Monday, January 31, 2022


 Large-scale sanitation in the developed world, vaccines, and even the NHS itself, must be seen as gains for the working class in some aspects. The whole process of the foundation of the NHS was a contradictory one, serving the interests of capital and, as a by-product, that of the workers. The strong sympathy that most workers in Britain have for the National Health Service is after all support for free access, "to each according to needs", for the idea that healthcare is freely available to all regardless of wealth. Some health and welfare services are now available to some people free at the point of delivery or consumption. In socialism, the principle of free access according to reasonable needs will be universally applied. Yet in socialism, there won't be such a widespread demand for health and welfare services. Very different goods could then be manufactured, possibly using alternative technologies, with work organised in different ways, so as to reduce the possibility of ill health arising in the first place. And although it would be absurd to say that all diseases would be abolished, we can assume that a real concern for the health of the population would be reflected in planning and decision making. Such a society is not a pipe-dream, but the logical outcome of the working class taking control of their own struggles. The demand for a healthier society is in effect a revolutionary demand since health-damaging aspects of production cannot be removed in response to political reform.

In an ideal world, the application of medical interventions would be guided by the criterion of scientific objectivity and driven solely by the concern to meet human needs. So would healthcare be any different if socialism were established? Yes, it would. Why? Take one or two minutes out and just think how the non-existence of wages, profits and budgets would change the present situation. Then think about the end of the hierarchies that dominate healthcare at present and no more layers of useless bureaucrats skimming their share. Instead, healthcare would be conceived and administered, democratically by us, the people who brought socialism about.

Globally, doctors, nurses, scientists and everyone at present involved in healthcare at the human level would act as guides, informing people as to where healthcare is capable of going once the artificial barriers of money had been eliminated. The recruitment, training and deployment of committed volunteers will take much organising and administration. The emphasis will be on activities and tasks rather than on occupational labels: nursing, brain surgery, portering, scientific research, and so on, rather than nurses, brain surgeons, porters, scientific researchers. Everywhere we shall treat each other as friendly co-operators.

Although we cannot specify in advance a utopian blueprint for a socialist health policy what we can say about the likely effects on health and illness of future socialist society is that the promotion of good health and the care of the injured and sick won’t be restricted by money considerations. There will be no profit to be made out of employing people in dangerous occupations, supplying them with unhealthy substances or encouraging their harmful addictions. No sales-people will advertise items and services that at best have no good effect on health and at worst damage it. Health and injury insurance and the compensation industry won’t be necessary. The types and incidence of health problems are likely to differ in the early stage of socialism from later stages when the legacy from the money system will have receded. Also, some parts of the world today have different degrees of economic development, commonly referred to as under-developed, developing and developed. We don’t know the extent to which present trends, such as urbanisation and environmental degradation, will continue, accelerate or be reversed. One thing we can say for certain is that socialism will release us from useless and harmful capitalist employment. We shall be free to take up work that will meet the needs of ourselves, others and the community, society and world in which we live. This is not to say that there won’t be problems to overcome. Natural disasters and pandemics won’t end with capitalism, although more effort will doubtless be devoted to avoiding and coping with them. Health and welfare problems resulting from natural disasters like floods or earthquakes will continue to require emergency measures. But the problems won't be as extensive. For one thing, people living in disaster-prone areas will be offered removal to safer environments.

Socialism will be able to provide decent care for the elderly. These now take up half the beds on the orthopaedic, chest and other medical wards. They are seen as a burden. In a socialist society real care – and that takes a lot of time, a lot of people – will be possible. Also, people with learning difficulties – those currently dismissed as mentally handicapped – can be more integrated into the community. A lot of people are currently left in hospitals because the society beyond can't be bothered, or lacks the cash, to care for them. Socialist hospitals will keep patients in for longer periods and not treat still frail and vulnerable patients as “bed-blockers”. At the moment hospitals do their best to throw patients out so that their beds can be filled. There will also be the follow-up treatment of district nurses and community psychiatric nurses engaged in home visits. People need to be properly looked after and capitalism isn't letting us do that as well as we can and should. There will be an increase in neighbourhood medical clinics and a return to rural cottage hospitals providing care and treatment although not performing complicated transplant surgery. Capitalism sees the unproductive disabled as a drain on profits. Socialism will promote a good life and society for all, regardless of health conditions.

