Editorial – Ending the Profit System

The capitalist system of production for profit is well past its sell-by date. It has developed the forces of production, even if at the cost of immense human suffering, to the point where they are sufficient to adequately provide for the needs of every man, women and child on Earth.

Capitalism has become an impediment to further human progress. It always was based on the economic exploitation and deprivation of the majority, but, having outlived its usefulness, it has become a threat to all humanity. It has already caused two world wars and the ever-present threat of another, and now threatens disastrous climate changes due to global warming.

Capitalism developed the forces of production by extracting a surplus from those who produce wealth. Under the pressure of its own uncontrollable market forces, most of this surplus was accumulated as capital invested in plant and machinery that expanded society’s capacity to produce wealth.

Production for capital accumulation was never a rational aim for human society. That would be production to satisfy the material needs of its members – production directly for use, not for sale and profit.

If we had to design from scratch a human society that would best serve the interests of all its members, it wouldn’t be one where natural resources and the instruments to use them were owned by just some members of society while the rest worked for them. It wouldn’t be a society in which this privileged minority was forced by economic laws beyond anyone’s control to use its profits to accumulate more and more capital. It wouldn’t be a society where wealth was produced purely for sale, and where the majority were forced to find paid employment to get money to buy what they needed. It wouldn’t be a class society and it wouldn’t be capitalism.

It would be one where the means of life — natural and industrial resources — would belong to no one but be available for society to use to satisfy the needs of its members. One where things would not be produced for sale and only provided to people who could afford to pay for them, but for sharing amongst all society’s members according to their needs.

Of course, society is not designed. It evolves. Some in the past did imagine such a communal society but they were before their time. Now, however, the forces of production have developed to the point where a society of common ownership and distribution according to need has become possible.

To end the profit system, all that is now lacking is the will to do so on the part of the vast majority who do all the useful work in society. To make the change, they will need to organise to win political control, dislodge the owning class, abolish class ownership, and allow the aim of human society to become the natural one of satisfying its members’ needs in the best possible way.

Next article: Pathfinders: Fancy a chat, GPT? ⮞

Leave a Reply