, they will find out what action is necessary for putting their principles in practice. Until we have that mass of opinion, action for a general change that will benefit the whole people is impossible. Inequality did not grow out of greed; a society based on inequality gave birth to greed. In all capitalist countries the object of production is not to provide employment to people, nor bring comfort to their life with better technology, but to lower the cost of production and thereby earn maximum profit for the capitalists. Simply because in all capitalist countries production is run from this motive the workers must understand that such a situation would not have arisen had production been run with the object of fulfilling the people's necessities and not for earning maximum profit by the capitalists. So the use of machines — to be more precise, use of science and technology — must be freed from capitalist exploitation,  from the motive of earning maximum profit or, in other words, from the clutches of the capitalist class. If we, the workers, can achieve this, then automation and robotics will bring comfort and happiness to our lives and with the aid of new technology we can produce more with much less effort and in less time. We will get more comfort, greater satisfaction and more happiness from the work. So technological progress is not our enemy. Our enemy is capitalism, which is at the root of all the problems of society.

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