The replacement of a society based on production for profit by one based on production for needs will not of course mean the disappearance of disabled people, but it will certainly change for the better the way they are treated. Whether someone enjoys perfect health or suffers slightly or severely from an ailment of some kind will make no difference to the free and equal access they will have to the goods and services society is able to produce. Men and women in different states of health will be able to contribute to the work of society in different ways. They will be in a position to balance the needs of themselves, others, the community and world society with their own physical and mental abilities and tastes.

 In a socialist society where the capacity for wealth production, unhampered by the colossal waste endemic to this one, can be released to the full, human values will predominate and energy can be concentrated on the causes of disease and its prevention. Issues such as the need for pharmaceuticals to make billions of pounds in profit will not exist.

But is there anything to think that socialism has something to offer as an answer to the problem of human misery? In socialism, we will still have some of the problems that make you feel miserable, scared, depressed or demented. Socialism is not a solution to all mental health problems, it is a solution only to those created by capitalist conditions of life, or to class conditions of life. While some of the problems are due to being human beings living within a social setting, others are due to being biological organisms, and as such will break down if we are damaged or just get old. While there could be reduced use of medication and increased use of social therapy, the power to detain people whose condition renders them dangerous to others will still be needed. Capitalism has long produced the potential for such individual development, the task now is to realise it, to persuade working people that there is more to living than the shit of capitalism—we are more than pigs, content with mere physical satisfaction. All the indications are that common ownership and democratic control are the best way to long life and happiness.

Minimising costs so as to maximise profits has harmful consequences. The health and welfare of the workforce and the effects on the environment take second place. That's what cutting costs mean. This is why at work we suffer speed-up, pain, stress, boredom, overwork and accidents. This is why we have to work long hours, shift-work and night-work. This is why the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe are all polluted. So in socialism, there won't be such a widespread demand for health and welfare services.

Sunday, January 30, 2022



Education is an integral part of any social system. Feudal society required little of the peasants by way of education. The Industrial Revolution demanded more - workers who could make, tend and repair machines, and some who could keep records and books. In the 20th century, the process was continued - mass education was fashioned into an increasingly refined training and selection mechanism for the labour force.

There is conventional mythology surrounding the noble ideals of education. Schools are said to be places where young minds are nurtured, where boys and girls are prepared to become responsible citizens. In the present society, the main aim of education is to provide the knowledge and skills base necessary for employment in capitalism. Dominated by commodity relationships and values, education both reflects and contributes to those relationships and values. Under capitalism, most people don’t get the chance to develop their capacities.

The inherent inequality between teacher and pupil has led some critics to question the value of "schooling". The concern has been that hierarchical and autocratic teacher-pupil relationships concentrate power in the hands of teachers and lead children to acquire attitudes of docility and submission to authority. A critique of authoritarian schooling as simply preparation for employment led to a movement for "de-schooling"

So, what would education be like in a socialist society? A detailed description obviously cannot be given, however, it is very clear that, in complete contrast to capitalism, socialism will put human need first. The welfare and needs of people, both as individuals and as a community will be treated as a priority. The importance of developing to the full, the mental, physical and social abilities and talents of everyone, as individuals, will undoubtedly be recognised. Most significantly, education will inevitably be considered a lifelong process and certainly not something to be compartmentalised into time slots, like happens under the present system. As a result of this, people will be able to lead far more satisfying lives than could ever be even remotely achieved under capitalism. This satisfaction would derive from the contributions to the overall material, intellectual social and cultural wealth of society which people would be able to make and, of course, from the fact that, as individuals, they would be able to enjoy the fruits of the common store. Learning is better stimulated through a holistic and experiential approach and would be available on-demand at all life stages. From the moment a baby emerges from the womb (perhaps, even before that) it begins the process of learning. "Playing" is a part of that process. We cannot visualise a socialist society where children are regimented into education, conveyor-belt style. Basic schooling would take a huge shift away from the narrow confines of a rigid, test-based curriculum. Endless possibilities would be available from an early age to stimulate children. No financial budget means more "educators, facilitators, trainers, coaches, mentors" etc. to guide young and old through a much wider educational experience. Universal education can only raise levels in all areas important to the well-being of society whether knowledge, awareness, tolerance, capabilities, wider appreciation of self and others, resulting in wealth being measured in human terms. It will take time for world socialist education to develop its own character, and there is no reason to suppose that it will take the same form for everyone everywhere.

