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A new report has revealed the staggering levels of food waste coming from farms in the UK. The report describes food waste as an “ecological catastrophe of staggering proportion”. Research carried out by the food and environment charity Feedback has examined the role supermarkets play in driving the overproduction and subsequent waste of food on farms. As supermarkets have over 85 per cent of
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Major British towns and cities, including Glasgow, Wrexham, Aberdeen and Chester, could be much more severely affected by climate change than previously thought, according to new research by Newcastle University.  Looking at the impact by the year 2050-2100, the team produced results for three possible outcomes – low, medium and high-impact scenarios. But even the most optimistic case showed
3 hours 6 min ago
The fetishism of money is part of the ideology of the market system which claims uncountable victims across the world.  In the pre Colombian societies of South America, in homage to their gods, human sacrifice was widely practised.  For example, this was a cruel and gruesome ritual amongst the Aztec people in what is now Mexico. Many of the sacrificial victims were children and we think of this as barbaric.  Perhaps for this reason we now prefer to keep out of our minds that because of the constraints of the market system, on a world scale we sacrifice many more children’s lives than the Aztecs could ever manage.  We sacrifice them to the god of money, on the altar of the capitalist system.

It is important to refer to production in socialism as being “solely” for use.   This is for the obvious reason that in all societies, be they bread, bricks or bombs, things are produced for a use of one kind or another. But in the market system, commodities are also produced for sale. Goods for sale have a twin identity in that they exist in both an economic and useful form. The same is true of the labour that produces them.  In employment, the wide range of different skills have one thing in common, they have economic value. Labour as a commodity is bought and sold on the labour markets. In the production, distribution and consumption of commodities the ability of consumers to use goods depends upon their ability to first pay for them. This is because the primary motive of capitalist production is profit and the accumulation of capital. In socialism this profit motive would not exist with the result that goods would be produced “solely for use.”

Human society in its development unfolds the secrets of the Universe but at no time has this been so accelerated as in the capitalist mode of production. New discoveries and inventions plus mankind’s experience have a direct bearing on all ideas that are held in society. We are in part of an age when religious ideas, having already undergone changes in the past, are once more moving to a new field. The wide adherence to old dogmas held by the masses has now weakened. Workers should try to come to grips with the material and social causes of the problems that beset and worry them.

The aim of socialism will be to provide for the many and various needs of all the members of the community. The satisfaction of human needs will be the guiding principle. So the aim of planning will be to provide what human beings want. The technical side of production will have to socialism will be to provide for the many and various needs of all the members of the community. The satisfaction of human needs will be the guiding principle. So the aim of planning will be to provide what human beings want. The technical side of production will have to operate always within the framework of human welfare instead of as at present within that of profit.

As the means for producing wealth will belong to the community as a whole, Socialism will be a class-free society. There will be no built-in conflicts of interest between different sections of society. Further socialism will be thoroughly democratic since a society based on the rational co-operation of free men and women can only flourish if its members play an active part in running it. This means that the whole administrative structure for planning will be under democratic control. The planners will not be bureaucrats with the power to order people about but duly-chosen delegates carrying out a necessary function on behalf of the whole community. As all human beings will have free access to the wealth they need the conditions for the corruption of officials by material favours just will not exist. And, of course, the coercive apparatus, so necessary to capitalism, will long ago have been disbanded.

The first task that men and women in socialist society will face in providing for their needs is to decide what and how much they want. This is not difficult. It is a principle of statistics that though you cannot predict the needs and wants of individuals and small groups the more people involved in any survey the more reliable become the figures—as individual peculiarities even each other out. It is just a matter of research and statistics to work out how much, say, bread or shoes or houses will be needed over a given period. In fact, these techniques are already used today by governments, universities and market researchers. And of course, socialist society would lose nothing from planning to produce a little more than strictly it needed as a kind of insurance against disasters or even against faulty statistics. If too much were produced then the result would not be the disaster it would today, with factories closing and men thrown out of work. All that would happen is that stocks would be larger and people would know how to produce less next time. Similarly if too little were produced. So, first, it is a question of using social research and statistical techniques to estimate future needs. Such estimates could he submitted for discussion and approval to the community. Naturally, the figures could be challenged and, if demanded, estimates based on different assumptions worked out in much the same way as now the Government Actuary  will work out the implications of rival pension schemes submitted by management and unions in the state industries.

