The Profit System
Very few people would deny that the present state of the world leaves a lot to be desired. Humanity staggers from one crisis to the next – from war to famine to slumps to repression . . . Capitalism has developed a huge productive capability but its social organisation and relationships cause extremely serious problems and render it incapable of meeting the basic needs of its people.
A vast amount of the world’s resources is expended in the production of weapons of war, from bullets and bayonets to nuclear and chemical weapons. Alongside these weapons are the armed forces which every state organises, clothes, feeds, trains and deploys. This is a massive waste of human effort; it is all intended to be destructive and none of it to create anything useful to human beings.
In a world which could produce more than enough to feed and care for its population millions are homeless and tens of millions die each year because they don’t have enough to eat or for lack of proper medical treatment. None of this is necessary. It happens while farmers in Europe and North America are being paid to take land out of cultivation; from time to time even food that has been produced is destroyed or allowed to rot. This makes sense to the profit motive; in terms of human interests it is wildly insane.
The environment is increasingly under threat from pollution and from the destruction of some of its natural, ecologically vital features. We hear well-informed warnings of an ultimate impending disaster unless we act to eradicate the problem but these warnings are always met with the objection that to save
the environment can be a costly, profit damaging business. Yet it is not necessary for industry and agriculture to pour out noxious effluents into the air, the earth, the rivers and the seas. They do this today because pollution is seen as being cheaper, which means more profit friendly and to a society where profit is the dominant motive for production that is justification enough to override human welfare.
These are a few examples of how capitalism works against the interests of the world’s people. In contrast, as the articles in this issue explain, socialism will have fundamentally different social relationships, motives for production and concepts about the interests and security of human beings.
All the programmes at present being advanced by the professional politicians for dealing with the problems of capitalism through reforms must fail because of their essentially piecemeal approach. They attempt to treat symptoms instead of going for the basic cause. That is why, after a century or more of reformism the problems the reformists claim to deal with are still here.
A far more radical, fundamental change is needed to create the framework within which they can be