Socialism is the social ownership of all natural resources and the application of all productive forces in co-operation for the satisfaction of all material social needs. It, therefore, involves not merely co-operation between individuals but also co-operation between peoples of all lands. Socialism is a system of universal co-operation for production for use. All that science, technology and art is to be utilised, not for the few, but for the benefit of mankind as a whole. Socialism is about ending all social oppression and dissolving the hostile classes into a community of free and equal producers striving not for sectional interests, but for the common good, based on the common ownership of the means of production and distribution. It will be a socialist commonwealth, liberating the individual from all economic, political and social oppression, providing real freedom for the full and harmonious development of each person.
The total transformation of social relations will mean:
1. The abolition of the private ownership of the means of production.
2. Elimination of competition and production for exchange value and its replacement by democratic planning and production for use.
3. Working people’s management of the economy and society.
4. Elimination of the power of the old classes and the end of classes
5. The elimination of differences between manual and mental labour, town and country.
6. The abolition of wage labour.
7. The disappearance of the state.
8. Full socialist development of the productive forces in the context of world socialism
9. From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.
Socialist production is guided not by blind market processes but by decisions consciously and democratically made in the interests of the community as a whole. ‘Exchange’ is replaced by distribution. Production in socialism will be ‘for use not for profit’ and that its purpose will be to ‘meet human needs’. Although individuals will decide for themselves what goods they need, there will be no absolute right for production is a social act and communities will collectively choose what to manufacture. The needs of the community are to be determined socially and not just by aggregating the expressed needs of individuals. Having added that caveat, people will have free access to distribution centres where all desired goods are available in abundance. The advance of automation and robotics has made it technically possible to generate such abundance with a minimum of human labour. Elimination of the waste inherent in the money system will also play its part.
Socialism will a society of abundance but that is not to say that by the time that socialism is established the human race may well be embroiled in severe climatic, environmental and social crises so top priority will have to be given to the tasks of coping with and gradually overcoming these crises. Enormous efforts will be required to halt and reverse global heating, care for masses of environmental and other refugees, and improve the living conditions of the world’s slum dwellers.
By definition socialism is a society of free people. They cannot be compelled to do what they do not want to do, either by brute force or (as in capitalism) by threats to their livelihood. We have to assume that they will be sufficiently responsible and self-disciplined voluntarily to do whatever may be required to implement a democratically made decision, even if they disagree with that decision – unless, arguably, they have good reason to regard the decision as dangerously incompetent (if, say, a council has approved an unsafe design for a nuclear reactor).