Sunday, June 06, 2021

To-Day's Society


The basis of present society is the ownership of the means of living by one class. This compels the other class that makes up society to sell its only possession—labour-power—in order to live. The labour-power commodity is like all other commodities in that it is bought and sold upon the market, its value determined by the cost of production around which the haggling of the market allows its price to fluctuate. It is unlike all other commodities in that it is the commodity of a particular slave class sold to a particular dominant class; and further in that the standard of living, a historical element, enters into the question of its cost of production. It is these two distinctions that make the matter a class conflict different from the ordinary matter of the competitive buying and selling of commodities. The class struggle, therefore, presents two aspects. On the one side the struggle on the part of the workers to sell labour-power under the best conditions—the industrial struggle for wages and hours of labour; on the other side the struggle for the overthrow of the wages system—the political struggle for socialism. The class-unconscious worker takes part in the former, but only the class-conscious in the latter. The class struggle is, consequently, both industrial and political—the latter is its ultimate, its revolutionary form.

The term "socialism" has been abused and distorted by countless opportunists who have sought to run capitalism.  The name of socialism has been dragged through the mud of capitalist politics. Socialism has come to be associated with a way of running capitalism and an unappealing way at that. If the bosses had to think of a method of putting the workers off socialism they could not have done much better than the fake “socialist leaders have done. Yet still, socialism stands as the only practical alternative to this system of minority ownership and control and production for sale and profit. Instead of producing goods and services for sale and profit and denying people access to what can be produced if they have no money with which to buy it, socialism will produce solely for use. There will be free access to the common store of social wealth. No longer will men and women be employed (exploited, to be more precise) by bosses for wages: instead people in a socialist society will work according to their abilities and take according to their needs. Indeed, we are talking here about a fundamentally different way of running our society and consequently a revolution in the way we live. It is a revolution long overdue, for who but a boss, or a wage-slave who has been conditioned to poverty and fear, can be contented as we are living now? The capitalists can only continue with this insane system as long as the workers let them. Without us they are nothing. When enough men and women who do not own the world - the vast majority of us — decide consciously that the way we live now is neither inevitable nor desirable, then socialism will be established. 

To establish socialism a social revolution is necessary. Violence is not only not necessary, but, under favourable conditions, will not occur in such a revolution. Even if violence did appear it would be due to the folly of the opponents of socialism—the capitalists and their allies—and not by the wish of the socialists. The role of The Socialist Party is to "make socialists" by discussing and acting on ideas. The ruling class continues to propagate their message that there is no alternative to capitalism.

The alternative does exist — it is socialism. 

In the world today we have the resources, the technology, the skills and the knowledge to satisfy everyone's needs — in food, clothing. shelter and everything else several times over; no informed person would deny it. But we cannot fully use those assets in a society where the fundamental aim of production is profit. We can only use them in a society where the fundamental aim of production is human needs.

This means establishing a society without money — where we don't use bits of metal and pieces of paper to needlessly ration ourselves, and don't all walk around with a cash register in our heads.

This means a society without wages — where we aren't forced to work for an employer just to get by, but where we can choose the work we want to do for our own satisfaction and for the benefit of the community as a whole.

This means a society without frontiers and nations — where the world's resources and knowledge are used rationally and not in the crazy, haphazard way determined by "market forces" or governments, causing millions to die of starvation or go short while food and other essentials are stockpiled in huge quantities.

This means a society without wars or the threat of wars — because wars in the modern world are caused by economic and trade rivalries between nations, and in a world that is united there won't be such rivalries to fight over.

A lot of people will say that this sounds nice but it's impossible because human beings are naturally lazy, greedy and aggressive, and "you can't change human nature". We'd reply to this that human beings can certainly be lazy, greedy and aggressive. But that they can also be (and they usually are in their day-to-day relations) co-operative, generous and caring. They are what their situation makes them. We are not, for example, usually greedy or aggressive about the thing that is most essential above all else to our survival — water. We don't fight for it, refuse a glass of it to a thirsty stranger, or hoard it in our baths or in buckets under our beds. Nor do we needlessly waste it. Why not? Because we know that every time we turn on the tap. it's there. And if we organise society — and we can do it easily — so that everything we need to live comfortably is there when we turn on the tap (in other words we have free access to all goods and services), then we are more likely, in these circumstances, to behave in a generous and co-operative way. We will also be providing for ourselves the secure material framework within which we can attend to all the inner, non-material needs we may have.

No comments: