A Better World For Everyone
TO AIM for a better world, we first have to explain how our present society is arranged. For the last few hundred years, society has been divided into just two main groups, or classes. There’s the overwhelming majority of us – possibly up to 95 percent – who don’t own much in the big scheme of things and can only get what we can afford through our wages, savings or state subsidies. If we’re able to find employment, we get our money by selling our time and our abilities to companies and organisations. These same companies and organisations then sell the services we run and the products we make back to us. But collectively, we don’t get back all that we put in. It’s a lop-sided arrangement in favour of the corporations and land owned by a tiny minority of people, around 5 percent. Owning the means of production allows them to cream off a profit or a surplus for themselves, and they do this by exploiting the rest of us. Their economic power is backed up by political power. The state is there to try and manage the status quo, and protect the interests of those with all the wealth. This doesn’t mean that they have control over the economy, though. Market forces fluctuate between growth and slump regardless of what politicians and corporate strategists want. Instead, they’re more likely to be playing catch-up and trying to keep things financially viable in a shaky economy. It’s like being on a fishing boat on a choppy sea, struggling to stay afloat while the boat’s owner relaxes on a desert island.
This arrangement leads to massive inequalities in wealth. Goods and services only go to those who can afford them, not necessarily to those who need them. Those who can’t afford the basics risk falling into a lifestyle of poverty it’s hard to escape from. Living in an unequal world where everything is rationed creates divisions between us, leading to prejudice and discrimination. Even if we’ve got a reasonable standard of living we never have enough real involvement or sense of ownership in where we work and live. We often feel powerless to influence what really matters to us. We end up stuck in unfulfilling jobs, stressed about whether we can afford to pay the bills, or frustrated by our lack of independence.
Other political parties support the basic way society is structured, or just assume it’s the only way things can be. They would say that it can be improved from within, by changes to the law, or finding more funding for public services. Reforms or increased public spending may help some people in the short-term. But they only last as long as they fit in with the economic and political climate, which runs in the interests of the elite. The needs and wishes of the vast majority of people aren’t as important. People have campaigned for higher wages, or increased funding, or protecting the environment, without long-lasting, satisfactory resolutions ever being found. This shows that the problems haven’t been addressed at their cause.
We would say that to solve society’s problems, we have to change the way society is structured. This means going from our world where the means to produce and distribute wealth are owned by a minority, to one where those resources and facilities are owned by everyone in common. Then, goods would be produced and services would be run directly for anyone who wants them, without the dictates of the economic market. Industries and services would be run just to satisfy people’s needs and wants. Our natural resources could be managed in a sustainable way, as the waste and short-term profitability which lead to environmental damage wouldn’t be there.
All this could only be achieved by fundamentally changing the way society is organised. As every country is part of a global economy, the vast majority of people worldwide would need to want to change society. The only legitimate and practical way this could be happen is by organising equally and democratically. This means voluntary, co-operative, creative work, with decisions and responsibilities agreed through everyone having an equal say. This would mean a much broader and more inclusive use of democracy than we’re used to. The Socialist Party is using what limited democracy we have in our current society to advocate a better world for everyone.