The socialist view of the future, our objective, is of the worldwide community having common ownership and democratic control of the earth and all of its resources. Common ownership of the machinery for production and distribution will make human need the sole motive for production. And because it will be the social intention those needs will be fulfilled to the very best of human ability. Problems will be tackled by the direct application of human skills to available materials unfettered by financial considerations.
It is not within our power to give details of how Socialist society will arrange its daily affairs. However we can show the broad scope of possibilities for human development when production is for use and people, without exception, have free access to what they require from what is socially produced. Socialism is not just about providing basic needs it is essentially a “whole life” concept.
A world community of common ownership and production for use will have quite different productive requirements to those of capitalist society, where the labour of the many is directed to the profit of the few. Gone for example will be the industries and activities concerned with war preparedness, the protection of private property, with buying and selling and the realization of profit. Nor will there be the waste of needless duplication of effort associated with commercial competition. It is likely that individuals will need to spend a comparatively small amount of time contributing to socially necessary work. Individuals will decide the nature of their own contribution.
Work will not bear any resemblance to employment now. There need not be a division between work and leisure. When Henry Moore, the sculptor, was asked a question about the likelihood of his retirement his reply was, that if work was not the one great thing in man’s life he did not see how he could perform the best that he was capable of. In contrast many people now mentally “switch off” and enter a fantasy world while at work.
In Socialist society work that is necessary and tedious or dangerous will be done by machinery, and in any case shared. Though where the only consideration is to produce the best that is possible some work that is now highly mechanized, e.g. in agriculture, may more effectively be carried out with the minimum of machinery.
There is no reason to project the existing division of occupational interests into Socialism. No one need be committed to one job for life! We will not be Dockers, Miners, Entertainers, Administrators etc. but human beings who will co-operate to work in the ways best suited to their own, and society’s, interest. Different kinds of work will have equal status. Those engaged in administration (“of things”) or acting as delegates will simply be making a necessary contribution to the well being of society. Even if there were any motive for them to act in an anti-social way they would be subject to the democratic control of those who appointed them. The needs of society will not be decided by miners, bakers etc. but by the community as a whole. In practice some decisions will have to be made on a world-wide basis, for example the co-ordination of food production, while others will be local. Any suggestion that workers acting in Unions or workers’ Councils should control society misunderstands the whole concept of Socialism. The category of workers will not exist.
The manner in which Socialist society will operate is inseparable from the means to obtain it. It could not be run without the conscious participation of its members. Such a system cannot be given like a present by leaders, however well intentioned. Nor can it arrive by accident, as it were, while workers are engaged in industrial strife. The great majority of the working class must come to the realization that it is the combined efforts of their class which runs capitalism, albeit in the interest of the capitalist minority. When they have acquired this mass understanding they will change society, not by downing tools but by taking positive political action to convert the means for production to the common property of all mankind.
Our enthusiasm for the Socialist future may appear to give a rosy picture, particularly when compared to the nightmare that is capitalism. We do not in fact claim perfection, only the infinite advantage of a social system geared to human need.