How do we get there?
There is a growing realisation among many critics of capitalism that the way to enact radical change in how society is organised is not to recommend or campaign for improvements in or reforms to the way the market system is organised. This is for two reasons. Firstly, the extent to which the capitalist system can be modified to the benefit of the majority, whatever the political setup, is strictly limited by the dictates of the market and its profit imperative. Secondly, policies or action based on the ‘lesser evil’ of reforms inevitably mean putting off the demand for post-capitalism, properly understood as a money-free, non-market society, and effectively pushing it into the background.
Having recognised these ways of acting as pitfalls which, though they may have minor beneficial effects in the way people’s lives are led under capitalism, should be put aside as solutions to most people’s condition of dispossession, disempowerment and alienation, the question is how do we transcend all the false hopes and endless plans for improvements that the ‘in the meantime’ reformists – often with the best of intentions – throw at us?
‘Socialism’ is a difficult word to use in talking about post-monetary society, since it means so many different things to different people. But, defined as a ‘system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community’, as we have done consistently since our establishment in 1904, emphasising that this will mean the end of production for sale with money becoming redundant, gives it not only a clear meaning but also a clear political focus missing from many of the attempts to see post-capitalism as somehow developing outside politics and political action.
These attempts may involve participation in or support for decentralised small-scale communities seeking to put into practice cooperative non-market activity to the extent that the surrounding capitalist reality allows it. They may involve pushing for reforms which they see as steps in the direction of post-monetarism, ‘non-reformist reforms’ as they are sometimes called. They may involve seeing the moneyless society as arising from some form of gradual phased transition over several generations as plans for its operation are laid out incrementally.
The difference does not lie in the aim of establishing a moneyless, non-market, democratically run society of common ownership and collective production for direct use but, more specifically, in how to get there. While not condemning small-scale attempts at cooperative social organisation, even if these are not the solution, we stress the urgent need to promote democratic majority political action at society-wide level, ideally via the ballot box, to win political control as a prerequisite for the majority to be in a position to put into practice, in cooperative and democratic fashion, the precise details of the organisation of a non-market moneyless system of society. Only then will humanity be in control of its destiny.