A quotation from the Communist Manifesto sums up the situation well:
“In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”

Here, the term “free development” can be taken to include education. In a socialist society, there would be no financial constraints since the monetary system will have been abolished and production will be carried out solely for human need. The stresses and strains of cutbacks and needless austerity measures will finally have been abolished forever and at last, humanity will be able to move forward, considerably through genuine and effective education, towards real progress, both as individuals and as a community. The knowledge and skills needed to run a society that inherits the best from the past and rejects the worst will be circulated and developed among adults, and the ability to think creatively and critically transmitted from generation to generation. There will surely be different approaches to — even controversies about that task.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Food Production


The first point to make is that farming methods will be adopted according to health benefits, not wealth benefits and satisfying genuine hunger not hunger for profits. The proposal that the world community in socialism could immediately stop deaths from hunger and rapidly increase the supply of food is based on the freedom that all people would enjoy to cooperate with each other to produce food directly for needs without the constraints of the market system. With food, it is possible to increase production rapidly because a lot can be done with hand labour. It is not necessary to first expand the means of production. Whilst industry and manufacturing may take time to bring in more machinery and equipment, local initiatives could mean more people using their local land resources for more intensive production. But, to begin with, a socialist world could immediately stop people dying of hunger with a more equal distribution of scarce supplies. At the same time, local initiatives would greatly improve the supply of food within a very short time

However, we also have an example of a rapid increase in food production during World War 2 when the normal operation of the market system was suspended. Though this example may seem perverse so far as socialism is concerned, it does indicate what can be achieved when production and distribution are organised, even for a short period, outside the normal constraints of market laws.

Before the Second World War Britain imported approximately 55 million tonnes, or 3/4 of the country's food by ship each year. In England and Wales arable acreage was about 9 million; whereas 16 million acres were under grass and a further 5 ½ million was “rough grazing” (once reasonable pasture). One acre of permanent grass (for animal fodder) fed 1 or 2 people; one acre sown with wheat fed 20 people, and one acre sown with potatoes fed 40 people.

What was achieved was that over a period of about four years food production in Britain was increased by 70 percent. Nationally, some 6 ½ million new acres were ploughed up between 1939 and 1944. Harvests of wheat, barley and potatoes increased by over 100%; milking cows increased by 300,000; other cattle by 400,000. This was at the expense of fewer sheep, pigs and poultry but enabled the country to completely reverse its reliance on foreign food. In terms of calories, the net output had been quadrupled by 1943-44. By the end of the war, food imports had been reduced from 22 million to 11 million tons and Britain was producing well over 60% of its food. From 815,000 allotments in 1939 the number rose to 1,400,000 by 1943. allotments were estimated to contribute some 1.3 million tonnes of food produce. 90,000 women of the Land Army came from very different backgrounds. The daughters of doctors, solicitors, labourers and factory workers from the industrial areas joined together, driving tractors, milking cows and cleaning out pigs. By all accounts, the work was hard but enjoyable. The living conditions on farms were often crude but mostly morale was high. With the ending of occupations such as those in insurance, finance and banking, millions of people would become available for useful production in socialism. Restaurants were run by local authorities, who set them up in a variety of different premises such as schools and church halls. They evolved from the Londoners’ Meals Service which originated in September 1940 as a temporary, emergency system for feeding those who had been bombed out. By mid-1941 two hundred of these restaurants were operating.

War Agricultural Committees were formed immediately on the outbreak of war. They were leading farmers and nurserymen, with a good knowledge of local conditions, who had volunteered, unpaid, to help in the campaign to get full production from the land in their particular county. These Executive Committees, numbering eight to twelve members, Ministry of Agriculture propaganda poster predominantly farmers, were given delegated powers by the Minister under the wartime Defence Regulations. There was usually at least one landowner, one representative from the farmworkers and one woman representing the Women’s Land Army. They formed Sub-Committees to cover different aspects of work, and District Committees to ensure that there was at least one Committee member in touch with every farmer, up to say 50 or 60, in his area of 5000 acres. Later, some District Committees embraced a representative from every parish. The role was to tell farmers what was required of them in the way of wheat, potatoes, sugar beet or other priority crops, and to help the farmers to get what they needed in the way of machinery, fertilisers and so on to achieve the targets which were set them. The Sub-Committees covered the following concerns: Cultivations, Labour, Machinery and Land Drainage, Technical Development, Feeding Stuffs, Insects and Pests, Horticulture, Financial and General Purposes, Goods and Services and War Damage. The Committees employed paid officers such as the Executive Officer and assistants in each county and District Officers to keep the show running smoothly in every locality. Technical Officers were also employed to advise farmers about such matters as the lime requirements of their soils, the making of silage, the treatments of soil pests, the care of machinery and the improvement of livestock. Farmers could get expert advice free, which contributed enormously to increasing the output that farmers achieved.