Once needs have been estimated and figures for various things agreed on the next problem is to decide how they should be produced—that is, where, under what conditions, with what techniques. Working and living conditions will be something that the planners will have to take as given. Minimum standards will have been agreed on previously, by the usual democratic methods, using human welfare and not technical efficiency as the criterion. For instance, from a technical point of view it might be better to set up a power station in some beauty spot. If the community decided that this place should not be spoiled then this would have to be taken into account by the planners. Similarly some production techniques may be ruled out because the community, or even the producers involved, judges them unsafe or unhealthy or degrading. Once the community has decided what working and living conditions it will not tolerate then, respecting these decisions, the planners can begin working out the best technical way to produce the wealth required. This is a complicated task, demanding the use of computing machines, since every branch of industry is dependent, in however indirect a way, on every other. A decision, for instance, to build more electric cars will mean that more steel, rubber and other things will he needed too. But once the basic ratios are known then the requirements of any combination of needs can be worked out. These ratios are governed mainly by technology which changes very slowly. This technique, associated with Wassily Leontief. is called input-output or inter industry analysis and should come into its own in the non-commercial society that Socialism will be.
Once produced the wealth must be got to the places where the people who want it are (strictly speaking, this is still part of the production process). As the means for producing wealth will belong to the community so, as soon as it is produced, will all new wealth. There is no question of trying to sell it since it was not produced for this purpose but to satisfy human needs—and also since of course buying and selling has no place in Socialism. There is just the technical question of getting the stuff to the distribution centres from where people can freely take what they need.
We are not here drawing up any blueprint but merely trying to show that Socialism is technically feasible now. The technical basis for Socialism—a technology capable of providing plenty for all, skilled and adaptable working human beings, the statistical and planning techniques — has long existed. What is lacking is just the desire and will to establish it.
A state of zero growth would be possible in a socialist society. This is not to predict the future, nor to anticipate any policy decisions that would be made in socialism.   The point is to simply set out what would be practical and possible, given all the advantages that a system of cooperation and production directly for needs would be able to work with.  What we can envisage is a strategy of development aimed at zero growth that could be achieved in possibly three stages. A state of zero growth would be a position where communities need only concern themselves with the day to day production of goods for consumption, particularly those such as food which have a limited shelf life. Also necessary would be the running of services and maintenance. In socialism, the achievement of zero growth would mean stable levels of production for stable levels of consumption using production facilities which would be in use for long periods. The projects necessary to get to a state of zero growth would call for both world cooperation and world organisation, particularly in the supply of information, planning and decision-mak-ing.  It follows that when accomplished, not only would production levels fall but the need for information, planning and decision-making would also be reduced.  This anticipates that centres of organisation at the world and regional levels, could give way to more locally organised production   for the work of providing for daily needs, the running of services and maintenance.
What is possible here is a self-regulating society with work activity in balance with daily needs and in balance with the environment. What this could mean is that providing for the necessities of daily life would be more under local con¬trol involving less allocations of social labour. This could create vigorous communities with wide scope for individual development and diversity of expression. Would a sensible society, conscious of its need to limit productive activity and keep it in balance with care of the environment, really want to continually develop new production facilities?  How much of the innovation that goes on represents real gain, and how much of it is part of changes in fashion to do with consumerist values and attempts by corporations and their advertisers to increase sales?  We can surely assume that people in socialism would not go on and on with the increased production of goods and services for the sake of it. This would be a self-imposed treadmill. Would a socialist system really want to follow the example of capitalism where life’s objectives are focussed on the acquisition and consumption of material things?  It will of course be important that needs are satisfied but the concept of needs will no longer be based on the idea that increased happiness comes with increased consumption and possessions.   Such an illusion, expressing the consumerist values of a market system could give way to a responsible, self-determined appraisal of needs which would reflect the enjoyment of more meaningful community relationships.  
9 hours 8 min ago
A quarter of families are headed by a single parent. Single parents are increasingly being pushed into precarious zero-hours contracts and unsuitable self-employment, putting more children at risk of living in poverty, the single parents’ charity Gingerbread said. There had been a 58% increase in the number of self-employed single parents in the past 10 years, but warned that a significant
9 hours 8 min ago