Apologists for capitalism declare that socialism destroys individualism. But when they speak of individualism they have in mind the right of freely exploiting the workers. They mean that the anti-social individualism of capitalism will go. With socialism no one will have the right to exploit another; no longer will a profit-hungry employer be able to shut his factory gates and sentence thousands to starvation; no more will it be possible for a little clique of capitalists and their political henchmen to plunge the world into a blood-bath of war. Private property in industry and the right to exploit the workers for social progress will be ended. Yes, such deadly individualism is doomed.
But the socialist revolution will create in its stead a new and better development of the individual. Socialism, by freeing people from economic and political slavery will, for the first time in history, give them an opportunity to fully develop and express their personalities. An individuality growing out of and harmonising with the interests of all. Socialism can provide equality of opportunity, which means a genuine occasion for the people to enjoy life and to develop their latent personalities. Socialism men and women strive for superiority in achievement and respect from their peers but not on the basis of competitive egos. Socialists deny the time-worn accusation that there will be a levelling down of talent and skills. Not socialism, but capitalism, with its exploitation, terrorism, war, superstition, and cultural ignorance, creates a dead level in its poverty and ignorance for the uncounted millions of toilers of field and factory.
Capitalists, as is their wont, seek to justify their destructive type of competition by asserting that it is rooted firmly in human nature. Such appeals to “human nature,” however, must be taken cautiously. By that method of reasoning it would be quite easy to conclude that the rich capitalist who heartlessly casts workers out of his shops penniless and gives no thought as to their future has quite a different “human nature” than the hunter and gatherer who, with a high sense of clan solidarity, before eating the kill, calls loudly in the four directions in case perchance there may be a hungry person nearby. Changed social conditions develop different “human natures.” Thus competition, a ruinous, anti-social thing under capitalism, becomes, under socialism, highly beneficent.
In recent years there has been arguments against technology and machinery with a wide fear expressed that we are going into a regime of such standardisation and mechanisation that life is becoming merely a machine-like process and the people so many robots. This fear is essentially a class fear. They see the growing volume of production, the shrinking markets, the increasing unemployment, the radicalisation of the producing masses, the growing revolutionary struggle, and they tremble at the prospect. The workers should not fear the new machine age of robotics, Artificial Intelligence and automation. Instead we must see in it our emancipation from the drudgery and poverty of the past. In a future socialist society the will not be a dread of ensuing industrial crises and unemployment. Society will control the machine and not let it enslave them as it has done under capitalism. Such conditions can only develop under capitalism where everything is made for profit’s sake. Capitalism naturally develops a hopelessness and despair in every direction; but socialism produces aspirations and inspirations. Inside socialism new technology will be used on the broadest scale possible to produce the necessities of life in the great industries, transport systems and communication services. It would be silly not to take advantage of every labour and time-saving device. We need have no fear that individuals will be turned into robots. Life in socialism will be varied and interesting. Individual will vie with individual, as never before, to create the useful and the beautiful. Locality will compete with locality in the beauty of their buildings and parks. The impress of individuality and originality will be upon everything. The world will become a place well worth living in, and what is the most important, its joys will no longer be the monopoly of a privileged ruling class but the heritage of all.
The socialist revolution is the most profound of all revolutions in history. It initiates changes more rapid and far-reaching than any in the whole experience of mankind. The hundreds of millions of workers and peasants, striking off their age-old chains of slavery, will construct a society of liberty and prosperity and intelligence. Socialism will inaugurate a new era for humanity, the building of a new world. The overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of socialism will bring about the immediate or eventual solution of many great social problems. Some of these originate in capitalism, and others have plagued mankind for scores of centuries. Among them are war, religious superstition, famine, pestilence, crime, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, unemployment, illiteracy, racism and nationalism, the suppression of woman, and every form of slavery and exploitation of one class by another. Only a system of socialism can fully uproot and destroy all these evils.
The objective conditions, in the shape of scientific knowledge and the means of creating material wealth, are already at hand in sufficient measure to do away with these menaces to humanity. But the trouble lies with the subjective factor, the capitalist order of society. Capitalism, based upon human exploitation, stands as the great barrier to social progress. Socialism, by abolishing the capitalist system, puts an end to this subjective difficulty. It releases thereby productive forces strong enough to provide plenty for all and it destroys the whole accompanying capitalist baggage of cultivated ignorance, strife and misery. Socialism frees humanity from the stultifying effects of the present essentially animal struggle for existence and opens up before it new horizons of joys and tasks. The day is not so far distant when our children and their children will look back with horror upon capitalism and marvel how we tolerated it so long.
Socialist society will be the organisation of the economics of the world upon a rational and planned basis, the systematic conservation and increase of the world’s natural resources, the development of a vast concentration upon all the great problems now confronting science, the beautification of the world by a new and richer artistry, the liquidation of congested over-crowded cities and the combination of the joys and conveniences of country and urban life, and the solution of many other great problems and tasks now hardly even imagined.
Capitalism, with its wars, wage slavery, slums, etc., undermines the health and well-being of the human race. Socialism will make good health the property of all. Capitalism has checked the evolution of the human species, if it has not actually brought about a reversal in human progress.
Today, it is undeniable that the capitalist class is now strong. Its champions ridicule the idea of any socialist revolution. They console themselves and take comfort with the thought that “it can never happen” and they scorn the at present weak socialist movements. But one thing is certain capitalism is part and parcel of the world economic system is subject to all its basic weaknesses and contradictions which will lead to its destruction. Capitalism, it is true, makes a strong and stubborn resistance. The advance of the revolution is difficult, its pace is slow, and it varies from country to country, but its direction is sure and its movement irresistible.
Nevertheless, the workers of the world are organising to put a final end to the long, long ages of ignorance and slavery, of which capitalist exploitation is the last stage, and to begin building a prosperous and rational society.