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. 

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