Such an increase of 70 percent today, on a world scale and within four years, would be more than enough to provide every person with choice and free access to good quality food. The organisation that led to increased food production in Britain during World War II indicates practical ways of achieving similar results in socialism. Potentially, the organisation already exists. In place of national governments, the UN could be democratised as a World Council which could become a centre for coordinating a worldwide war on hunger. The FAO could also achieve its potential as a key organisation at last able to achieve real results. To devolve the work, agricultural committees could be set up in every country and these could be further de-centralised through county and district committees, (or equivalent bodies in all countries). At every level throughout this structure, the FAO could provide skilled staff able to draw on its store of world data and technical information to advise and assist the work. This network could be extended to local farms with an ability to adapt to every local condition.

Common ownership would give all communities immediate access to land. In the short term, people in the areas of greatest need could concentrate their local efforts using the best means available. At the same time, the regions most able to do so could assist with increased supplies. There can be no doubt that throughout the world, within a season, the plight of the seriously undernourished would be greatly improved. In the longer term, communities in socialism would be able to look beyond the immediate priorities of desperate need and begin to sort out the appalling state of world agriculture that is a consequence of the exploitation and destructive methods of capitalist agribusiness. It not only exploits farmworkers of all lands, but it also exploits the soil and anything in nature it can get its hands on. There is of course widespread concern, not just about starving people but also about the damage and loss of natural food assets across the world. This is the continuing despoliation of land and ocean resources, the excessive and inappropriate use of weed killers and chemical fertilisers together with the cruel treatment of animals. Also within agriculture, we shall be reassessing the relative values of different methods of producing our food. We shall be free to look at the results of studies knowing that there is no hidden agenda or biased information. When we have the correct, unambiguous facts in front of us decisions can be made unemotionally about land use. Chemical fertiliser or natural manure and traditional methods? Monoculture or mixed farms? Grain for food or fuel? Grain for humans or animals?

With shrinking aquifers and glaciers there is huge wastage of water with some countries' current irrigation methods, poor infrastructure, old or outdated technology in some industries, money-based equations for water use when mining for minerals and a billion-dollar business selling bottled water at up to a thousand times the cost of water from the tap with how many thousands of gallons wasted in the process? In the likely future scenario, demographics will probably change a great deal but we shall be in a position to totally re-think the use of the global water supply and consider every stage from aquifers, dams, irrigation methods, industrial use and domestic consumption. Water and the infrastructure required will be considered in minute detail as to how best to use, re-use, conserve and generally value it as a basic necessity of all life.

It will make sense, in general, to reduce food miles – to re-localise agriculture for everyone's benefit. By doing so huge savings will be made in fuel and energy use. But local food production is limited by variations of soil and climate, which means that local projects would contribute to balanced production throughout the regions of the world.

 On this larger scale the grain-producing regions of America, Canada, Australia and Asia would continue to be important. Wheat, maize and rice are basic to world agriculture and new areas could be developed for the production of these cereals together with the whole range of nutritious fruits and vegetables. With the ending of rival capitalist states and the market system, the world community in socialism would have the great advantage of being able to make the best use of the land resources of the planet in whatever location may be considered best. A priority in such decisions would be care of the environment. The possibility that conservation methods might require more people would not matter. There would be no economic pressure to carry on using destructive production methods that use the least amounts of labour.

Certainly in the transition period whilst we are investing our human energies into the appropriate infrastructure we can cut emissions drastically and restore food security and control to local communities, always remembering decisions will be made locally. On the global scale, we will move right away from decisions imposed and implemented by world financial authorities and transnational corporations in favour of working for the common good. Respect will automatically be conferred to local knowledge and traditional methods understanding that the objective will be to satisfy food, fibre, fuel and other needs.

