1960s >> 1967 >> no-757-september-1967

Editorial: A World of Plenty

The material and technological resources exist now to allow production of plenty on a world scale. There is no need for any man, woman or child to go without adequate food or shelter. People are today deprived of plenty because the means for producing wealth are monopolised by a few and because wealth is produced for profitable sale. This artificial scarcity is maintained by force, deception and ignorance.

A society of abundance can be created just as soon as working people are prepared to make the means for producing wealth the common property of a democratic world community.

The Socialist Party exists to help the emergence of a conscious movement to create a society of abundance. We aim to convince people that such a society is possible; to expose the lies by which the present economy of scarcity is justified; and to oppose those organisations which help to maintain this artificial scarcity. We are opposed to all governments, all other political parties, to all nationalism, racialism and religion, to all wars and preparations for war, to all restrictions on the free expression of ideas.

Wealth is not produced in the abundance it could be. Much is wasted on weapons of war. Much is of low quality. Some is even deliberately destroyed. Wealth is not owned or consumed on any fair basis: a privileged few enjoy the best of everything while most have about enough to keep them alive and working; some don’t get even that. Why?

The bar to the rational use of the world’s resources to meet human needs is production for profit. As wealth is produced for profitable sale on a market production is geared to the market and not to human needs. Only so much wealth is produced as is thought can be profitably sold. To keep up prices and profits production is held back and wealth destroyed.

Production for profit on a world scale means universal competition: competition for markets, for trade routes, for sources of raw materials. For most of the time this competition is economic and peaceful. Every so often it involves the scientific killing and wounding of human beings and destruction of wealth that is called war. Always it means that states must devote a part of their resources to having the best armed forces and weapons they can afford.

People depend for a living on the few who monopolise the means for producing wealth. Their share of the wealth they alone produce is limited by the price they can get from selling their ability to work, a price that can never be much more than enough to keep a man and his family in efficient working order.

This scarcity, waste and want is not decreed by some supernatural being. Nor does it arise from nature. It is man-made and can be ended as soon as man wills.

It is said that there will always be scarcity as men’s wants will always outstrip the capacity to meet them. Men are greedy and compete against each other for the scarce resources. If social chaos is to be avoided men must be restrained by instruction (religion and morality) and by force (government and law). As some give more to society than others they should be rewarded with wealth and power. So runs the defence of oppression, inequality and privilege that has been used throughout the ages.

This argument is based on the myth than men have some unchanging nature that compels them to act in certain ways. But men are social animals. How they behave depends on the society in which they live. Throughout history and pre-history human behaviour, motives and wants have varied from society to society. There is no fixed human nature, only human behaviour in society. The argument that it is human nature that demands the oppression and exploitation of man by man stands exposed as a defence of the existing unnecessary oppression, inequality and privilege.

There is nothing in the make-up of men that would prevent their rational co-operation, without coercion and as social equals, to meet their needs. Men no longer need a social organ for governing and coercing people. For the smooth running of social affairs all that is needed is an unarmed, democratic administrative centre.