The Western Socialist
Vol. 29 - No. 226
No. 2, 1962
Man, the human animal, must satisfy certain natural basic needs in order to survive. He must eat, drink, excrete, sleep, maintain adequate health and procreate. These needs constitute the innate nature of man.
But Man cannot live alone—he must enter into relationship with his fellows if he is to develop and maintain adequate mental and physical health. We know that this dependency of man on others is exhibited in the continuum of the life process, with the parent-offspring relationship and with his existence within the womb and during infancy. The organism is dependent upon the maternal organism for the satisfaction of its needs. This satisfaction is the result of biological co-operation between the embryo, or the infant, and the maternal organism. The maternal organism, too, can only exist so long as the cells and tissues which comprise it act in co-operation one with the other. An individual cannot live if, among other functions, the heart does not pump blood to circulate through the body or the lungs do not supply oxygen, or blood does not reach the brain. Food must be broken down and digested so that the ingredients necessary to replace worn tissue and the supply of vitamin and mineral needs to the body is assured—the whole process of co-operation within the individual. Man's life can only continue so long as his bodily function are co-operative — in short, where there is biological harmony.
The above brief look at man as an individual leads us to examine him as a social being — one who lives in a group, subject to the demands and pressures of modern society. The nature of this society is based upon economic conflict. That is, the strivings of one class, (the capitalist class) to maintain and extend its economic supremacy and control over the working class by virtue of its ownership of all the means of wealth production. Man, as a member of the working class, is something less than a man — he is a commodity to be bought and sold on the labour market, just as is a pound of sugar, a loaf of bread or a tube of toothpaste.
Inherent in this capitalist society is conflict between its component classes — the working class and the capitalist class. Concurrently with this is the existence of conflict between worker and worker, between capitalist and capitalist, whether individual, group or national capitalist. This conflict expresses itself in many forms. The struggle of the worker to obtain higher pay, lowered hours of work, improved conditions, or at best, the maintenance of his present conditions of life. For the capitalist class this conflict expresses itself in price-cutting, trade rivalries, search for markets, new methods of production, tariffs, Common Markets, preferred trade agreements, sanction, embargoes and, finally, force of arms — war.
This struggle is the direct outcome of the economic basis of capitalist society, that is, the ownership of the means of life by a small minority and the consequent enslavement of the majority, the working class, a society whose existence is dependent upon the production of commodities for sale and profit, a society where competition, aggressiveness and rugged individualism are lauded and exalted as the finest of virtues. This conflict is apparent in the misery surrounding us, in the unemployed, the hunger amidst abundance, the anxiety over losing one's job, in industrial strife, in criminality, prostitution and its attendant evils, in nationalism, war, etc.
This condition exists because man's social organization is built upon a division based upon private property and its relationships, with its consequent innate conflicts and antagonisms. This malady is as easily curable as a tooth-ache from a decayed tooth—remove it and the pain ceases. Remove the private property basis from our society and replace it with common ownership in the means of life and we will enjoy a society which is socially in harmony with man's biological necessity. Biologically man can live only by co-operation economically and socially he will be forced to cooperate if he is to survive.