2020s >> 2020 >> no-1390-june-2020

Editorial: Socialism hasn’t failed – it’s never been tried

Capitalism is robustly defended by its supporters as being the most successful social system in human history. We are told that it has raised human living standards to unprecedented levels and surpasses any other society in terms of productivity and efficiency. It is meritocratic and promotes human ingenuity and enterprise. It is claimed that socialism, on the other hand, has failed wherever it has been practised – the former Soviet bloc countries, Cuba, Venezuela and not to mention the former nationalised industries in the West.

It is certainly true that capitalism has revolutionised the productive forces of society. Indeed this fact is an important part of Marx’s analysis of capitalism. A prominent argument of scientific socialism has always been that capitalism has developed the means of production to the point that makes possible a society of potential abundance.

Capitalism is not just about private companies and banks, it is an economic and social system, where the means of production and distribution are owned and controlled by a minority to the exclusion of the majority, the working class. This minority can comprise private individuals, the state or a mixture of both. The working class can live only by selling their labour power to the minority capitalist class, whether private businesses or the state. What workers receive in wages is less than what they produce, leaving a surplus (which includes profits) for the capitalist class.

It is true that some workers, either through education or other means, can rise from a relatively low-paid job to a higher-paid salary position. They may enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle and higher social esteem, but, like all workers, their working conditions and employment prospects are subject to the whims of the marketplace and they may find themselves out of a job if it is not profitable for their employer to keep them on. It is not unknown for a worker to make it into the capitalist class. However, the dice are loaded against the workers, as a lot of money is required up-front to start a business and securing finance is not easy if you are not from a rich background. Even if a worker succeeds in business, their new-found wealth will be produced by the workers they employ.

Socialism hasn’t failed. In fact it has never existed anywhere. What we witnessed in the so-called ‘socialist’ countries was not socialism, but state capitalism. The nationalised industries in the West were capitalist enterprises owned and managed by the state. Socialism, properly defined, is a classless, moneyless and wageless society established globally without national borders. It won’t be governments or leaders that will bring it about, but a socialist conscious working class organised on a world scale to capture political power and convert private or state property into common ownership. Humans, at long last, will be free of the constraints of the market system. The employer and employee relationship will be gone, and people will be able to take freely of what they need and contribute according to their ability. Humans will be free to realise their true potential. We urge workers to join us to bring this about.


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