Why We Need Socialism
Socialists wants to replace the present capitalist system with a new system based on common ownership instead of ownership by the few and with production directly to meet people’s needs instead of production for sale on a market with a view to profits. In such a socialist (or communist) society – the two words mean the same – money would be redundant. It’s not so much that we want to ‘abolish money’ as wanting a change to a society with a system of production and distribution in which money would be redundant and so would disappear.
Capitalism is the system which now dominates the world. No country escapes or can escape from its influence and effects. It is essentially an economic system where the means for producing useful goods and services take the form of ‘capital’, or wealth used to produce more wealth with a view to profit, and where the goods and services produced take the form of ‘exchange value’, they all have a price and have to be exchanged for money.
The farms, factories, offices and other places where wealth is produced are owned and controlled by rich individuals, capitalist corporations and states. Under the pressure of competition, those in charge of these ‘units of capital’ are driven to seek as much profit as they can, not so much for the personal benefit of the owners (though this does come into it) as to get funds to reinvest in cost-cutting innovations so as to be able to compete with, and out-compete, their rivals. One consequence of this is that more and more capital is accumulated. This in fact is what capitalism is all about: the accumulation of more and more capital out of profits.
So, over time the means of production and their productive power have built up and society has now become able, in theory, to produce enough useful goods and services to meet people’s needs. But the economic mechanism of capitalism does not let this happen. Making profits and re-investing them as more capital always comes first.
It’s an irrational system of ‘production for production’s sake’, of ‘growth for growth’s sake’. There are other antisocial results of capitalism. Such as the recurring economic crises and slumps like the one we’re in now. Such as the wars and preparation for war that occur as capitalist states compete over sources of raw material, trade routes, markets and investment outlets. Such as putting short term cost and profit considerations before protecting the environment and respecting a balance of nature. Above all it does not allow production to be geared to meeting the needs of people for food, clothes, housing, healthcare, education an the other amenities for an enjoyable life.
People’s needs are met but only to an extent – to the extent that they have money to pay for them. There are various ways an individual can get money. They can inherit it (be born with it). They can steal it. They can beg for it. Or they can work for it – which is what most people do.
What sort of society is it where most people have to fend for themselves to get money so they can access what they need to live – and where, even in a developed country like Britain, 10-15 percent can’t keep up and are forced to rely on more or less meagre handouts from the state? This, when, from the point of view of technology, society could produce enough for all, especially if we get rid of capitalism’s artificial scarcity (the need to make a profit holds back producing enough to meet people’s nees) and its organised scarcity (not just of wars and preparation for war, but also all of the resources devoted to the counting and transfer of money).
Socialists say capitalism must go if we’re going to be able to provide a decent living for every man, woman and child on the planet.
What is needed in place of capitalism is for the Earth’s resources to become the common heritage of all. Then, they could be geared to satisfying people’s needs. If productive resources were commonly owned, then so would what they produced. The issue to be dealt with would be, not how to sell to people what had been produced (how could you when they’re already the joint owners of it?) It’s how to share-out/distribute what’s been produced. In other words, exchange (buying and selling) is replaced by distribution (sharing-out and taking). For this, money is not needed.