Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Socialism is not the philosophy of poverty


Socialism is the philosophy of abundance. 

Socialism presupposes the abundant availability of material goods to ensure full satisfaction of human needs. The material and technical resources for such a society, unquestionably exist in the world today. Everybody could have a comfortable home, ample food, decent education, opportunities for recreation and security against accident, sickness, and old age; and the sense of independence and self-respect that goes with these things. What we actually have, however, is mass deprivation and widespread poverty. This arises from the nature of the economic system – capitalism. 

Socialism shall satisfy peoples’ needs according to their desires and what is available. Everyone will be able to have what he or she reasonably desires in food, in accommodation, cultural and educational facilities. The abundant production now possible, and which new technology will constantly improve, will remove any need for rationing or limiting of consumption. Every individual will be secure from privation and anxiety.

There will be no class distinctions. There will be neither rich nor poor. There will be neither masters nor servants, all being in a position of economic equality — no individual will be able to become the employer of another.

Money will no longer exist, and none will desire to hoard commodities not in use, since a fresh supply may be obtained at will. There will be no selling, because there will be no buyers, since everyone will be able to obtain everything at will, without payment. The possession of private property, beyond that possessions for personal use, will disappear.

The main characteristics of the present capitalist system is valuable resources spent in the production and distribution of luxury goods, gadgets, waste, planned obsolescence, military equipment – in short, in what economists and sociologists call “unproductive” goods and services. Capitalism produces a business model that is rapacious. Companies pursue profit and have no choice but to inflict damage on wider society, or the planet, and then cloak their deeply anti-social actions. When externalities are particularly onerous or harmful, as they invariably are in one way or another, it becomes necessary for a company to obscure the connection between cause and effect, between its accumulation of profit and the resulting accumulation of damage caused to a community, a distant country or the natural world – or all three. Corporations that inflict the biggest and worst externalities invest a great deal of time and money in aggressively managing public perceptions. They achieve this through a combination of public relations, advertising, media control, political lobbying and the capture of regulatory institutions. Much of the business of business is deception, either making the externalised harm invisible or gaining the public’s resigned acceptance that the harm is inevitable.

Externalities” is a piece of economic jargon and it is also the foundation stone on which the current economic system has been built. In economics, “externalities” are usually defined indifferently as the effects of a commercial or industrial process on a third party that are not costed into that process. Here is a familiar example. For decades, cigarette manufacturers made enormous profits by concealing scientific evidence that over time their product could prove lethal to customers. The firms profited by externalising the costs associated with cigarettes – of death and disease – on to those buying their cigarettes and wider society. The externalised cost was paid – is still paid – by the customers themselves, by grieving families, by local and national health services, and by the taxpayer. Had the firms been required to pick up these various costs, it would have proved entirely unprofitable to manufacture cigarettes.


Externalities are not incidental to the way capitalist economies run but are integral to them. After all, it is a legal obligation on private companies to maximise profits for their shareholders – in addition, of course, to the personal incentive bosses have to enrich themselves, and each company’s need to avoid making themselves vulnerable to more profitable and predatory competitors in the marketplace. Businesses are therefore motivated to off-load as many costs as possible on to others. Externalities mean someone other than the company itself pays the true cost behind its profits, either because those others are too weak or ignorant to fight back or because the bill comes due further down the line. 


To secure the abundant production necessary to socialism and to cope with the ever-growing complexity of modern life and requirements, large-scale production and co-operative effort is necessary. To maintain the population in comfort and with reasonable leisure society cannot abandon all the productive factories and return to a pre-capitalist rural idyll. Socialism necessitates the working-together of large numbers of people supplying their products to others and being supplied in turn, so some sort of organisation of work and of distribution becomes inevitable. The work itself cannot be carried on without organisation. In each industry, the workers concerned in the work must form and control the organisation. The various industries are interlocked. Co-ordination and co-operation for the common good is necessary. Since reliance on reciprocity and mutual aid renders organisation necessary, the best responsive form of organisation must be chosen.

This is your choice – capitalism which means corruption and chaos or world socialism which means a higher level of civilisation and culture. The Socialist Party is intent upon to help the world towards liberty, justice and an abundant life for all. 

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