Abolish the Wages System and …
One short way of presenting the aim of the Socialist Party is to say that we wish to abolish the wages system. Four words of course cannot say everything, but their implications are very wide-ranging in terms of the kind of society we stand for.
This is because the wages system is at the very heart of capitalism. The vast majority of the population have to work for an employer in return for a wage or salary, or have to rely on someone else who does so. Even many so-called self-employed are in practice in a similar situation, as they also need to work for a living. But socialism will do away with this: do away with being forced to perform work that is often boring or dangerous or pointless, and that is undertaken at the behest of and for the benefit of the employer. Instead, the principle of ‘from each according to their ability’ will apply: people will do work that, as far as is possible, will be made interesting and challenging and rewarding and varied and useful, with working hours reduced from now.
Doing away with employment and working for a wage will also involve a fundamental change to how society is organised. Under the present system, the reason why most people have to do waged work is that this is the only way they can get access to the money needed to pay for food, housing, etc. A small minority of the population (less than one in a hundred) own and control the means of production, the land, raw materials, machinery, factories, warehouses, offices, shops and the rest, while those not in this elite group are forced to work for them. This is known as a class division: the capitalist class own the means of life, as is sometimes said, while the working class do not own them and so must work for the capitalists. Abolishing the wages system will imply putting an end to this class system, with its attendant inequality, poverty and exploitation.
Working for an employer involves working for the employer’s profits, which is how the capitalists become so wealthy. Production, then, takes place to make a profit, so only goods and services that are likely to result in a profit will be produced. That’s why there can be unemployed building workers while at the same time there are people who are homeless or living in crowded or substandard accommodation: building homes for these people will simply not be profitable. But ending the wages system, employment and production for profit will mean that houses, along with everything else, will be produced in order to meet human need. It sounds like a simple idea, but it will have major consequences for how society is run and how people relate to each other. It also means that there will be no making goods that are substandard or even dangerous. And with no employment, there will be no unemployment, nobody trying to survive on meagre state handouts.
And if goods and so on are produced to meet human need and wages no longer exist, it will follow that money has no role and there will be free access instead. If you want some fruit and veg, just go along to your local shop (or whatever name is used) and take what you want. Obviously you aren’t going to take more than you need. The same will apply to other foodstuffs, clothes, DVDs, books and all the rest. People will not need to pay to use the train or bus, or to visit the dentist or go on holiday. There may — especially at first — have to be restrictions on free access, perhaps for housing, but ensuring that everyone has a decent roof over their heads will be a priority. The general principle here will be ‘to each according to their needs’.
There will also be no role for government, which nowadays exists to serve the interests of the capitalist class. Administrative functions, such as mending potholes or providing public libraries, will still exist, but the vast machinery of armed forces, police, courts and prisons will have no place. Without a wages system and class division, there will be no rulers, no elites or privileged people, no inequality. People will just work together for the common good.
A society such as this will not be able to exist in just one country, but it will not be international either, as this would imply that nations still existed. Rather, it will be global, with no countries or borders or passports or visas. One worldwide system, without wars, where environmental and climate-related issues can be addressed properly, with no interference from considerations of profit.
So abolishing the wages system does not just mean doing away with your wage packet or salary advice. It also means there will be no employment or classes or money or government or countries. This will therefore have tremendous and entirely positive results for the whole planet and all its people.