Friday, January 28, 2022



Socialism will have its problems, although on a massively reduced scale compared to any previous form of society. Socialism will not be a society without emotion. The conflict between individuals and possibly between communities may exist. But socialism will deal fairly and sensibly with its problems and will not try to disguise them. Societies achieve conformity to their purpose and general standards not only by laying down formal rules but by reinforcing these rules with the alternative pressures of individual acceptance or rejection. Friends who fall out, withdraw and reject by not speaking to each other. Larger groups may sanction a member by expulsion or by ostracising, “sending to Coventry. A society punishes its members with banishment or imprisonment. In all these cases it is accepted that imposed isolation from the group is painful and therefore salutary. But the law as we know it today will have no place in a socialist world. Socialism is not an idealised fairyland where anybody may do just as they like. If an individual’s actions impact adversely on those around them, the community would not be slow to apply sanctions.

 The only question is, what would those sanctions be? In a cooperative community, it is quite possible that the labels ‘uncooperative’, or ‘self-serving’, ‘wasteful’, or ‘propertarian’ would be such stigmas that people would go to considerable lengths to avoid earning them. At any rate, punishment in socialism, was there ever a need for it, would be socially agreed and socially administered, in general proportion to the offence committed. Even if the occasional murder still takes place, the person committing it will merit treatment and support rather than the punitive measures usually imposed today.

In “The German Ideology,” Marx said, “Civil Society embraces the whole material intercourse of individuals within a definite stage of the development of the productive forces.”

This makes a distinction between the “whole material intercourse of individuals” and the class relations of production. Whilst the main function of the state with its law and coercive machinery is to regulate and enforce the class relations of production, there remain some features of law and its enforcement that have no apparent connection with class relations and can therefore be said to be a part of civil society. It is examples of this law that would be continued into a socialist society. These include laws that they arise from moral or ethical questions – they vary over time and between countries without making the slightest difference of productive relationships. They arise from the organization of civil society. Similarly, we have laws on drunk or dangerous driving. You would need these laws in any modern society. They do not arise from the regulation and enforcement of the wage labour/capital relationship – they arise from the need for safety. They would be continued in socialism. Similarly, we have laws on professional qualifications – for doctors, surgeons and pharmacists. Licences for car drivers, air pilots, ships captains and so on. Again, these laws arise from the need for safety. Socialism will be organised for needs, so they will be continued in socialism. Very important in a socialist society will be planning law. There will be a democratically decided policy on town and country planning – the idea that anyone will be able to act against it by putting up buildings or other structures wherever they like is absurd – you cannot take it seriously. In socialism, your planning permission will give you free access to all the necessary materials, but you will only be able to build with planning permission. Again, very important in socialism will be constitutional law. This will define both the freedoms and the boundaries of decision making amongst public bodies – the committees running institutions such as hospitals and schools, production units and the various parish, district and urban councils. The idea that without constitutional law you could have all these bodies making decisions against each would be total madness. The dictionary defines law as the rules of the community. That is adequate for our purposes. Rules are not always made by one person or group to oppress another. And since we agree that socialism will be a society with rules – it follows that there will be law in socialism.

So within a socialist society there will, we suggest, be regulation of sorts and maybe even places of detention. Violent or other anti-social behaviour will be addressed not by punishing people but by treating them, if necessary for the protection of the rest of the community in a confined place. But will the inmates find themselves banged up and slopping out? Surely not. We would think that their very inability to participate appropriately in society would be sufficient reason to extend to them the finest care, compassion and support that we can muster. Although it will be global as opposed to tribal, people will still live in small localised communities and, freed from capitalism's physical and mental shackles, will spontaneously look out for one another. It is after all our nature to do so.

