A simple Exposition
By Wm. A. Pritchard, 1972
To all the oppressed and exploited of the earth
The term, Socialism, is one of almost universal usage. Everywhere one hears various
and opposing views as to what it means. Politicians, talking of “Law and Order”, or
other conveniently contrived issues, often accuse their “opponents” of being socialists.
Promoters of social reforms – pension for the aged, better and cheaper housing for the
workers, etc., – also present their programs as socialistic.
This article offers a view of socialism which can be set down as follows:
(a) An Economic Analysis of the present social system – Capitalism.
(b) A Scientific view of Historic Development.
(c) A Philosophy of Life.
(d) A visualization of a possible future social system more humane and harmonious
than any that has yet appeared, based on Production for Use, and not for Profit.
This concept of socialism as a possible future society is one wherein the means of
production and distribution will be socially controlled and democratically administered,
where use not profit is the objective, where the needs of humanity are deemed
paramount, with sale for profit eliminated. One must then see this as a social system
where the present means for facilitating exchange, money, will become superfluous.
In light of that description it would seem advisable to declare what socialism is not,
although the supporters of these claim them to be such.
Granted the foregoing we must conclude that the following, all of which claim to be
socialist are definitely not so:
(1) Russian state capitalism, with its authoritarian monolithic structure and
regimentation, its production for production’s sake, its capital outlay and capital
accumulation, and its wage-labor.
(2) The People’s Republic of China falls also into this category. (Interesting to note that
these two alleged socialist countries are at daggers drawn, not because of announced
ideological differences, but because of naked economic interests.)
(3) Cuba, Yugoslavia and Albania, although differing superficially, also belong to the
(4) Sweden’s so-called socialism with 93% of its industries under “private enterprise” is
(5) The British Labor Party and similar organizations in other countries are not socialist.
All claim to be able to reform capitalism in the interest of humanity and to make the
system work better than their political opponents.
Assuming that you accept the definition of Socialism as given here, the question arises:
Do you think such a system is desirable as well as possible? Or, as you view modern
society with its vast complexus of apparently insolvable problems, its many protesting
dissidents and discontents, do you consider it to be necessary? An affirmative response
to both these questions is important – especially the second – for if one is not convinced
of the necessity for social change, further discussion is merely academic. I am not
interested in those who view a study of the socialist case as a mere form of intellectual
exercise. Such a position is of far less consequence to society’s problems than is the
work of an entomologist studying the behavior of bugs. At least the entomologist is
motivated by purpose. However, having merely assumed that socialism is desirable,
possible, and socially necessary, let us, for the time being, dispense with these
assumptions, recognizing that they are of no account without a body of supporting
evidence. We ask again: (a) Is a social change desirable or possible; (b) Is it socially
This requires, first, that we possess ourselves of some knowledge of what we wish to
change. And this calls for an acquaintance with the history (development) of what now
is: Capitalism. This can be more definite than any view we take of the second question:
Is it necessary? For here we are dealing with what has happened, and, consequently,
find ourselves in the realm of actuality. With the second question, however, since it
deals only with a view of what could be, we enter the area of possibilities and
probabilities and any conclusions we arrive at must necessarily be speculative. In this
area, because of its speculative character, an even greater amount of supporting
evidence is demanded. Back to our first question then: Is it desirable and possible? This
requires a consideration of what capitalism is, its development, its accomplishments –
the social advantages it has created and the social progress it has made, and into its
present decline and decay with the destruction of the dignity of the human being and its
repression of man’s creative and artistic potentials, its anti-social tendencies, and its
II. Capitalism - it’s “positive” side
A few centuries old, Capitalism emerged from a static, clerical, feudal society into one
of voyages of discovery, of exploration and conquest of foreign lands, into one of
burgeoning trade. Following the voyages of discovery of Da Gama, Columbus, De Soto,
Magellan and others, trade bloomed tremendously and the initial steps were taken for
the development of regional markets into a world market, and the capitalist system from
a European (chiefly) restricted economy into an ever-expanding world-wide system.
It must be admitted that capitalism, historically considered, is a higher superior social
system than any of its predecessors. It broke the restraints that Feudalism placed on
society’s productive forces and thereby developed the increasing productivity of labor.
It destroyed handicraft and established the factory system where workers labored
together as teams rather than as individual craftsmen. The artisan became a mere cog in
a socially operated machine – his skill was transformed to the machine in the factory.
