Friday, September 30, 2022

Emancipation of Money 6/7


Those who meet with the Socialist Party’s proposition that goods and services should be freely available for people to take according to their needs often react by claiming that this wouldn't work because, first, nobody would want to work and, second, people would grab more than they needed so that shortages would again develop.

There are simple answers to these objections. First, the threat of starvation is not, and certainly should not be, the incentive to work. If some work is so unpleasant that nobody would freely choose to do it then it ought to be done by machines or rotated equally among all members of society and not imposed for life upon a few. Second, people only tend to be greedy under conditions of scarcity. If goods were freely available in ample quantities people would soon adapt to taking only what they need.

A money-free society is so obvious a suggestion for this age of potential abundance that it is not surprising that people should come to discover this quite independently of the activity of the Socialist Party. The money system is obsolete and anti-human that in years to come, with the increasing education and increasing misery of modern life, together with growing plenty, we can expect the abolition of money to be treated more and more as a serious issue, to be absorbed into more and more minds. Socialism won’t evolve automatically or gradually out of capitalism. Its establishment requires a decisive break — a political and social revolution — that will replace class ownership with social ownership. The movement for the abolition of money must be political because when we destroy money we destroy the basis of the power of our rulers. They are unlikely to take kindly to this, so we must organise politically to remove them. We must stop thinking of the money-free world as an 'ultimate aim' with no effect on our actions now. We must understand that the abolition of money is THE immediate demand. A practical proposition and an urgent necessity, not something to be vaguely 'worked towards'. 

 It is hard to envisage a world without money. It requires a considerable leap of the imagination to think of life without cash, prices wages or financial worries. From birth to the grave, workers’ lives are conditioned by money. Without it we starve; because of it we are poor; to get it we are forced into wage slavery; if we steal it we can be locked up. These days, those who pose as socialists, but in fact have no other purpose than to reform the capitalist system, are never heard to refer to the abolition of money. 

The Socialist Party stands for a society in which the entire means of producing and distributing wealth will be owned by the entire world community. The resources of the earth will belong to everyone. No laws will exist to preserve the right of one section of society to use things and another section to be denied the use of them. World socialism will be a social order based on free access for all people to all the goods of the earth. In such a society, money would be an out-dated relic. Nobody will buy anything or sell anything or pay for anything. Those who cannot easily imagine such an arrangement should remember that people in pre-capitalist societies would have found our present social order equally difficult to comprehend. Those who have made the mental leap from the prison of the money system to the freedom of world socialism are urged to join us now in our struggle to create the society of tomorrow. The objective is urgent; we have waited for too long.

 Unless you do have a clear idea of socialism then anyone can claim it, defame it and say it doesn't work. The Socialist Party critics say that we ]are utopian because we hold to the view that a new society is the only lasting solution to the mess we're in. Yes", they say. "the world is heading for disaster, but it's better to try to make smaller changes than go all out for socialism and perhaps change nothing". Instead of succumbing to the prevailing view that things must carry on more or less as they are, we are called Utopians because we dare to suggest that we could run our lives in a much better harmonious way. From their perspective, we should limit ourselves to short-term changes such as changing interest rates or whatever. So who is being unrealistic? Socialism is no more than a description of the social conditions in which human talents can truly blossom. Unless we keep the idea of working directly for a worldwide cooperative commonwealth on the agenda people will always be sidetracked by every arrival of a new problem for capitalism. By describing how socialism would operate we simply point out how our potential could be realised if we used current know-how in a different way. None of this is Utopian.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Emancipation from Money 5/7


We live in a world of potential abundance for all, but we are trapped within a social system of mass deprivation. We know the world has the resources for all humanity to live comfortably. Therefore the question is why isn't the whole of humanity living comfortably?  The way society is structured will not allow human needs to be met. “Needs" are measured by the “market”. You can have anything you want, from baked beans to even human beings, as long as you can afford to pay for it. We know that what we need and what we can afford are not necessarily the same thing. Surely, the very fact that present society has the capacity for everyone to live comfortably but won’t allow this to happen is in itself proof that a new system is needed?

What exactly does the Socialist Party mean by “free access”? If "free access” is interpreted as saying that in a socialist society whatever you think you would like to have you can have, we would say that it does not make sense. In a socialist society, you will only be able to have free access to the things which society decides it will make available for free access. In modern terms, we would say it means this: everywhere you will have water and sanitation, education and health services, transport, housing, food and all of the things that people want. But human needs are not all the same all over the world. In a tropical climate, some things are different to what they are in a temperate or cold climate. So nor will it make sense to say that production all over the world will be administered from a centralised institution such as the United Nations in New York. As far as is possible, with some very important caveats, it is proposed that decision-making is left to local people to take the initiative in everything, that is in producing what they want and deciding how they are going to make those things available for free access.

