The Case Against Capitalism
Things are not produced today to meet people’s needs. They are produced to make a profit. And that’s the cause of the problems we face.
Under the profit system profits always come first. Before providing basic services like health care and transport, before improving conditions at work, and before protecting the environment.
Look at the results. The health service is crumbling. The transport system is in chaos. Pollution is rife and the environment under attack. The poor have got poorer. Begging and homelessness have spread. Crime is rising. Racism is reviving. Business culture reigns supreme, with ‘market force’, ‘competition’ and ‘profit’ as the buzzwords.
Life is becoming more and more commercialised and empty. People are becoming isolated from each other, with drug abuse and mental illness on the increase. The standard of living may have gone up a bit for some, but the standard of life is going down.
Under the profit system production is in the hands of profit-seeking business enterprises—whether state or privately owned—all competing to maximise the rate of return on the money invested in them. Decisions as to what to produce and how much, and how. and where to produce it, are not made in response to people’s needs but in response to market forces.
The health and welfare of the workforce and the effects on the environment take second place. This is why at work we suffer speed-up, pain, stress, boredom, overwork and accidents. This is why we have to work long hours, shiftwork and nightwork.
This is why the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe are all polluted. This is why the Earth’s non-renewable mineral and energy resources are plundered. This is why natural balances are upset and the environment destroyed.
If we are going to improve things we are going to have to act for ourselves, without professional politicians or leaders of any kind. We are going to have to organise ourselves democratically to bring about a society geared to serving human needs not profits.
Production to satisfy people’s needs. That’s the alternative. But this is only going to be possible if we control production and the only basis on which this can be done is common ownership and democratic control. In a word, socialism.
But real socialism, not the elite-run dictatorships that collapsed a few years ago in Russia and east Europe—that was state capitalism, not socialism—nor the various schemes for state control being put forward by the Labour Party again. We are talking about a world community without frontiers. Only on this basis can world poverty, hunger and the destruction of the environment be ended.