Through experiments, innovations and inventions labor has been made social in
character as against the individualistic character of former years. One must also admit
the rapid increase of labor’s productivity, particularly that Western Capitalism has
provided the highest levels of living known to man.
In transportation alone we have witnessed in a life-time the advance from the stage
coach and horse and buggy to horse drawn cars on metal tracks, these superseded by
steam and (later) electric cars. I have here mentioned steam which through its discovery
and application to industry via the steam engine did away with former sources of
industrial power, the water-wheel and the windmill. The steam engine when first used
in industry was stationary. In the early days of the last century, it was made mobile and
the locomotive engine appeared on the industrial scene. With this came the rapid
development of railroads until much of the earth’s surface was grid-ironed with them.
Steam also replaced wind as a motive power on ships and the stately windjammer was
made obsolete – the tramp steamer and the “dirty British coaster” carried produce over
the seven seas. The diesel-electric, superseding the steam engine tripled the length of
freight and passenger trains, making rail transport more efficient and more economical.
Add to this modern air transport.
Long prior to this produce had been transported on the waterways, the rivers, lakes,
gulfs, etc., of the old world. These ante-date the Christian era by several centuries,
being used as means of communications, etc., by the Assyrians, Egyptians, Hindus and
Chinese. The royal canal of Babylon was built around 600 B. C., and the 650-mile
Grand Canal of China, connecting Tientsin and Hangchow was begun in the 5th century
B. C. France was the first European country to develop an inland waterway system in
the 17th century. Russia developed a canal system in the 18th century, linking what is
now called Leningrad with the Caspian Sea. Sweden completed its 280-mile long Gotha
Canal in 1832. The first canal in England was built in 1134, during the reign of Henry I,
since which time some 4700 miles of canals have been built in Great Britain and
When Vasco Da Gama sailed down the western coast of Africa and, rounding the Cape
of Good Hope, discovered an all-water route to the Orient, trade was greatly facilitated
making obsolete the route upon which the prosperity of the Italian ports depended. In
1869 a canal was cut through the Suez Isthmus and a shorter all water route to the
Orient of some thousand miles less made the Cape of Good Hope route unnecessary for
that traffic. In 1894 the Manchester Ship Canal was completed making that inland
centre of cotton goods manufacture accessible to ocean going cargo ships. And then
came the cutting of the Panama Isthmus, joining the Atlantic ocean to the Pacific,
obviating the long and arduous sea trip around the Horn. By these means was the
capacity of transportation increased, production and distribution of goods made
cheaper, and social advance made possible. We leave untouched the waterways of
Canada and the United States – sufficient has been described for our purpose. These
developments made possible easier and quicker communication and cut the time
necessary for world transportation. Together with this growth came the telegraph
followed by the telephone and radio, by means of which messages were more efficiently
and quickly delivered. So the processes of production and distribution were speeded up
and trade flourished accordingly.
One could enter many areas to show how capitalism rapidly improved industry,
providing an ever increasing volume of useful vendible goods. Without doubt this was a
great social advance. It should be noted here, however, that this increasing volume of
goods, while useful, was nor produced primarily with this usefulness in mind, but for
sale on an ever-increasing world market with profit as the ultimate objective. The main
question before any promoter of a new article, etc., is: will it sell?
From simple factories powered by windmill and water-wheel to the use of steam,
capitalism has developed huge plants with fast moving assembly lines, employing
thousands of workers in each plant. Today this mere mechanical production is giving
way to the electronic and the use of the computer. All this means, as time goes on, more
and more wealth will be produced with less and less labor. The button-pusher replaces
the skilled mechanic.
One thing is definitely revealed as we study capitalism in its genesis and growth.
Problems which once confronted society have disappeared. In times past famine
occurred because not enough could be produced or conveniently transported. Capitalism
has developed the forces of production to the point where an over-abundance now
becomes the source of human distress. Famine and want are with us today as a result of
too much production. Those in greater need invariably lack the purchase price. Yet the
fact stands out: Society can with its present means of producing useful goods supply an
abundance for all. Famine (shortage) can become as obsolete as the windmill and the
water-wheel. The means exist that can make this abundance for all a living reality. But
this is prevented by the very structure and nature of the capitalist system. “Production
for sale” is the obstacle. Capitalism, however, should be credited with having so
developed the means of production and increased the productivity of labor that this
abundance can be apprehended. No previous society carried within it this potential.
Much more could be said but we permit ourselves a look at one other area – Capitalism
has demonstrated its superiority over previous systems. The development of sanitary
engineering has eliminated the open midden as a receptacle for human waste. It has
given us “indoor plumbing” and produced equipment for sewage disposal. And it has
provided this together with many other social benefits of which peoples of Feudal times
could never even dream.
From an in-depth view of the rise and growth of capitalism one is able to perceive
tendencies, certain potentials – most of which cannot be brought to full growth because
of the competitive nature of the system – which unfolds a view of a possible alternative
to what now is. It is capitalism itself, as it develops, which produces this view of a
possible future society, with a system motivated by producing “the greatest good for the
greatest number”. In short, a system of production for use. Does not this justify the
conclusion that Socialism is not only desirable but possible?
The foregoing picture presents, in skeletal form, the accomplishments and achievements
of capitalism, and constitutes what I call its “positive” side. This presupposes that there
is another side which I call its “negative” side.
III. Capitalism - it’s “negative” side
In the preceding section a rather sketchy outline of the development of capitalism was
given, and that only of that side of capitalism which I have called “positive” – its many
achievements and accomplishments which certainly carried society to a higher
productive level. Having conceded this, a question confronts the serious student: Were
these many social advances produced in an atmosphere of harmony, of “Peace and
Goodwill”, of general social well-being? The answer must be a definite “No!” This calls
for a view of the other side of capitalism which I call the “negative” side.
From the days of its emergence as a social system capitalism, in its desire for increase
in trade and its urge for profit, has been ruthless and relentless, smashing
indiscriminately any obstacle which stood in its way. From its earliest days onward the
capitalist class has, of itself, been one of many conflicting and hostile divisions. Its
only completely unified stance has been that of unmitigated opposition to that class
which it exploits, the working class. By this exploitation the wealth, increasing trade,
yes! all the great advances were made possible. The history of capitalism has been one
of piracy, chicanery and fraud, the invasion of “foreign” lands and the subsequent
subjugation of native peoples. The efforts of conflicting capitalist groups to secure trade
routes, establish spheres of influence, and control sources of raw material for its
manufactories has led to bloody conflict – horrible wars with death and destruction to
From the military conflicts in Europe of the 18th century to the Napoleonic of the early
19th war has been the order of the day. The Boer war of the late 19th century, in which
young Britishers, themselves not possessing the privilege of voting, went “fifty
thousand horse and foot . . . to Table Bay” to compel Oom Paul to grant the franchise to
the Uitlander. That, at least, was the reason given. Britain thus acquired the area known
as South Africa. At about the same time the new rapidly developing capitalist class in
the U. S. A., in the Spanish-American war, acquired Cuba and the Philippines, and set
out on its journey of “Manifest Destiny”. Prior to this Britain having destroyed French
control in Canada brought that country within its political orbit. Australia, used as a
huge prison for transported convicts, also came under British control. And then there
was India, Burma, Malay Peninsula, etc, etc.
What should be stressed here is that all the various national groups were in almost
constant conflict over the acquisitions of colonies, etc., and these disputes led to war.
Many of us today are contemporary, not only with the Boer war and the Spanish-American, but have witnessed two great global conflicts, World Wars I and II, and a
vast number of so-called marginal (little) ones, such as that now taking place in S. E.
Asia, in which already a greater number of much higher destructive capacity bombs
have been dropped on a small largely jungle country than by all the combatants in the
destructive second World War. And the Vietnam war, at this writing, is still with us.
To recount the ravages, the slaughter of human beings and destruction of cities and
villages, with their ancient irreplaceable art works would require volumes. The reader is
aware of this so this brief description can be left to speak for itself.
Yet the wholesale destruction of life and of nature’s assets, the horrors of capitalism’s
wars, are at least paralleled by its horrors of peace. Its exploitation of labor, with its
concomitant periods of unemployment, is even more destructive of life and the earth
itself than that of war. Is this not sufficient to call for a condemnation of so destructive
and brutal a system? Does not this suggest that knowledge and understanding be
developed so that this social horror might be ended?
Mention was made in the previous section of some of capitalism’s achievements. For
example: Its progress in sanitation with a consequent aseptic society. But this has been
negated by contrary achievements: the creation of almost world-wide pollution of the
air, land and waters through a galloping technology which has produced huge industrial
plants in most countries spewing their nauseous fumes into the atmosphere and onto the
land. The U. S. A., the country which has developed capitalism to its highest degree,
reveals a land when first occupied by the white man as a vast virgin territory, clean and
unpolluted, rich in natural resources: fresh water in abundance, hills laden with
minerals, forests with an almost unlimited timber supply, and a great expanse of arable
land. Yet in the course of a little more than two centuries the streams, rivers and lakes,
and that supposedly great aseptic agent, the ocean, are now polluted to the point of
being almost irrecoverable. Minerals have been wrenched from the earth by the most
destructive methods in the urge for quick and big profits. Copper mining and the “strip”
method in coal have left a horribly scarified landscape almost unusable for agriculture.
Forests have been raped and millions of board feet of lumber sacrificed in the process.
The once abundant game life has, in many instances, been reduced to extinction, as also
with many varieties of fish.
All this social loss has taken place during the growth of a nation not yet two centuries
old, during which time there has been a gigantic increase in population, an almost
unbelievable expansion of industry, accompanied by a technology not dreamed of even
fifty years ago. And the greatest proportion of this technological advance has been
during the last two decades. During this less than two centuries of capitalist
development in the U. S. A., there has taken place, of necessity, the founding of many
towns and cities; the once open plains are dotted with them. And most of the cities are
monstrous replicas of the first horrible “Main Street” ever built. In some cities, unique
in location, or outstanding for some other reason, a few spots of beauty and a few works
of Art, etc., appear, but all it can be said that the cities of the U. S. A., are ineffably
dreary. At best none carry the tradition and beauty, the works of Art, etc., observable in
the countries of the “old” world. And new though they be, capitalism has furnished
them, not only with its monstrous pseudo-architecture, its collection of “tracts” (usually
gerry built on horizontal cuts on its hillsides), but it has produced slums and ghettos in
all of them that put those of the “old” world into the shade. “Old” world city slums were
developed over centuries; those of the greatest and wealthiest country on earth have
appeared practically overnight.
It may be argued that undue emphasis has been given to this; that the commonplace is
over stressed. Other areas could have been examined for this purpose, which is to
indicate that capitalism, in these late days if its development, does not encourage the
blooming of man’s creative artistry but thwarts it, and does so because of its insensate
drive for profits. It is revealed in all its nakedness as destructive, anti-social and
anarchic. Modern capitalism also displays many apparent anomalies, e. g., great wealth
and great poverty. And the greater the wealth the greater the poverty.
What then is the cause of these conditions? Whence springs pollution, destruction of
man’s Art works, the destructive war and the horrors of peace? Let us look into the
system itself, note its structure and character, and, perchance, we may find the answer.
What must strike the serious student as he attempts to analyze this system is that it is a
divided society, a society of orders or classes, a predatory society existing on pillage
and fraud; that as a predatory society it must also be one in which cooperation (socially)
is absent, and therefore one of disharmony and conflict, domestic and foreign. We
perceive the manner in which the necessities of life, for instance, are produced. And it is
here, in the mode of production and the social relationships which that mode establishes
that the answer can be found. We noted that this society (capitalism) is a divided one, a
class divided one, basically one of a master class and a wage working (slave) class, a
ruling class and a ruled. In short, a class which owns and controls the machinery of
wealth production, and a class which has no connection with that machinery except to
operate it. This working class is dispossessed insofar as these means of wealth
production are concerned: its only asset is its physical and mental ability to work. This
working ability is called labor-power, the power to labor.
In that period of human development called civilization we observe three distinct
(generally) social formations: (1) Chattel Slavery; (2) Feudalism; and (3) Capitalism.
The relationship of master to slave under Chattel Slavery was that of an owner to his
horse. As the horse supplied some service and in return received his hay and oats and
stable so also the chattel slave. And, usually, the slave was considered valuable. He
represented an investment and if lost had to be replaced. In Feudalism the relationship
was not so direct. The Feudal Lord owned the land; the serf was attached to the land
upon which he labored, and thus produced his own sustenance and a surplus which went
to the Lord of the Manor. Despite this apparent difference to chattel slavery the
relationship of master to man was basically the same. In capitalism, however, this slave
relationship is obscured. The wage-worker is a “free” agent. No master holds him as a
chattel, nor feudal lord as serf. This modern worker is free and independent: he has
choices. He can dispose of his services to this or that capitalist owner, or he can
withhold them. But his freedom is ephemeral. He must sell his working ability to some
one or other employer or face starvation. His slavery is cloaked under the guise of
When the modern worker has found a master he receives in return for his labor a price
known as wages or salary which represents on the average what is necessary for his
sustenance so that he can reproduce the energy to go on working, and also produce
progeny to replace him when his working days are over. During the working-day the
worker produces wealth equivalent to that for which he is paid wages, but this does not
require all the time of the working day. In providing for his own keep he has also
produced a surplus and this surplus belongs to his master. This may eventually be split
into profit to the manufacturer, rent to the landlord, and interest on capital invested by a
financier. As capitalism develops the time in which the worker produces his own keep
decreases while the surplus accruing to the capitalist increases. During this development
the productivity of labor increases at an accelerating tempo: The worker continually
produces more with less. This increased productivity – much of which has occurred in
this century, and in the last twenty-five years – demands that the industrial plants of all
capitalist countries belch forth an increasing volume of vendible goods, not only for
domestic sale but for sale in foreign lands.
It is this foreign trade, and the cut-throat competition that accompanies it, that compels
these countries to establish what is called foreign policy. So the diplomatic clashes
which occur from time to time between the countries of these competing trading groups.
But not always are these competing groups of different nationalities; they exist side by
side in the same country. Witness the struggle, for instance, of American auto
manufacturers: General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, etc., to place their cars in foreign
markets. Witness also, domestically, the strenuous competition between detergents,
cosmetics, cigarettes, toothbrushes, furniture, clothiers, etc., etc., each of which is
boosted as the best and first. This “dog eat dog”, “devil take the hindmost” principle
pervades all areas of the commercial world. This anarchy is also disclosed in the effort
to successfully dispose of goods in foreign markets. Thus opposing national groups
come into conflict in this attempt on the part of each to establish supremacy. Since
national governments, as the highest political expression of these conflicting economic
interests, must necessarily use their power, diplomatic and otherwise, to protect and
promote their national capitalist groups, conflicts arise between nation and nation, or, as
we have seen in this century, between groups of nations as against other groups. And
when diplomacy fails steps in the direction of war are taken.
President Woodrow Wilson hit the mail on the head when, in a speech delivered in St.
Louis, September 5, 1919, he said:
“Why my fellow citizens is there any man here, or any women – let me say, is there any
child here – who does not know that the seed of war in the modern world is industrial
and commercial rivalry?”
And another President (Eisenhower) forty-three years later, said of S. E. Asia:
“Now let us assume we lost Indo-China – if Indo-China goes, several things happen
right away. The Malay Peninsula, the last little bit of land hanging on down there,
would be scarcely defensible. The tin and rungs ten we so greatly value from that area
would cease coming . . .” (emphasis added).
“All of that position down there is very serious to the United States, because finally if
we lost all of that, how would the free world hold the rich empire of Indonesia?”
What is this “rich empire of Indonesia” which Eisenhower openly – as against the
hypocritical statements of many politicians claiming the S. E. Asian expedition as one
to establish democracy and give liberty to a backward people facing aggression –
acknowledges to be the big plum that must be plucked? It is more than a two-thousand
mile stretch of archipelago with its western island, Sumatra, constituting the southern
shore-line of the Straits of Malacca, to the north of that the area we know as Indo-China. It is an immense territory, probably richer in raw materials – oil of the highest
grade, an abundance of minerals, etc., than any comparable territory in the world. This
was the chief reason for giving support to the corrupt Saigon administrations of Diem,
Ky, and now Thieu.
Eisenhower speaks further. Appealing for appropriations to Saigon he stated:
“So when the U. S. votes $400 million to help that war, we are not voting a give-away
program. We are voting the cheapest way we can to prevent the occurrence of
something that would be of a most terrible significance for the U. S., our security, our
power and ability to get certain things we need from the riches of the Indonesian
territory and from S. E. Asia” (emphasis added).
Some students of history missed completely what Eisenhower saw so clearly: the
central importance of Indonesia to the American military adventure in Vietnam.
It might be said that this receives undue attention in a short work such as this. Perhaps!
But it is deliberate. The S. E. Asian conflict in which the world’s leading capitalist
power is so deeply involved is current. It is still with us and it may be so for some time.
The callous butchery, the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians goes on, as does the
steady wiping out of entire communities. This is capitalism in defense of its prescriptive
rights and in its search for raw materials and new markets. Many comparable instances,
however, involving other nations could be cited throughout the entire span of
“By their fruits ye shall know them.” And on that basis capitalism can be judged. Its
vast production of wealth is offset by the consequent production of staggering poverty.
Its amazing galloping technology (with its indoor plumbing and sewage disposal) is
negated by its pollution of the air, land and waters. (There are many experts in the field
who declare unequivocally that, continuing as we are, forty years is all the probable life
Capitalism’s cities, despite their apparent affluence, carry the blight of their stinking
ghettos. Its rapidly moving assembly lines in its industrial plants, continually being
speeded up, make their attendants mere automatons – robots with stultification of their
intellectual and cultural growth as a consequence. Its great industrial output – the
economic volcano of the Ruhr Valley for example – is not a steady unbroken process.
Periods of so-called prosperity are followed by periods of adversity, of widespread
unemployment. Its booms are followed by its busts. And as a consequence, distress and
starvation face millions of workers throughout the world.
The picture here drawn is what I term “capitalism’s ‘negative’ side”. And it seems to
me this “negative” (destructive) side so overwhelms its “positive” (constructive) side
that common sense alone would demand an alternative.
In these rather sketchy descriptions of the development and nature of capitalism herein
presented the effort was made to show the “positive” side of capitalism. That it had
solved the age-old problem of scarcity through its rapid development of society’s
productive forces and, along with this, produced a tremendous increase in the
productivity of labor; that development and increase resulted in an ever-increasing
volume of vendible goods, with the creation of a world market; that in this progression
it had developed agencies and created machinery whereby the distribution of such
goods was enhanced. It has made abundance for all possible. Further it has created
potentials whose nature and function foreshadow possibilities for much greater use in a
future society wherein these potentials could be developed to their fullest. The growth
in logistics indicates there should be no cause to fear the absence in such a society of
the necessary distributive agencies. In the modern army logistics have been developed
to a high degree, and in this alone appears the potential for a satisfactory distribution of
society’s products. It is the highly destructive competitive nature of capitalism which
prevents the full growth and use (for society’s good) of these agencies and potentials.
From this “positive” side of capitalism it can be argued that a higher and better
organized social system, a system of “production for use”, in which the instruments of
production and distribution will be socially controlled and administered is not only
desirable but possible.
Thus every person who accepts the concept of a new society being both desirable and
possible becomes one who is liable to reject the notion that the present system is either
desirable or eternal. In all probability he would reject the idea that capitalism is the
completely satisfactory arrangement for modern society. Such person would not be
inclined to “buy” it – to use a modern term. And when a sufficient majority no longer
“buys” an idea or institution that idea or institution tends to die of inanition. The broad
support giving validity to their existence has been withdrawn. They no longer receive
general public support. But mere acceptance of desirability or possibility does not carry
with it any conception of a dynamic capable of effecting social change. This brings us
to a consideration of the last question: Is this social change necessary? But first we
should review the “negative” side of capitalism.
Here we find its creation of great wealth and abysmal poverty; its advancing technology
accompanied with general pollution; its raping of the earth’s resources and its
conspicuous waste of human energy; its destructive wars followed by periods of
contrived peace; its efforts to establish markets by which act, if successful, it sows the
seeds for the possible growth of a competitor. It cannot erase the pollution it has created
even with a vast outlay of capital which would offer no return. This would be contrary
anyway to capitalism’s nature. It cannot obliterate the city ghettos it has made; it cannot
do away with the periodic unemployment its alleged prosperous periods create; and
despite its many achievements it cannot produce permanent peace for it is ever faced
with the possibility of war and on so huge a scale that such might result in the
destruction of humanity itself. It cannot, in short, act contrary to its own inner nature
which requires the constant accumulation of capital and the opening of new markets
throughout the world. And it cannot avoid that increasing productivity of labor which
means more production for less expenditure of labor.
One should not condemn it on “mere” moral grounds. It must be viewed as a necessary
phase of historic development in which the forces of production have been greatly
developed, and thus has performed a useful function in advancing society productively.
But it can go no further in this direction. Its usefulness to society has been outlived and
only its destructive features remain. And from this standpoint alone it must be
concluded that a change is necessary.
The reader whom I assume accepts the desirable and possible concepts can now be
asked: Do you consider socialism necessary? The question is all important – or rather
the answer is – for if one considers socialism desirable and possible but has reservations
as to its being necessary then such a person’s position is merely academic and of no
social consequence. These can be left in the blissful glow of their rather useless
The concerned socialist will centre his attention on those individuals who not only
accept socialism as both desirable and possible but further and more important conceive
it to be a possible way of preserving and advancing humanity. Time and energy on any
others would probably be unfruitful.
Anyone accepting the concept that socialism is desirable and possible and necessary
will soon discover that he belongs to a minority, a fact which is obvious from the social
consequences were conditions reversed. He will therefore recognize that as an
individual he can do but little except endeavor to keep his own mind clear. But in
concert with similarly minded individuals he may do a little more by trying to persuade
others, through logic and simple explanation, to an acceptance of his position. He will
furthermore become conscious that every person so persuaded means one more has
come to reject modern capitalism as a satisfactory social order, and, conversely, one
more who considers socialism to be vitally necessary. But it is assumed that our contact
is aware of this, and also finally of the possibility of developing a majority which no
longer “buys” society’s present ideology or institutions. This work of quiet education,
of persuasion, may be long and arduous and accompanied with many disappointments
and frustrations. But it is a very necessary work. Our contact must further understand
that socialism cannot be established without socialists and this requires an ever-increasing dissemination of knowledge, not merely in those areas which we consider to
be “The Socialist Philosophy”, but in the Arts and Sciences, as also in the realms of
engineering, organizing and planning. Mention has been made of potentials appearing
in modern society which cannot come to full growth because of the restrictive character
of this competitive system. The possibilities for social good in apprehending and
allowing full use of such potentials freed from their present restrictions are many, and a
socialist majority need have no fear as to the ability of the engineers and scientists of
The reader who has had contact with socialists and socialist propaganda may have some
knowledge of discussions among socialists on what are theoretical or doctrinal points.
He may have heard of “The Labor Theory of Value”, the “Theory of Surplus Value”,
the “Tendential Decline of the Rate of Profit”, or “Necessary and Unnecessary Labor”,
etc., etc. This short pamphlet has deliberately avoided reference to, or discussion of,
these, for this writer holds that the acceptance of socialism as being desirable, possible
and necessary is of prime importance. Without this acceptance disquisitions on History,
Philosophy, Economics, etc., are but a beating of the wind. The interested individual
accepting this prime requisite for a socialist can be left to further his knowledge by an
inquiry into these. They are necessary for a grounding of the student in the “Socialist
Philosophy”. And through a diligent study of these areas of socialist knowledge the
inquirer may discover validity in my initial statement of what Socialism means. In
Economics he may find it to be “An Economic Analysis of a social system –
capitalism;”; his study of history may show it to be “A Scientific View of Historical
Development”, (known as The Materialist Conception of History). He may find that his
newly discovered knowledge and his changed opinions have set him in a different social
setting than most of his fellow workers and that it is indeed “A Philosophy of Life”.
And last of all he will know that it is “A Visualization of a Possible Future Society”.
I stated this as being one facet of what we understand as socialism At the beginning of
this article, as follows: “(d) A visualization of a possible future social system more
humane and harmonious than any that history has yet produced, based on ‘Production
for Use and not Profit’”.
A very natural question here arises: “If one can visualize a possible future society then
one should be expected to tell something of what that society will be like”. And so one
should and so one can, but only within certain limits and with many reservations. Man
ever has set himself goals and created ideals. He strives to reach such goals and achieve
such ideals. Not always (indeed very rarely) does he succeed completely. He may at
times hit the target but seldom the bullseye.
In making projections into the future one should realize that one is dealing with the
realm of speculation. Where a definiteness of opinion can be allowed is in the realm of
the actual: what is and what has been, for these can be subjected to close inspection,
research and analysis. With the future the best we can hope for is to observe trends in
the present and the creation and development of potentials, etc. These can be projected
as trends into the future scene which may grow to greater potentials and into actualities
that may become definite powers, agencies and institutions. We must beware of
dogmatism when dealing with the future. Science does not deal in certainties but in
high probabilities. It does not depend on clairvoyance or astrological forecasts for its
findings. Nor does it admit the prognostications of economic determinists, who tell us
that this shall be and that shall not be.
Yet, notwithstanding what has been stated, one must allow that Science, in its ever
restless search for greater knowledge, must permit itself flights of imagination, so to
speak, for lacking these it would hardly venture on those essential journeys into the
future. In much the same way a socialist speaks of “visualizing a future social system”.
Science does create for itself what are termed “working hypotheses”; that is to say, it
presumes certain things to be so, and for the purpose of establishing a point of departure
for definite scientific inquiry it takes its hypothesis as established fact. Of course it
recognizes that this at best is speculation but proceeds to then gather data that may
prove, or disprove, such hypothesis. In the same way we permit ourselves certain
speculations and in so doing “we visualize a future society which will be organized for
public good”. But we must never lose sight of the fact that these are speculations, but
like the “working hypotheses” of the scientist can be considered valid to the extent that
such speculations arise naturally out of our knowledge of the past and the present – and
in the absence of any contrary body of facts.
The question is thus put “How will production and distribution be carried on in this
visualized possible future society?” And, dealing with what we know now, of what is
and what has been, peering as well as we are able into the future, all we can honestly
say is: “Production and distribution will be carried on as they are now but with the
exploiter of labor, the master class, off the scene”. But surely by then society will have
gained greater knowledge of more than these points. If we can imagine socialism being
established, say, tomorrow, the same agencies (but without the self-perpetuating
“bureaucracies”), the same techniques, etc., will carry out the necessary work. But those
potentials of which we have made mention will no doubt by the time socialism has been
established have been developed to a higher degree, the technology of society so
increased yet controlled, that the work could be carried out with a greater efficiency,
with waste eliminated, and greater social benefits accruing.
The potentials we now observe also indicate that since production will be for the social
good and not for profit wage-labor will disappear and therefore wages (that badge of
modern slavery). Goods being distributed on the same basis and not sold for profit
money would become superfluous. “Production for Use” being the objective of social
effort, “distribution”, as such, would be carried out unrestricted by any elements of
“exchange”. Thus the socially wasteful efforts represented in banking, insurance,
brokerage, etc., would perforce be eliminated. Since society would require from its
members contributions to the social welfare “according to each individual’s ability”,
and return to each “according to his needs”, those economic rivalries – which even such
capitalist spokesmen as President Wilson and President Eisenhower claim to be the
cause of modern war – would have become things of the past. The disappearance of
these hostile elements would allow the development of more humane and harmonious
relations among people. Poverty, as we know it will have gone; industry – whose
technological development has produced world-wide pollution – could be so organized
and operated that further pollution could be avoided and the present pollution
eliminated. It is safe then at least to predict that war and its horrors would have ceased,
poverty done away with, and a really sane world “created” fit for human habitation.
As to the precise character of the apparatus – the necessary agencies, institutions, etc.,
that will be developed, – that surely will have to be the work of those then present. That
is the future, but what to us is the “future” will be to them the “present”. They will not
be living in the realm of speculation, as we are, but dealing from their greater
knowledge of what “is”, and what “has been”. It would be sheer presumption for us “of
the present” to specify in detail what they “of the future” shall or shall not do and
dictate the form their operations should take. I defy the wisest to tell me the precise
condition of the world a year hence, or even a month. Did the great conqueror of Europe
in the early days of the last century, Napoleon, foresee “Waterloo”? He had the
advantage of all the knowledge he had acquired during his military ventures. Or Hitler,
stamping his foot in triumph as he dictated his humiliating terms to France, see the
disaster of the underground shelter in Berlin that became his tomb? Nor can we afford
to be too definite, or dogmatic, about the future. Nor should we. The important thing
now is to try to convince others that a new society is desirable, possible, and necessary.
When an adequate majority so convinced, and dedicated to the necessary work, is
assured then that society which we envisage will become an actuality. The details of
that society can be, and should be, left to those then concerned.
Finally, a word of caution. Many dissidents and discontented today, unable to see any
redress to their grievances, resort (sometimes persuaded by agents provocateur) to
violence: breaking store windows, burning banks and institutional buildings (foolishly
so doing as they argue that these are symbolic of the system, or, as they phrase it, of the
“establishment”). Noisy demonstrations are staged and politicians, many of whom only
recently elected by sizeable majorities, are made the target of their fury. Wicked men
are responsible, not the capitalist system. Until – as a comrade of mine once put it –
they “stop shouting long enough to do a little thinking” they will only be ploughing the
The scientific socialist is in complete opposition to violence in any form. From the
standpoint of a minority in society it is self-defeating and can only produce counter
violence, a situation often desired. And sometimes contrived by – the “constituted”
authorities. The only time we could assure ourselves of its effectiveness would be when
it is unnecessary. And that would be when a sufficient and intelligent majority insisted
on the establishment of a Socialist Order.
Los Angeles, Calif., September, 1972.