Global bodies such as WHO or the FAO will function as centres of administration information. When people locally cannot produce certain things which are wanted, they communicate and coordinate with the central administration and they pass it on to the people who are able to do it. If there is a shortage of something in Ethiopia which can reasonably be produced in England, it will convey the details to the relevant English administration that would do what is necessary. In other words, you rely on local or regional initiatives and you don't have to have great centralised institutions which are going to organise all these things.

Having scrapped the present system of only producing goods and services if there is an expectation of profit for the parasitical minority who monopolise the earth's resources, socialism will forget the old rules of the buying and selling game (the market) and will distribute what is needed on the basis of free and equal access. Money will be abolished: you cannot buy from yourself what you commonly own. The satisfaction of human needs will involve people giving according to their abilities and taking according to their needs.

Free access means that no human being will need to buy anything. Anything that society can produce will be there for the taking. Healthy food; decent homes, the possible to build; gas, electricity, water; entertainment; all medical and educational services - all completely free and available for all. For far too long our needs have been influenced by the selling process and the crude mind manipulation of the advertisers. In a socialist society, we can begin to think about what we really require to be happy human beings and we shall set about supplying ourselves with the resources needed to live as fully as we can. Socialism will not only be able to satisfy our current needs, but it will enable us to question and challenge those needs - to escape capitalist consumerism.


Once the means of production are the common heritage of all and are under democratic control, then the profit motive and the price system can be abolished. Wealth can be produced solely for people to use. People can have free access to all the things they need to live and enjoy life. Goods will not be priced but will be available for all to take freely according to their needs.

A world of production solely for use and free access for all is there for the making. All it requires is a majority of workers who understand and want it to join together for the purpose of bringing it about. For years a minority of workers have argued the case for such an exciting social alternative. For how much longer we will remain a minority is up to our fellow workers. Will they accept a world of misery and insecurity and poverty in the midst of potential plenty, or will they unite for the creation of a system where never again will the pained cry of a hungry child whose parents lack the money to feed it be heard on our planet?

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Emancipation from Money 4/7


Capitalism is an economic system which operates according to economic laws which cannot be changed by human action, and which human beings have to accept and submit to in the same way as they do to natural forces like the weather and the tides.

 But there is a difference between the economic forces of capitalism and the tides in that the former only operate because humans chose to keep in being the system of production for sale on a market with a view to profit. If people decided to end this system, then these forces would cease to operate. But, as we have explained, there is no point in accepting to work within this system and then trying to stop these economic forces from operating. It can't be done. As long as capitalism remains its economic laws will continue to function roughly like the tides. We are talking about people being in charge of the production of the wealth they must have to survive. This is what socialism is about: subjecting production to conscious human control so that it can be directed to the single purpose of turning out goods and services to satisfy human needs. Why should this not be possible? After all, production for use — production to satisfy human needs — is the logical purpose of producing wealth.

Production to satisfy human needs is possible, but it requires a fundamental social change to make it a reality. Basically, all that is in and on the earth must become the common property of everyone. In other words, there must no longer be any territorial rights or any private property rights over any part of the globe. The farms, factories, mines and all other places where wealth is produced will not belong to anybody. Social classes would cease to exist and all men and women would stand in equal relationship to the means of production as free and equal members of a class-free community.

The case for a class-free society, in which production is geared to satisfying human needs, and in which production for sale and the market economy are abolished, is highlighted by the fact that modern industry and technology have now been developed to the point where they could provide an abundance of consumer goods and services for all the people of the world. The problem of production — of how to produce enough for everybody — has been solved. Mankind’s long battle to conquer scarcity has been won. Potential abundance is a reality. The task is to make abundance itself a reality.

This can never be done in a world based on private ownership of the means of production, where wealth is produced for sale with a view to profit. The only way in which abundance can be achieved is through a society where all resources, man-made as well as natural, have become the common heritage of all humanity, under their democratic control. On this basis, production can be democratically planned to provide what human beings need. In such a society, the market, wages, profits, buying and selling, and money, would have no place. They would cease to exist.

