Letter: Human Nature or Human Behaviour?
I enjoy reading your magazine every month. It would seem wherever socialism is tried it ends up as state capitalism, probably because socialism is opposed to human nature. Humans are greedy by nature and are lovers of money.
I believe money [guilty] of 95 percent of the world’s evils and problems and it will be money that eventually destroys the planet.
Like you I want a moneyless world based on the needs of all humanity and of course a peaceful world but again humans are aggressive by nature. How then do you change human nature?
D. Tandy, SITTINGBOURNE, Kent
Socialism has never been tried. State capitalism was indeed the result of the revolutions in Russia, China, Cuba and the rest but that’s what the revolutionists set out to establish and succeeded, though unfortunately they called it ‘socialism’.
There is no need to change ‘human nature’ – the gene-determined biological make-up of humans – as there is nothing in it that would prevent the establishment and operation of socialism
‘Human nature’ and human behaviour are two different things. What our biological human nature makes possible is for humans to engage in a wide range of behaviours. Basically, human behaviour in general is flexible and can and does adapt to the environment in which humans find themselves and/or are brought up in.
In conditions of material scarcity humans, to survive, need to acquire and secure what resources they can, even sometimes at the expense of others. Hence, in such circumstances, humans tend to behave in ways described as ‘greedy’, though for most of human existence most people have not been able to acquire much more than the bare necessities.
Capitalism is a system of artificial scarcity – the profit motive, or rather barrier, prevents the plenty for all that has been possible now for years from being produced – and so engenders behaviour that is ‘greedy’. As capitalism is a society where people have to buy what they need this takes the form of trying to get more money. But this is more as security against them and their offspring falling into poverty than a desire to accumulate more and more wealth for its own sake.
In a socialist society, where everybody will have a right of access to what they need to live and enjoy life, people won’t need to chase and accumulate money, if only because as you point out money will be redundant when there’s common ownership and production directly for use. In such circumstances, although people will still be concerned with their own survival, they won’t need to be ‘greedy’. After all, what would be the point of stockpiling things at the place where you live when you will be able to get them when you need them from the nearest store?
‘Aggression’ is one of the behaviours that human biological make-up makes possible, but it is not in-born and, once again, is a behaviour which manifests itself only under certain circumstances. It is certainly not a feature of everyday life. This is not a violent struggle of everyone against everyone else. No society could survive on that basis.
Organised aggression takes place between societies, and in class-divided societies between states, and arises from struggles over resources. In past societies it was between tribes for hunting grounds or between herders and agriculturalists. In capitalism it is a struggle between capitalist states over sources of raw materials, trade routes, markets and investment outlets which, when the vital interest of a state is at stake, leads to war. So far are humans from being aggressive by nature – natural killers of other humans – that states have to train people to be killers and engage in propaganda amongst the rest of their subjects to support wars and to regard those who do the actual killing as heroes.
In socialism there will be no competition over resources and so no drive that, when push comes to shove, leads to wars. The Earth’s resources will have become the common heritage of all humanity, to be used for the benefit of all.
A copy of our booklet Are We Prisoners of our Genes?, which provides the scientific evidence for what we say, is in the post. Anyone wanting a copy should send a cheque for £5 made out to “The Socialist Party of Great Britain” – Editors