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.

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