Socialism: Restating what you should know.?

Socialism is not some thought-up ideal system of society. It is the practical alternative to the existing capitalist society of minority class ownership and production for a market with a view to profit. The problems that capitalism generates for humanity as a whole and for the majority class of wage and salary workers in particular arise from its very nature as such a society. Production for profit by competing enterprises (whether owned by rich individuals, corporations, the state, or even cooperatives) inevitably gives rise to market forces that impose the rule that making profits has to come before meeting needs.

As a result, housing, education, health care, transport and other needs are inadequately met, while at least ten percent of the population in the advanced capitalist parts of the world are deprived even of basic necessities (in other parts of the world it is much higher). In addition, society is more and more commercialised with market values encroaching on human values such as solidarity. On a global scale the pursuit of profits has led to enterprises adopting productive methods that are leading to global warming and climate change. Production for profit involves conflicts of economic interest between competing states that lead to wars, at least one of which is always going on in some part of the world.

In other words, capitalism inevitably produces inadequate services, deprivation, commercialism, pollution and war. These problems are never going to be solved as long as capitalism lasts.

The only way out is to move on from world capitalism to a global society of common ownership, democratic control, production to directly satisfy people’s needs, and distribution on the principle of ‘from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs’. Only within such a framework can the problems that capitalism causes be effectively and lastingly overcome. Human social evolution having evolved to where it now is, such a world socialist society is the only practical alternative to global capitalism.

Moving on to socialism does not mean that society has to be completely reconstructed from scratch. Socialism takes over from capitalism and in fact did not become a practical possibility until capitalist development had created the material basis and infrastructure for it in the form of a productive system technologically capable of producing plenty for all and an administrative system capable of managing the provision of public services.

Socialism takes over the means of production, by abolishing all sectional property rights over them, and uses them to directly produce, without the intervention of buying and selling, what people need, both as individuals and as communities. It takes over the state apparatus, lopping off its undemocratic and coercive features (it thereby ceasing to be a ‘state’) but retaining some of its useful administrative and coordinating functions. In other words, there is no need to abandon modern industry (only its ownership by rich individuals, corporations and states) nor to smash the state (only to transform it into an unarmed, democratic administrative centre).