What Does socialism Offer You?
At present we who are workers are employed by Trusts, like the Soap, Oil or Electric Trusts; by companies not yet combined into Trusts; by Governmental and Municipal bodies; and by private individuals. In each of these cases people who have more money than they require to meet their needs use what is over either to buy shares or to buy what may be called “means of production,” that is, machinery and whatever else is necessary to produce something that can be sold for a profit. This way of spending the surplus money is called investing capital, that is, spending money with the object of getting back more money that is paid out.
Nearly everything that we need to-day— food, clothes, and the rest—are produced by an organisation that has capital at its back, and therefore with the object of making a profit. That is why bad food is often produced, shoddy clothes are often made, houses that you can nearly blow over are often built, and the workers who produce the needed goods are paid such low wages that many of them spend the whole of their lives in a state of poverty that often takes away the wish to remain alive.
The Socialist intends to have all this altered. Instead of somebody, or some company, having to buy the machinery and other things before food and clothes can be made, he says, let the land and machinery belong to the whole of the people, and let us arrange things so that some will make machinery, others will plough the land, some will go down in mines, others will drive the trains, and so on. As each took an equal part in making what we all needed so each would take an equal part in using what was made.
Now if we had such a state of affairs we would only make the best things we could, and we would make them in the best way. Everyone that could would take his part in making things, so that they would be neither rich unemployed nor poor unemployed. Everyone would take his part in eating, drinking, and wearing whatever was made, so that there would be no one in poverty. As there would be no milkman or baker wasting his time going up streets where milk and bread was already being supplied; no travellers wasting their time trying to get business away from another traveller; no bill posters, printers, and others wasting their time printing and pasting up lies about different kinds of goods; no enemies without or within for young men to waste years in armies, navies and other services in the “noble art of war,” there would be no lack of hands to make everything that was needed, of the best material, and in the best way.
Now people will say it is very silly to write in this way, as the idea of everyone working together in such a manner is impossible—each will want to get the lion’s share of what is made and do as little as he can. When, however, everyone understands that by not doing his part either in the work or the consuming he is only hindering the producing of things, and therefore, in the long run, doing himself an injury, then there will be, in the main, neither slacking nor greediness. Besides, there will be so little work for each to do and such an abundance of things to be got that these inherited vices will soon disappear.