What Socialism Means
Socialist society will differ fundamentally from today’s society by producing enough to provide all people with the amenities of modern life. Basically these amenities are: housing, food, clothing, education, health care and entertainment. These amenities will be the best that society can produce and will be freely available to all.
Society does not provide for all now simply because its economy (the way it produces things) is geared not to producing what people need but to producing profitably what they can afford. This presents no problem for some, since they can afford to pay for the best of all they need. But there is only a small number of people in this position. The overwhelming majority are limited in what they can afford by what they earn in wages or salaries, despite the fact that it is they who do the producing. This is because the minority who have access to the best are those who own and control the means of production, i.e. farms, factories, offices, machinery.
In Socialist society, however, ownership and control of the means of production will be by society as a whole. This will enable production to be directed in the interests of the community on the basis of what they need. Since today’s science and technology give us the potential to provide enough for all, there will be no need for money (or barter); people will simply take what they need. With modern methods of market research, stock control, statistics and electronic computing, the means by which the needs of society can be determined are already available.
To ensure that society will provide enough, people will, as now, need to co-operate to help produce it. But with the disappearance of money at least half of today’s work becomes unnecessary, e.g. accountants, cashiers, ticket collectors; and with the elimination of commercial competition, this could be reduced further.
Consider, for example, the wasted effort today in producing a simple household article. Whilst there are basically only two types of washing powder — soap and detergent — there are more than a dozen “brands” produced. By eliminating the profit motive production need only concentrate on producing the best of both. This would save the wasted effort now spent in producing numerous similar brands with proliferation of packaging, delivery vans, drivers, etc.
Thus, with the removal of unnecessary work coupled with full use of automation, necessary work if “shared out” on a shift basis, need occupy much less of the individual’s time than it does today. Now that the findings of biological and anthropological research back up our contention that human beings would readily and harmoniously co-operate together, given the favourable conditions that would exist in a Socialist society, people will work according to their ability on a purely voluntary basis, and so replace the existing wage and salary system.
As with science and technology, capitalism has, out of necessity, developed methods of organization and administration which Socialism can use and further refine. At the moment there are local councils, national and international organizations such as the World Health Organization, much of whose administrative work would be essential to Socialist society. The difference will be in their use solely for administering things rather than governing people. It is to these organizations that people will elect their delegates ensuring democratic control of society.
As production and its organization already take place on a world-wide scale, with each country dependent on others for resources and skills. Socialism will need to be a world society. But Socialism will differ by replacing the existing conflicts and confrontations between nations, caused by economic rivalries, with a single harmonious society uniting people of the world in cooperating for the mutual benefit of all.
Realizing this new society democratically requires the majority of people to express their desire for it with the vote. What stands before us at the moment is the immense task of telling the majority of people about it. This is where YOU can help us!