Thursday, January 27, 2022



Housing is one problem of capitalism that has been a constant source of difficulty and is part and parcel of working-class life. Few members of our class escape some aspect of housing trouble. Whether it is the complete crisis of homelessness or the stress involved in keeping our homes through paying rent or repaying a loan. Most members of our class live in relative poor housing, some of which is within the bounds of adequacy, while the rest reflects the worst in living conditions. Our quality of housing acts as a good guide to the degree of suffering associated with the many other problems inherent in our class position such as bad health, poor nutrition and inadequate education. We can therefore accept that the problem of housing reflects the problems of capitalism. When socialism is established it will be necessary to set up councils at local, regional and global levels for the administration of social affairs in every aspect of productive activity. Also, there will have to be councils whose functions will be to co-ordinate the work of the various specific councils. The majority of the people in a local area will make decisions affecting that area specifically, the people in a certain region will make decisions for that region and everyone will make global decisions. This will mean that everyone must have access to vast amounts of knowledge, concerning what each area produces, where it is stored, how what is needed can be got from one place and moved to another. All this knowledge can be computerised. When it comes to voting on specific issues people need go no further than their living room. People could, if they wished, check on how a certain project was progressing so that whatever was happening could be under the constant scrutiny of society as a whole.

When socialism is established it will have two important projects concerning housing. One will be to find homes for the millions throughout the world who have none. The other will be to clear the world of the horrible slums and shantytowns in which so many of its population live. Therefore an enormous worldwide reconstruction project would begin which would involve the democratic participation of nearly everyone, in one way or other. It would have to be decided, what region and what local area requires houses, how many, what type or style, what materials they will be made from and how much of each is required. Obviously, with this will go the many and various decisions concerning town planning, roads, recreational facilities, "shopping malls". Though the work involved may require many people, they will be forthcoming from all the occupations made redundant by the overthrow of capitalism, such as production for war and anything concerning finance, advertising, etc. Schools for training and re-training people in the various skills will be set up, and as far as the productive work goes they will have the machinery capitalism created plus whatever advances on this the first members of socialist society will make. People with specific skills related to housing, or those who wish to learn them, can volunteer at an administrative office similar to present manpower or job centres and can be notified where their skills can be used.

After socialism has solved the initial task of clearing away capitalism’s rubble in every respect (feeding, clothing, housing, educating, clearing away the pollution, curing curable diseases), then it will be apparent that the change in society will be more than just production for use instead of profit, but will entail vast changes from top to bottom in every part of society. Nowhere will this be apparent more than over how we group in communities. Cities, as we know them today, will probably no longer exist as people won’t want or need to be condensed in a particular area (the fulfilment of the Communist Manifesto demand for the "gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country".) When starvation has been stopped and when every human being has a roof over their head, then socialist society can turn to satisfy people’s needs in a more sophisticated way, and this will certainly be the case in housing. Whenever there is a need for a new type of house, a town or a building for the use of the community, architects will submit plans and models which can be voted on by the community as a whole in a given area. Though there may be competition between the various architects and planners, it will be from the premise of who can best beautify the locality. One can be certain that there will be new types of dwellings. Along with the disappearance of cities as we know them will also go the high-rises, those up-turned shoe-boxes where people are crammed in like sardines, to be replaced with buildings where people can at least live like humans. With whatever changes in the family structure, the new social conditions will create will also come to a need for new types of homes; there may be a type of communal home. And it may be that the design of a building will be determined by its functions, its given physical environment and the materials to be used. Whatever the case, people will be able to choose their home to suit their own particular needs concerning physical comfort and recreational requirements.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Conclusions about Socialism

 We are not so naive as to imagine that the changeover from world capitalism to world socialism will occur over a single weekend. The changeover can be envisaged as taking place over a relatively short period of time of, say, five years or so (we simply don't know.) Yet even before the full establishment of socialism people will have started to do what is needed to begin creating the new world. Local life will soon become largely self-administering and local plans will be devised to make the best alternative uses of buildings that no longer served their original purposes, such as banks and armament factories.

 Communities able to grow their own food can very quickly become self-sufficient: food surpluses distributed elsewhere to areas of need without any requirement to pass through the intermediary of the market although later it will not be a question of communities passing on their surpluses to one another (most, if left to themselves, wouldn't have any surplus), it is a question of them being interlinked in a single network of production which in the end embraces the whole world.

 Wider coordination will ensue. It is as well to be aware to what extent local communities are interconnected and interdependent and that this places severe limits on what needs could be met locally. The fact is that people in small communities aren't able to produce all they need or anything like it. The final stage of the production of a range of goods for everyday use could be done locally - food, clothes, shoes, furniture--as well as repairs but neither (most of) the raw materials nor (in most cases) any of the metals to make the tools and machines used in this final stage could be produced locally.