A society of abundance is not an extension of today’s unsustainable “consumer society”, with its enormous waste. It does not mean people will come to acquire more and more useless gadgets designed to have a limited operating life. Socialism means that people’s material needs, both as individuals and as a community, will be fully satisfied in a rational way.

Contrary to the misconceptions carefully cultivated by the defenders of capitalism, people are not inherently greedy and human needs are not limitless. From a material point of view, human beings need a certain amount and variety of necessities for a happy lifestyle; what this is in individual cases can soon be discovered by the individual himself — and would be if there were free access to consumer goods and services. Wouldn’t people take more than they needed? But why would they if they can be assured that there would always be enough to go round? When all consumer goods and services are freely available people can be expected to take only as much as they felt they need. To take any more would be pointless.

Modern technology can supply enough for everybody to have free access to consumer goods and services. Consider the current waste of resources. Think of all the armed forces and armaments. Imagine all the people, buildings and equipment involved with the market and money economy. Just how many people are involved in such unproductive activities? We all know of the planned built-in obsolescence, the deliberate manufacture of shoddy goods made to break down or wear out after a comparatively short period of time. In a rationally organised society, consumer goods could be made to last; this would mean an immense saving of resources. With the elimination of capitalist waste, surely there enough to adequately feed, clothe and house everybody could easily be produced.

Mankind can circle the earth without touching the ground; kill each other when thousands of miles apart; weigh the distant stars.  Humanity is indeed an ingenious species. But when confronted with one problem, it is defeated. Have six very hungry individuals without any money and have six loaves of bread and ask “how they can acquire the six loaves?  The Socialist Party can provide the answer. The capitalist system cannot.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Emancipation from Money 3/7

 In a socialist society, the means of producing and distributing wealth — factories, farms, mines, offices, transport — will belong to the whole community. Common ownership will do away with the need for exchange, so that money will have no use. With socialism the best method of distribution will be to allow each as much as he or she desires of the social products. Each would contribute to the social production according to one’s ability and it would be a waste of effort and energy to measure or ration what each should have. At the moment people may have needs but, unless they can afford to buy them, they must go without. Production is geared to sale with a view to profit. Socialism means production solely for use: bread to eat and houses to live in.

There will be no wages, for in a class-free society no person will have the right to buy another person's ability to work for a price. Work in socialist society will depend on cooperation and the voluntary decisions of men and women to contribute to society in order to keep it going. Just as an individual could not survive if he or she did not eat, drink or take basic health care, so a socialist society would not survive unless the people in it acted cooperatively in a spirit of mutuality.

Critics of the Socialist Party often tell us that socialism would be confronted with millions of men and women who would refuse to contribute to make society run efficiently. Indeed, socialist society will contain millions of babies, millions of frail elderly and millions of disabled and infirm who will not be able to work down mines or till the fields. If one who contributes less takes more, why should this be a problem in a society which is based on the satisfaction of needs? Those people living in a socialist society who are too work-shy will not be a drain on society's resources.

But what about greed? Critics of the Socialist Party worry that in a society of free access, people will take more than they need and human greed will lead people to consume too much. It is based on the false assumption that socialism would be a society of consumption only, although it would obviously be a society where what is consumed would have to be matched by what is produced. So, if people in socialist society decide upon unhealthy gluttony there will have to be provision made to produce enough food to satisfy such over-eating. Now it is quite true that if the supermarkets were opened tomorrow and workers were invited to go in and take as much as they want without having to pay there would be a mad rush and the shelves would be empty within a day. But why should this be the case if the supermarket are always open for free access? It would be strange indeed for those in socialism to hoard dozens of loaves of bread when they can go to the supermarket  and collect a fresh loaf of bread each day. Perhaps, in innocence, the early days of socialism some individuals will indulge in a few feasts of conspicuous over-consumption (who could condemn such action after years of poverty and deprivation?) The newcomer to free access is unlikely to behave sociably, because the market system has conditioned us to anti-social, consumerist thinking but such occasions will soon end when the physical consequences of such irrationality are felt. Abolish prices once and for all, and replace this outdated system with a society of free and equal access for all, based upon self-defined needs and the social habit of behaving sociably will emerge. 

Critics of the Socialist Party also feel convinced that inequality would return and a hierarchy would soon arise again, a phenomenon from which society can never escape. But if each and every one of us can avail ourselves of the necessities of life, how can a bureaucracy impose its will as they do now by regulating and controlling what we require to live. 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. Otherwise socialism will have to acquire effective means of compulsion, but then it will be socialism no longer.