Wednesday, June 03, 2020

The Future Cooperative Commonwealth

Socialism is a society where the wages system, under which labour has been reduced to a commodity is to be supplanted by the cooperative system under which all may engage in useful occupation and work together in harmonious cooperation for the emancipation of labour, the uplifting of humanity, and the advancement of our civilisation. In other words, socialism is the fraternal commonwealth. By uniting at the ballot box, political control of the state can be secured to permit the cooperative commonwealth to be established and workers emancipated from wage slavery. We shall unite all our energies to end the present capitalist system and establish the cooperative commonwealth. Under the former,  the world has been brought to the verge of ruin, and humanity has been degraded beyond the power of language to describe. The horror of our social life is sickening and shocking. The time has come for social regeneration, and this is only possible through a new and worldwide change of system, a type of society compared with which the present would appear like cannibalism.

The crisis of capitalism on a world scale gives rise to a growing radicalisation amongst all parts of the population. It has always clear to Marxists, who understand that in the present epoch of social revolution a political party not based upon revolutionary theory cannot withstand the test of events. Based on the common ownership of the means of production and distribution all the accumulated treasures in machines and technical appliances created by the genius of mankind, all that science and art had given to humanity over generations is to be utilised, not for the few, but for the benefit of mankind as a whole, ending all social oppression by dissolving the hostile classes into a community of free and equal producers striving not for sectional interests, but for the common good. The socialist commonwealth liberates the individual from all economic, political and social oppression, providing the basis, for real liberty and for the full and harmonious development of the personality, giving full scope for the growth of the creative faculties of the mind.

Under capitalism, with its wage slavery, the worker and his family are nominally free; but, as we have seen, the land, the tools and all the product of his labour belong to the employing class. The workers are at liberty to change their individual masters, if they can, that is all. There is a continuous class war between wage slaves and the capitalist class, with its parasites. So long as wages are paid by one class to another class, so long will men and women remain slaves to the employing class. “Free and independent workers sell their labour power, which is the only commodity they possess, to the capitalists who own or control all the means of producing wealth, including the tools, raw material, land and money. Under the capitalist mode  of production the workers are controlled by their machines and technology, instead of being in control of them. Under the capitalist system of production for exchange the producers themselves have no control over their own products. Commodities, social goods, are produced, not directly for social purposes, but in order to create a profit for the capitalists. Production for profit and exchange by wage labour assumes working people are divorced from the land and possess no property of their own. Rent, profit and interest are all provided by the workers. They are the component parts of the labour value embodied in saleable commodities by the labour power of the workers, over and above the actual wages paid to the toiler, and the cost of raw materials, incidental materials, etc., needed by the capitalist for the conduct of his business. The wages paid by the employers to their hands represent the customary standard of life of the workers employed. These wages are, on the average, returned in saleable values to the capitalist in a portion of the working day, or week, for which the worker has sold his labour power to the capitalist. The goods produced during the rest of the time the wage-earner works for the capitalist are the result of this extra and unpaid labour, furnished by the toiler to the capitalist. It is the modern industrial expression of the corvée, enforced, not by the whip, but by pecuniary necessity and individual hunger. This is the surplus value, out of which all the parasite classes who do not directly produce are paid their share. Shareholders in capitalist companies rarely or never render any service to the company, or the community, as shareholders. In the vast majority of cases they have never visited the enterprises from which they draw their dividends.

Money disguises the whole process of the robbery of labour, as well as the truth about the creation of surplus value at home, and the booty and tributes, payments from abroad. Wage-earners are  thrown out of employment, not because they are clamouring for impossible wages, still less because they are unwilling to work, but because the employing class itself cannot produce at a loss, and therefore shuts down its factories or only runs them on short time. Wages paid in money seem to workers to come to them from above, instead of being only the value of a portion of the goods they themselves produce, paid to them in the form of money.

With political action, for which our forbears fought so stoutly, and for which at last we have secured the effective means, there is far less danger of armed conflict. Every year that passes, as events move to-day, tells more and more decisively in favour of the economic and social freedom of the workers.

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