 The community will ascertain what are the requirements of the people - anything and everything that the people desire. Food, clothing, housing, transport, sanitation — these come first; all effort will be to supply those first; everyone will feel it a duty to take some part in supplying these. Then will follow the adornments and amusements.

 There will be a real sense of working together for a common goal - a true community. If you read people’s reminiscences of the Second World War or the Depression of the Thirties, you will find time and again the refrain, “Times were hard, but everybody pulled together.” It matters not how accurate these memories are; what is crucial is the way that cooperation and solidarity are seen as positive values, to be cherished and kept in the memory.

For real democracy: imagine a society where all the people would be of equal status, with equal, free access to resources owned by the community, as a whole (e.g. food, shelter, health-care, education, transportation, etc.).

Imagine a world with no leaders and no elite to lord it over us. A society where everyone can have an equal say in the issues that concern them. Above all, a world, in which all the people own and share the wealth that we need in order to live. The precise, day-to-day details of the running of this future society will be up to the people at the time, but what we can be sure of is that there will be open access to the administration of society for those interested in particular issues, such as food production, health, education, the building of houses, the environment and local matters. Immense satisfaction will be experienced by huge numbers of individuals as, on the one hand, they will be able to contribute their mental and physical energies into increasing the commonly held wealth of society, whilst on the other hand, they will satisfy their own self-defined needs from the common store.

"It's a nice idea but it will never happen" is one of the most common responses to the suggestion that it is in our interests to work towards building a socialist society. The assumption is that socialism will rely upon everybody being altruistic, sacrificing their own interests for those of others. In fact, socialism doesn’t require people to be any more altruistic than they are today. We will still be concerned primarily with ourselves, with satisfying our needs, our need to be well considered by others as well as our material and sexual needs. It is enlightened self-interest that will work for the majority. The coming of socialism will not require great changes in the way we behave, essentially only the accentuation of some of the behaviours which people exhibit today (friendliness, helpfulness, cooperation) at the expense of others which capitalism encourages (acquisitiveness, competition.)

Given the control of human affairs that a socialist system would bring, people in socialism would be able to take charge of their destiny. What is undeniable is that we are a species with great talents. In science, technology, art, crafts and design we can call upon a wide range of great skills. The point now is to release these for the benefit of humanity and a new era for humanity will have begun. Production for profit will have been confined to a barely-understandable and barbaric past.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Being Practical


Socialists have tended to refrain from extensive speculation about the precise organisation of a future socialist system but the above descriptions of what is possible demonstrate quite clearly that socialists are not planning an unachievable Utopia. Capitalism has made abundance a possibility, and made workable the "Communistic abolition of buying and selling”. We are taking the people of today and the world of today and simply changing the not very technically different methods of working and organising the resources of society for use and not for the profit of a minority. The nature of its administration will be in accord with the historical circumstances existing at the time of the revolution. The basis of industrial organisation and administration will start from the arrangements existing under capitalism at the time of the transformation, and this will present no difficulties because the socialist movement will already be thoroughly international, both in outlook and practical organisation.

As far as the machinery of organisation and administration is concerned, it will be local, regional, national and international, evolving out of forms that exist today. When we come to the question of how production solely for use will operate in socialism we begin with the fact that a worldwide structure of useful production already exists and therefore we already have a working model in front of us. The task is to identify the useful mechanisms which coordinate production and distribution now as distinct from the value factors of buying and selling in the markets, which under capitalism constrain useful production. In socialism, these useful mechanisms will operate on their own, freely and directly for need. Our proposals for practical socialism include the ways in which useful institutions and decision-making bodies could be adapted from “the existing state of things”. Socialism will be based on is production for use, with objects being made or services being provided because they are useful to people, rather than with a view to making a profit. In some ways, this is similar to what happens in many households at the moment. People cook, clean, wash their cars, because these are useful activities, not because they hope to make money from them. Equally, people grow vegetables in their garden or allotment for their own consumption or that of their friends and neighbours.

In socialism, such principles will simply be extended to the whole of production. The corollary of production-for-use is free access to what has been produced. People will simply take what they need from the “shops” or storehouses, as and when they want it. There will be no point in hoarding things for a rainy day, or in taking masses of stuff. For one thing, there is only a certain amount of most things - e.g potatoes or toilet paper that people can consume. But would some people want to have lots? Maybe some will want more of a particular item, but the extra resource used in producing extra is usually small, so this will not be such a great problem.