Sunday, July 19, 2020

Reset the System

Engels denied nationalisation equalled socialism, and if it was then the German dictator Otto von Bismarck was a ‘socialist.’ There was nothing socialist about such state ownership. The Socialist Party counter-pose genuine social ownership to state-capitalism. The basis of socialist society must be the common ownership of the means of production. The machinery in factories, the transportation networks, the mines, all the communications , the land and farms must all be at the disposal of society. All these means of production must be under the control of society as a whole, and not as at present under the control of individual capitalists or capitalist corporations. What do we mean by 'society as a whole'? We mean that ownership and control is not the privilege of a class but of all the persons who make up society. In these circumstances society will be transformed into a huge working organization for cooperative production. Global production will be organised. No longer will one enterprise compete with another but will operate as one vast people's workshop. The communist method of production presupposes in addition that production is not for the market, but for use. With socialism, it is no longer the individual manufacturer or the individual peasant who produces; the work of production is effected by the gigantic cooperative as a whole. In consequence of this change, we no longer have commodities, but only productsThese products are not exchanged one for another; they are neither bought nor sold. They are simply stored in the communal warehouses, and are subsequently delivered to those who need them. The essence of socialism lies in this, that the organisation shall be a cooperative organisation of all the members of society, that puts an end to exploitation, that abolishes the division of society into classes. In such conditions, money will no longer be required.  A person will take from the communal storehouse precisely as much as he needs, no more. No one will have any interest in taking more than he wants in order to sell the surplus to others, since all these others can satisfy their needs whenever they please. Money will then have no value.  Products will simply be supplied according to the needs of the people, for there will be an abundance of everything. 

 Capitalism is all about a small group of capitalists who controls everything; production has been organised, so that capitalists extract surplus value from the workers, who have been practically reduced to slavery. Here we have the exploitation of one class by another. Here there is a joint ownership of the means of production, but it is joint ownership by one class, an exploiting class. This is something very different from socialism, although it is characterized by the social nature of the organisation of production. Such an organisation of society would reduce one of the fundamental contradictions, the anarchy of production. But it would have strengthened the other fundamental contradication of capitalism, the division of society into two warring halves; the class war would be intensified. Such a society would be organised along one line only; on another line, that of class structure, it would still be rent asunder. Socialist society does not merely organize production; in addition, it frees people from oppression by others by creating the cooperative character of socialist production in every detail of organisation. With socialism, for example, there will not be elected delegates to manage factories, nor will there be persons who do one and the same kind of work throughout their lives. Under capitalism, if a man is a bootmaker, he spends his whole life in making boots; if she is a pastry-cook, she spends all her life baking cakes. Nothing of this sort happens in communist society. In socialism people receive a many-sided culture, and find themselves at home in various branches of production.

If in a socialist society there will be no classes this implies there will likewise be no State. The State is a class organization of the rulers. The State is always directed by one class against the other. A capitalist State is directed against the proletariat, whereas a workers State is directed against the bourgeoisie. In socialism there are neither landlords, nor capitalists, nor wage workers; there are simply people - comrades. If there are no classes, then there is no class war, and there are no class organisations. Consequently the State has ceased to exist. Since there is no class war, the State has become superfluous. There is no one to be held in restraint, and there is no one to impose restraint.

Who is going to work out the plans for social production? Who will distribute labour power?  How, they ask, can socialism be run without any directionIt is not difficult to answer these questions. It will be entrusted to various kinds of administrative bodies and we can suggest such United Nations departments such as FAO, ILO, and WHO. The State, therefore, has ceased to exist. There are no groups and there is no class standing above all other classes. The State will die out.

With socialism there will be the liberation of the vast quantity of human energy which is now absorbed in the class struggle. Just think how great is the waste of nervous energy, strength, and labour - upon the political struggle, upon strikes, revolts and their suppression, trials in the law-courts, police activities, the State authority, upon the daily effort of the two hostile classes. The class war now swallows up vast quantities of energy and material means. In the new system this energy will be liberated; people will no longer struggle one with another. The liberated energy will be devoted to the work of production.

Secondly, the energy and the material means which now are destroyed or wasted in competition, crises, and wars, will all be saved. If we consider how much is squandered upon wars alone, we shall realise that this amounts to an enormous quantity. How much, again, is lost to society through the struggle of sellers one with another, of buyers one with another, and of sellers with buyers. How much futile destruction results from commercial crises. How much needless outlay results from the disorganization and confusion that prevail in production. All these energies, which now run to waste, will be saved in socialist society.

The organisation of industry on a purposeful plan will not merely save us from needless waste, in so far as large scale production is always more economical. In addition, it will be possible to improve production from the technical side, for work will be conducted in very large factories and with the aid of perfected machinery. Under capitalism, there are definite limits to the introduction of new machinery. The capitalist only introduces new machinery when he cannot procure a sufficiency of cheap labour. If he can hire an abundance of cheap labour, the capitalist will never install new machinery, since he can secure ample profit without this trouble. The capitalist finds machinery requisite only when it reduces his expenses for highly paid labour. Under capitalism, however, labour is usually cheap. The bad conditions that prevail among the working class become a hindrance to the improvement of manufacturing technique. This causal sequence is peculiarly obvious in agriculture. Here labour power has always been cheap, and for that reason, the introduction of machinery in agricultural work has been extremely slow. In communist society, our concern will not be for profit but for the workers. There every technical advance will be immediately adopted. The chains which capitalism imposed will no longer exist. Technical advances will continue to take place inside socialism, for all will now enjoy a good education, and those who under capitalism perished from want - mentally gifted workers, for instance - will be able to turn their capacities to full account. There will be no place for the parasites who do nothing and who live at others' cost. 

Socialism will signify an enormous development of productive forces. As a result, no worker in socialism will have to do as much work as of old. The working day will grow continually shorter, and people will be to an increasing extent freed from the chains imposed on them by nature. As soon as man is enabled to spend less time upon feeding and clothing himself, he will be able to devote more time to the work of mental development. Human culture will climb to heights never attained before. It will no longer be a class culture, but will become a genuinely human culture. Concurrently with the disappearance of man's tyranny over man, the tyranny of nature over man will likewise vanish. Men and women will for the first time be able to lead a life worthy of thinking beings instead of a life worthy of brute beasts.

The critics of the socialist idea have always described it as a process of sharing things out equally. They declared that the communists wanted to confiscate everything and to divide everything up; to parcel out the land, to divide up the other means of production, and to share out also all the articles of consumption. Nothing could be more absurd than this notion. Above all, such a general division is impossible. We could share out land and money, but could not share out transport systems, machinery and various other things of the sort. Furthermore, such a division, as far as practicable, would not merely do no good to anyone, but would be a backward step for mankind. It would create a vast number of petty proprietors. But we have already seen that out of petty proprietorship and the competition among petty proprietors there issues large-scale proprietorship. Thus even if it were possible to realize such an equal division, the same old cycle would be reproduced. It is why socialists are not swayed by the proponents of co-ops. Socialism is a huge cooperative commonwealth.

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