1960s >> 1962 >> no-689-january-1962

Self-Service

The self-service store, with which most of us are now familiar, has developed of recent years in response to the needs of Capitalism to reduce costs and increase sales. More people can get into the shop and out again, and at the same time buy more goods with less staff assistance than before. At the same time the high-powered retailing methods of modern Capitalism are used to the full. Everything is laid out to extract the maximum purchases from each buyer who enters the shop, right down to the little “likely to be forgotten extras” that are hung round the all-essential cash register as you pay your way out.
 
The purgative effect of sweet canned music on the pocket is used to release that loose change. If your memory is not so good, the psychologically timed repetition of a tape-recorded voice will remind you that whatever it is you are in dire need of, may be had at the toss of a coin. And so off.
 
What has this to do with Socialism? Let us get back to that cash register. Next time you walk into your local self-service store, imagine that Socialism is here. You walk in, take up one of the little wire baskets provided and put into it the things you want. Nothing could be easier or more logical. Now try to walk out. Not so easy. The check-out counter is guarded by the owners’ protection machine—the cash register.
 
This is where our little game ceases: no us: imagining it is Socialism now. The act of paying for the things you have collected round the store, is the all-important factor that brings us back to reality, and makes the difference between Socialism and Capitalism.
 
The means for organising “free access” are here. All you’ve to do is remove that formality at the check-out.
Ian Jones

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