The Socialist Cooperative Commonwealth 2/8

The cooperative commonwealth is realistic. We understand that most people have little interest in making a revolution next week or that making one will be easy. Far from it. Many are daunted by the task and search for short-cuts that only result in dead-ends. But if we are serious about achieving socialism, then we have to start about it now. It isn’t going to drop from the sky. The longer we wait to begin acting for ourselves the longer it’s going to be till we achieve our aim. Too many people are used to letting others run society for them. Sure they might get indignant over corruption or a particular war, but it’s fair to say that their actual involvement in changing anything is pretty low.

 Cooperation is so fundamental to the existence of society that we don’t even think of it as cooperation: it seems simply “natural” behaviour. Thus it is normal for two people to move to the side when passing on the footpath, normal to queue for admission to the theatre or sports ground, normal to hold the door open for the person entering behind you. We are an intensely social species who become aware of ourselves as individuals by interacting with our fellow human beings. From the recognition of humans as social beings flow our view on organisation. Workers join unions because they realise that they are better off cooperating with workmates rather than competing against them. All forms of production of goods and services involve cooperation — often by people thousands of kilometres apart. It is the reason why capitalism, itself, depends upon cooperation: the simplest factory couldn’t operate without it.

Historically, capitalism has greatly increased human cooperation by making production a national and international process. But capitalism also creates contradictions to cooperation. There is cooperation in the factory, but the factory competes against other factories in the same industry. If a single company controls an industry and imposes cooperation, it competes against producers overseas, and against other industries for resources, finance and higher profits. So capitalist cooperation is usually wasteful (duplication of efforts, destruction of losing competitors). It is also imposed from the top — not brought about by the free decision of those who do the cooperating. The real alternative to competition is the freely decided cooperation of working people: cooperation to produce the needs of all human beings, not higher profits for a minority. A major problem with capitalism is that it is based on the concentration of economic power in the hands of a small elite unaccountable to the rest of us. Economic systems are not limited to this choice, however. There is another way, referred to variously as socialism, communism, social democracy, the resource-based economy, anarchism, or the cooperative commonwealth. We need a people’s movement to democratise the economy.

To substitute common, for private, ownership of the means of production and abolishing the present system of production means substituting production for use for production for sale that is the economic development the World Socialist Movement urges. The WSM’s objective is the social or cooperative production for the satisfaction of the wants of a commonwealth. Mankind has always been a social being, as far back as we can trace ourselves. Until the present system of production (production for sale) was developed, cooperative production for common use was the norm.

The World Socialist Movement is well aware that socialism is a term little understood by the world at large, and that it is everywhere a target for denunciation by the media. Yet when analysed, it means cooperation instead of competition; common ownership of land and all the means of production and distribution. It is the coming of the cooperative commonwealth to take the place of wage slavery. The present capitalist system is not only a failure, but it robs, it degrades, it starves; it is a foul blot upon our civilisation; it promises only increased horrors. The world is ripe for socialist transformation. Socialist education is being conducted throughout the length and breadth of the land to furnish the information whereby to arrive at the correct tactics for the conquest of the world for the workers of the world. We aim at a new society – the socialist commonwealth.

There is no such thing as politics without projecting ideas about the future. The only difference is that those who predict that things will always remain the same do not know that they are making a prediction. The reformists dream of the establishment of social peace between the classes, between exploited and exploiters, without abolishing exploitation but instead by exercising self-restraint  and by the giving up of all “excessive” and “extreme” demands antagonisms which exist between the worker and capitalist would disappear. It is impossible for a socialist to share this illusion of the reconciliation of classes. Social harmony shall come about by the ABOLITION of classes. The leading principle of socialism is the overthrow of the capitalist system, and the establishing in its place of a cooperative commonwealth.

Being socialists, we are therefore for the labour movement and as trade unionists, we value unions very highly, but we should never side with unions who adopted an anti-socialist attitude. Effective unions will never exist till the workers are revolutionary socialists, just as effective political action can never come till the people are thoroughly class-conscious and are fully determined to stop all robbery by moulding present-day capitalism into the cooperative commonwealth. We ask the working class to organise with us to end the domination of private ownership — with its poverty-breeding system of unplanned production — and substitute in its place the socialist cooperative commonwealth in which every worker shall have the free exercise and full benefit of his or her faculties.

Individual production makes individual ownership necessary. Large-scale production, on the contrary, means cooperation or social production. In mass production the individual does not work alone, but a large number of workers work together to produce a whole. Accordingly, the modern instruments of production are extensive and powerful. It has become wholly impossible that every single worker should own his own instruments of production. Ownership by the workers in common of the instruments of production means a cooperative system of production and the extinction of the exploitation of the workers, who become masters of their own products and who themselves appropriate the surplus of which, under our system, they are deprived by the capitalist. To substitute common, for private, ownership in the means of production, this it is the economic development we are urging. 

The cooperative commonwealth is not government ownership, a welfare state, or a repressive bureaucracy. Cooperative commonwealth or socialism is a new social and economic order in which workers and consumers control production and community residents control their neighbourhoods, homes, and schools. The production of society is used for the benefit of all humanity, not for the private profit of a few. The cooperative commonwealth produces a constantly renewed future by not plundering the resources of the earth. People across the world need to cast off the systems which oppress them, and build a new world fit for all humanity.

If the modern state nationalises certain industries, it does not do so for the purpose of restricting capitalist exploitation, but for the purpose of protecting the capitalist system and establishing it upon a firmer basis, or for the purpose of itself taking a hand in the exploitation of labour, increasing its own revenues. As an exploiter of labour, the state is superior to any private capitalist. Besides the economic power of the capitalists, it can bring to bear its political power. The state has never carried on the nationalising of industries further than the interests of the ruling classes demand, nor will it ever go further than that. Nationalisation will never be carried so far as to injure the capitalists and landlords or to restrict their opportunities for exploiting the proletariat. The state will not cease to be a capitalist institution. The World Socialist Movement has set to call the working-class to conquer the political power to the end that and to establish a self-sustainable co-operative commonwealth.

 Together we shall form a worldwide cooperative commonwealth and when the global cooperative commonwealth having been established, mankind for the first time be ensured the material and mental and moral requisites of a grand and noble existence. The cooperative commonwealth that has been the aim of generations of working-class will attain its full meaning and realisation only with the ending of capitalist rule. The needs of all will be met. It will mean the beginning of  peace and plenty for all the inhabitants of the Earth, the beginning of cooperation between the people.ples of the Earth.