Sunday, August 28, 2022

The case for socialism.


The capitalist economy reproduces and often worsens the vast and harmful inequalities between people and countries. Capitalism is unsustainable, and at a time when global temperatures are rising and social divisions are deepening, humanity may be left with the destruction of the world or at least will with large parts of the earth uninhabitable. The economic evils of the working-class are due to their wage-slave position in capitalist society.  Capitalism cannot cure its many social ills without risking its continued existence. There is really only one cure and that cure involves the extinction of capitalism as such, for it strikes at the root of capitalism—the private ownership of the means of production.

Capitalism, administratively and socially, has always been adjusting itself to developments of new production methods, and the rise of new sections of the capitalist class, but this is not a transition to socialism. Capitalism, with ever new adjustments, will go on indefinitely unless and until the working-class decides to terminate it. Waiting for capitalism to come to its natural demise and in the meantime assisting the capitalists to reform capitalism is not work for socialists.

We have never denied that the workers consent to capitalist control and vote for capitalism at each election. The point of importance is that the capitalists are in control, and therefore the reforms they introduce are capitalist remedies for capitalist problems. While the capitalist class are in control they will decide what shall and shall not be done. The pressure of their system, not the pleadings of “labour” representatives, compels them to actions which sometimes work out to our benefit as well as theirs.

The very definite break of continuity after the workers gain control of socialism will be that, for the first time, an attack will be made on the private property basis of capitalism. Was there not a definite break of continuity in the Southern States of the U.S.A. when slavery was made illegal and replaced by wage-labour?

Socialism is international, and the conception of socialism and capitalism existing in “areas” “side by side,” is quite alien to the socialist idea.

Nationalisation is only another form of capitalism. If nationalisation leaves the workers no better and no worse off than now, that is a sufficient reason not to waste efforts on it; efforts which might be devoted to the achievement of socialism. Our alternative to advocating either private or state capitalism is to advocate socialism.

The solution to the unemployment problem is so simple that once grasped it seems extraordinary that one has not seen it before. At the outset, one may ask, “How can people be workless when the earth abounds in fruitfulness and there are hungry mouths to fill”?

 Surely the situation is ridiculous and forces one to see that there must be something fundamentally wrong with the method of production and distribution that is now in use. No amount of deep economic analysis or high-flown philosophical arguments can get over or explain away facts so simple as this.

If the bulk of the people must endure poverty and know little pleasures of life in order that capitalism shall flourish, then surely those suffering must, some time, put the question, “Why not end the whole thing” and create new conditions where this kind is unknown. The essence of carrying on as at present simply signifies the providing of leisure, enjoyment, “progress” and the rest for a privileged few at the expense of the many.

The hungry person looks into the baker’s shop but cannot take one’s fill.—Why? Because somebody else owns the goods.

The unemployed person looks wistfully through the factory window at the whirring machinery, but cannot take a place at a machine.—Why? Because somebody else owns the factory and all that is in it.

This brings us down at once to the root of the problem.

Taking the whole of society broadly, in almost every country the situation is as follows:

The great bulk of the wealth in existence is produced by working people receiving wages in return for the energies they expend. This wealth and the workshops, raw material, and land involved in its production are owned by vast companies representing’ mainly a relatively small group of shareholders who do not obtain their living by working but live on the dividends they get from the companies. These companies naturally aim at providing as many dividends as possible and to this end only keep their factories running as fully and as long as profit (in the long run, of course) comes to them. They, therefore, take advantage of the aid of science in the way of providing machinery and organisation that reduces the staff that needs to be employed for producing a given quantity of goods. The net result is a steady decrease in the relative number of work people employed and a consequent increase in unemployment.

Hundreds of years ago slavery came into existence because man’s power to produce reached a point where one man was able to produce in a day of labour a quantity of goods (or services) greater in value than what was needed to keep him for the day— a slave produced more than his or her keep. At that time this robbery was plain for every eye to see because the oppression was direct and open.  It was clear that the slaves produced, not only all that kept them but also a huge extra quantity that enabled the Patrician slave-holders to live luxuriously. Since those days the means to produce a given quantity of goods with less and less expenditure of human energy have made mighty strides until we have reached a time when millions can be kept well-nourished and live in comfort. Ponder a little more and you will realise how easy it would be to fill every empty stomach, clothe every ragged person and provide a home for everyone, if all the energy employed wastefully were spent on work connected with the production of what is necessary to meet the needs of all. Socialism implies this.

No comments: