Socialism at your fingertips

June 2024 Forums General discussion Socialism at your fingertips

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 37 total)
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  • #81154
    Gog_
    Participant

    After having a discussion with other SPGB members recently, we spoke of the need to open up socialism in every day aspects of people’s lives, I have had an idea-albeit an early one.

    The basic idea is to try and show people what is at the core of socialism: production by people for people without the right to resources/wealth being privatised in a market economy etc. Perhaps a good method would be to enable a group of people to come together in one way or another and to set out to produce their food. Pool the “labour”, work out a memorandum of understanding as to how work is laid out, what is produced/stored, how the problem of producing within a capitalist system of society would be trackled (the issue of money) etc. I am of the assumption that the most vital principle associated with such efforts should be that any amount of money/labour/wealth/resources inputted into the production does not provide for any more or less of a “right” to the resulting outcome of production.

    Of course, the actual infrastructure, logistics, methods of production etc would be an issue for those involved within the group until such period in time where other similar groups are more abundant and communicate to create a larger group so as to produce a much larger pool of production and the specialisation of production can be enabled and streamlined. At this point, the target of production would shift from immediate local need to the need of the larger group as a whole. 

    While this idea is a bit sketchy, I think it has the potential for people that really want to do so, to produce in this way. Granted there are all the elements of capitalism pressing down upon it, but, the point being that such food production would be ultimately geared towards hitting capitalism where it is most vulnerable: profit hoarding. If, over time, less and less time go to supermarkets et al for their food because they can get whatever they need from this means of production then we would be working towards removing a significant cornerstone of capitalism: the selling of food. 

    I would like to make it clear that this idea is not foolishly thinking of a time frame of a few months or years, but for however long is necessary. As long as there is the people with the right inclination and motivation I am of the opinion that such an effort is plausable.

    It would be a movement that would be easy to get on board with, agricultural transformation that would not be based on “governmental policy” or leaders. Not only would it provide an informal meeting place, a source of healthy living, a critical understanding of production/food, a practical alternative to spending a fortune in shops we don’t agree with but, hopefully it would also provide a catalyst for further consciousness of the majority and transformational change within society.

    I think that such a dynamic shift in the method of production could be important, practical and do-able.

    I would love to know if anyone has had any previous thoughts, current ideas, practical understandings related to this.

    #87867
    Gog_
    Participant

    * Read: ” If, over time, less and less time go to supermarkets ” as, “If, over time, less and less people go to supermarkets…”

    #87868
    DJP
    Participant

    The socialist party has held that socialism cannot exist in one country let alone one small holding.Copied from our FAQ

    Quote:
    One country cannot establish socialism. No country is completely self-sufficient in the resources people need to satisfy their needs. No country can really isolate itself from the rest of the world in a peaceful manner, so a peaceful “socialist nation” would be easy prey for the outside capitalist world. Just as capitalism is a world system, socialism will have to be a world system.

    What you are talking about would not be a demonstration of socialism as a system of production but a demonstration of a group of people within capitalism co-operating to run an allotment, something which I’m sure happens very often today and is not very controversial or significant to the question in hand.

    #87869
    Gog_
    Participant

    I also failed to mention that considering the group would be aiming to develop above and beyond localism and according to the requirements of such a target, anyone that applied their effort to the production would be able to take from the free store. This “effort” would obviously start with the actual growing of food but the types of effort needed would develop along with the volume of production. Later, a situation may arise where there is a need for complex logistics to allow for the production/distribution of stores, bringing new people into the group, development of production etc and so there would be more methods of applying people’s effort from doing physical work, to couriering, to nightwatch, to administration, to training/teaching and so on. So, as long as the people taking “out” put some degree of effort “in” they would be free to take from the store.  In reply to the above comment:I am fully aware that socialism cannot exist in one country, nor can it be in an allotment. Which, is why I state that the target would be to, over time and is practicable, to include the greatest amount of people as possible over the greatest area as possible. This way, people that do not necessarily wish/are able to do the physical “growing” there are other areas that area associated with supporting the production that allow for people to take from the store by applying their effort in a slightly different way but still towards the overall successful outcome of the production.How this is different to an “allotment” is that it would not be an allotment. It could be either hundreds of backgardens, or agricultural land on a greater scale-depending on how people decide. Initially, there would not necessarily be any great “controversy” or any massive impact upon capitalism-much as is similar to current attempts at removing capitalism. However, the idea would be designed specifically to act as a catalyst for development that would undercut one of the most significant tentricles of capitalism: that of selling food for people to live.If you eventually show people through practice that you can remove the “need” to buy all your food from people, then you show that you do not have to “buy” your energy off companies either, nor do you have to buy your clothes and so on.While people already know this and a great many of us already within the SPGB and similar organisations recognise that we are forced to engage in capitalism in order to survive, most people are not necessarily aware that we “need” to but we do not “have to”. Unfortunately, they lack a practical alternative that lies in front of their noses, especially when they have so many other distractions in their lives.What I propose is not some kind of wishy-washy grow-your-own attempt at providing a few vegetables for your salad a few months of the year but an attempt to show that people can easily work together, without profit as a goal, in a sustainable way to remove the need to have to buy food. At the moment, allotments are there for a small scale, either for the supplement of an invidual or a very small group’s consumption. What I propose is people doing away with growing in this way, but putting in effort to a production system that allows for the taking of free food.  An idea that needs developement but through adoption and adaptation not by pooh-poohing and outright dismissal.

    #87870
    Ed
    Participant

    I’ve had similar thoughts in the past. Unsuprisingly it’s already been thought of a long time ago. Proudhon had a similar idea where by workers would club together their money to buy up businesses and run them as co-operatives, once all the businesses had been bought from private hands we would be in socialism!There’s a really funny exchange between Marx and Engels on Proudhon’s plan which I’ll try and find for you. At least I remember it as being funny, Of course co-operatives have been tried within capitalism as far back as Robert Owen. Another example would be the Kibbutz movement in Isreal which I know one member has worked in and would be far more qualified to talk about than I would.I think I get where you’re coming from with this idea. At least for me, it was the notion that people need to see something happening before they’ll jump on board. However, ultimately it will be declining material conditions which will force people to look to revolution and socialism not a commune.

    #87871
    Gog_
    Participant

    Also, you state that it would be nothing “but a demonstration of a group of people within capitalism co-operating to run an allotment”.  It is arguable to state that the party and others are nothing other than “a demonstration of a group of people within capitalism co-operating to run a political society”. Considering that we cannot escape capitalism over-night, it is better to open up another front on the attack of capitalism rather than not.

    #87872
    Ed
    Participant
    Engles wrote:
    Now for something to amuse you. In his new, as yet unprinted book, which Grun is translating, [18] Proudhon has a great scheme for making money out of thin air and bringing the kingdom of heaven closer to all workers. No one knew what it was. Grun, while keeping it very dark, was always bragging about his philosopher’s stone. General suspense. At length, last week, Papa Eisermann was at the cabinet-makers’ and so was I; gradually the old coxcomb came out with it, in a naively secretive manner. Mr Grun had confided the whole plan to him. Hearken, now, to the grandeur of this plan for world redemption: ni plus ni moins [19] than the already long extant in England, and ten times bankrupt LABOUR-BAZARS or LABOUR-MARKETS, associations of all artisans of all trades, a big warehouse, all work delivered by the associes valued strictly in accordance with the cost of the raw product plus labour, and paid for in other association products, similarly valued. [20] Anything delivered in excess of the association’s needs is to be sold on the world market, the proceeds being paid out to the producers. In this way the crafty Proudhon calculates that he and his fellow associes will circumvent the profit of the middleman. That this would also mean circumventing the profit on his association’s capital, that this capital and this profit must be just as great as the capital and profit of the circumvented middlemen, that he therefore throws away with his right hand what the left has received, has none of it entered his clever head. That his workers can never raise the necessary capital, since otherwise they could just as well set themselves up separately, that any savings in cost resulting from the association would be more than outweighed by the enormous risk, that the whole thing would amount to spiriting away profit from this world, while leaving the producers of the profit to cool their heels, that it is a truly Straubingerian idyll, [21] excluding from the very outset all large-scale industry, building, agriculture, etc., that they would have to bear only the losses of the bourgeoisie without sharing in its gains, all these and a hundred other self-evident objections he overlooks, so delighted is he with his plausible illusion. It’s all too utterly preposterous. Paterfamilias Grun, of course, believes in the new redemption and already in his mind’s eye sees himself at the head of an association of 20,000 ouvriers [22] (they want it big from the start), his family, of course, to receive free clothing, board and lodging. But if Proudhon comes out with this, he will be making a fool of himself and all French socialists and communists in the eyes of bourgeois economists. Hence those tears, that polemicising against revolution [23] because he had a peaceable nostrum up his sleeve. Proudhon is just like John Watts. In spite of his disreputable atheism and socialism, the latter regards it as his vocation to acquire respectability in the eyes of the bourgeoisie; Proudhon, despite his polemic against the economists, does his utmost to gain recognition as a great economist. Such are the sectarians. Besides, it’s such an old story!

    it was an old story to Engels back in 1846!http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1846/letters/46_09_16.htm

    #87873
    Gog_
    Participant

    I understand what you mean when you talk of communes. However, what I am proposing is not a commune. It is a group of otherwise regular people living perhaps as ordinarily as they might have done previously, however, with an extra facet to their lives in so far as that they are apportioning a part of their daily/weekly/monthly energy output into helping to produce food for their own consumption and others. While I agree that declining material conditions will ultimately force people to look for revolution, there is always the danger that they will perhaps unwittingly get behind some other group or ideology, lead by a small leadership that seek to materialise their own ambition. It would be better, instead, to show to people through their own participation that another world is possible through their own work. Not necessarily a whole new world, compeletely alien to them-which many think socialism is due NK, China, SU etc.-but one where they can be directly in control of how things are done. While this idea may never overthrow capitalism completely, it is perhaps an aid to answering the consistent question of “well, socialism’s a nice idea, but, it’ll never work in practice”. If people can show by their own effort that they can usurp huge corporations by providing for themselves something so basic and simple as food then they may well just come to the realisation that they can actually have power over their own lives by taking real, democratic control over every aspect of their lives. This happening alongside the declining material conditions of a great many people in the UK can act as a real world example of casting-off the restriction of business, the state and capitalism to even a comparatively small extent where they can then develop their understanding and promote their consciousness to socialism. I’m not saying that it definitely will work, I’m saying it could work and we won’t know unless we try something. Just because some people attempted and failed with “communes” in the past, does not mean that there is no reason for trying to try something new now. Afterall, we say a similar thing when we correct others when they refer to Cuba, N.Kore, China etc as socialist and that previous “attempts” at socialist revolutions failed because of such and such. When they reply, “well socialism had its chance” we don’t all reply, “yeah, fair enough, you’re right, let’s not bother”. I’m aware there would be restrictions placed upon the group by capitalism such as how the party is with its payments for rent, tax and so on but we don’t call for it to be abolished because it cannot suddenly escape capitalism’s chains.

    #87874
    Gog_
    Participant

    I’m not saying anything about making money at all. I’m saying forget about making money. If you can get enough people together, with the right motivation and understanding, with the same bunch of goals in mind there is the possibility to do something much grander than what has been done before. If we can start off small for practical reasons and work up with the higher numbers of people involved, something successful could be achieved.I know that it wouldn’t work with a small number of people with a narrow goal of homestead self-sufficiency. What could work is a small number of people successfully producing what they needed, promoting the idea, framework, principles and then getting more and more people to do the same in a large-scale, linked network designed to provide for a production network increasing in scale. It could act as a catalyst for more change.

    #87875
    DJP
    Participant

    Gog, If you and some friends want to get together and grow some fruit and veg and share the produce then fine, go ahead be my guest.But if you think this is a magic path to socialism you are wrong.The fact is at some point the question of state power will have to be met and that is why it is necessary to organise politically.

    #87876
    Gog_
    Participant

    At no point have I stated that it is some magical path. Nor have I said it is not necessary to organise politically. I am stating that there is the potential to organise on another level and to ask if anyone has any similar or complementary ideas.

    #87877
    Brian
    Participant

    What you are suggesting is already being tried here:http://www.incredible-edible-todmorden.co.uk/ Its outcomes are with the exception of a reduction in anti-social behaviour difficult to quantify but its success in developing an intergrated, cooperative and coordinated project dedicated to localised food production are plain to see.  This particular template is rapidly being developed throughout the UK with some amazing results for community wellbeing and collectivity. It needs to be emphasised this is a project which involves the WHOLE Community with no exceptions!  I’m keeping a close eye on it to see what lessons can be drawn from it for socialists. 

    #87878
    Gog_
    Participant

    Cheers Brian,I shall take a look at the link you have provided.

    #87879
    robbo203
    Participant
    DJP wrote:
    Gog, If you and some friends want to get together and grow some fruit and veg and share the produce then fine, go ahead be my guest.But if you think this is a magic path to socialism you are wrong.The fact is at some point the question of state power will have to be met and that is why it is necessary to organise politically.

     But it is not an Either-Or thing is it?  I do wish people would stop thinking in these black or white terms.  Gog has a valid point. Equally valid is your point about the need to organise politically. These things can be seen as complementing, rather than detracting from, each other

    #87880
    Brian
    Participant

    Quite Robin.  All social revolutions require preconditions and prequisites and its foolish to dismiss practical examples which in some small way illustrate what is possible to achieve cooperatively, collectively and democratically.  Despite the barriers the Incredible Edible project is seemingly making headway in respect of production for use and free access.

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