Monday, April 20, 2020

Changing the World

In a society based upon common ownership wealth would be produced solely for use. All members of society would be occupied in producing things to satisfy their needs. This is possible with the present industrial machinery. All that is required is that the workers realise this and take steps to bring it about.

Apologists for capitalism maintain that even if the wealth the workers produce was divided equally among all members of the population, the increase in the average worker's income would be insignificant. But this isn't the socialist's argument. A socialist recognises the potential productive capacity of mankind with modern machinery and realises how production is misused in present society. A socialist takes into consideration the waste that goes on under capitalism. In a system based on private ownership where goods are produced for sale a vast number of workers are engaged in all the multiple tasks which arise from the sale of commodities and the realisation of the profits contained in them. The waste of productive effort in the cheap shoddy goods the majority of the community must buy.

To-day a minority of the population, the capitalist class, own the means and instruments for producing wealth. It necessarily follows that the vast majority of the population, the working class, must sell their labour power to this minority. In return they receive barely enough to keep them at the customary standard of living. If they were to receive more than was sufficient to keep them they would attempt to free themselves from that economic enslavement. The working class then must produce wealth for the capitalist class and receive in return just sufficient to bring them back to the factory to produce more wealth for their masters. The tremendous productive capacity of man's labour power applied to modern industrial equipment together with the working class receiving only the necessities of life results in the great difference in income that exists between most members of capitalist class and most workers.

The growth of air, soil and water pollution, the destruction of forests, the greenhouse effect, all are setting up a catastrophic scenario where the very survival of humanity is at stake. Environmentalists are mistaken if they think they can ignore capitalism. The logic of the capitalist market and short-sighted profit is doomed to fail as it is is inherently antithetical to ecological rationality.

We can start projecting a vision beyond capitalism, imagining a reality much like our own, but without the corrosive and toxic effects of capitalism. The conditions around this world have deteriorated so much, going back decades. People are desperate to figure out why things are breaking down and how we can build a new world. The concept of socialism is the production of use values, of goods necessary to satisfy human needs. The purpose of technical progress for Marx is not the endless production of goods, but the cutting of working hours and the lengthening of free time. Socialism is not state control of the economy. It involves planning, but not the central planning of an command economy from above. Socialism aims at winning a decent life for ordinary people. Socialism involves bringing production under democratic control. The emancipation of humanity has to be total and global. The overthrow of capitalism, of private property, commodity production, and wage labour, is a necessary precondition for human emancipation and the birth of a really class-free society, which roots out all forms of social inequality.

Socialism is merely a possibility, nothing more. There is no automatic socialist future, no guaranteed progress and no “final crisis of capitalism” leading by itself to the proletarian utopia: the choice between socialism and barbarism is still open, and its outcome depends on each one of us. But socialism happens to be the only possible alternative to a collapse of human civilisation if not even the disappearance of humanity. An association of intelligent individuals has the social and economic power to take the fate of society out of the hands of Big Business and to reshape that society on the basis of world-wide massive solidarity and co-operation between the producers. We call upon our fellow-workers to devote all one’s power and energy to helping the working people to fulfil that potential.

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