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.