1960s >> 1967 >> no-754-june-1967
Letters: Administration in Socialism
I was interested to read A. C. Ben-Yosef’s query in the February issue about how you expect Socialism to come about, and your outline reply.
I gather you expect production and other important functions to be administered by gigantic corporations, rather on the lines of the present-day General Motors, Shell etc., except that they will be socialistic and ‘democratically controlled.’ Could you please tell me how you expect this democratic control to operate?
For example, to take an analogy with a present-day capitalist problem, supposing that a new source of gas or oil is found and the relevant corporation wishes to develop it for use, and for this purpose to build a refinery. If there is objection to this refinery being built at all the feasible sites by small numbers of local residents, do you envisage that it will nevertheless be built?
To put the matter more generally: in the society you want, will ‘the public will’ be sometimes used to force compliance on uncooperative (as opposed to any sick and socially harmful) individuals ?
Perhaps we did not make ourselves quite clear in our reply to A. C. Ben-Yosef. Our reference to giant corporations was merely to try to show that even under capitalism, some international organisation can operate; but these corporations would not exist in a Socialist world. Instead, the world would operate as one productive unit, with the means of life owned and controlled by the whole of society.
There would then be harmony of interests and full cooperation between people everywhere, for the sole criterion of production would be the satisfaction of human needs. Society would apply this acid test when considering productive resources, whether these were fields, factories, or gas and oil plants.
In talking of local objections, our correspondent has projected capitalism’s conditions and outlook into Socialist society. Today, yes, there are many conflicting interests which push for elbow room when a plant is sited. Capitalists’ concern for maximum profits and lowest costs, householders fearing devaluation of their property, workers hoping for jobs, and so on, all of which would not be relevant to Socialism. True, there could be differences of technical opinion, but these could be resolved by further research and the fullest discussion, before reaching a decision. And with man’s architectural and engineering skills given full rein, there’s no earthly reason to fear that industrial buildings need mar the landscape or pollute the atmosphere.
Perhaps there will be some who still disagree with the rest, even after all the views have been aired. Well, they will be expected to (and we think that they will) accept and implement the majority decision, while reserving the right to argue against it at any time. Even remotely assuming they were still not prepared to cooperate, the majority project would still go ahead.