The ability to produce has long since reached the point which would allow mankind to go over, in a very short time, to free distribution of the things needed to live and to enjoy life. The technical problem of producing enough wealth for all to enjoy has been solved long ago. The problem of how to produce enough to satisfy the needs of every man, woman and child were solved by about the turn of the 20th century. From then on scientific knowledge and technological ability could have banished forever all human misery resulting from a lack of material resources: hunger and malnutrition, disease and ill-health. Rather than ending poverty, production has remained fixed on profit-making and the accumulation of capital. As the problem of production had already been solved the result has been the continuation of human misery and suffering which was unnecessary and could have been avoided. It is the price humanity has paid for the maintenance of capitalism.
The World Socialist Movement (WSM) suggests a world community where wealth is produced by voluntary labour and is available to all free of charge can be accomplished now.
Is a real society of abundance only a dream, impossible to achieve because there are not enough resources to do it? Many environmentalists think that our growing population is quickly draining the earth of its supplies of resources and raw materials. As a socialist society, we envisage cannot be built on scarcity it is impossible to establish according to their logic. Instead of free access socialism, a world of plenty — eco-activists talk about de-growth. There is an echo of a Malthusian bias in the Green movement today with its talk of “scarce resources”. Of course the supplies of what mankind needs are not limitless, but they are still enough to more than meet what is likely to be needed in the foreseeable future.
It is true that because of its profit motive capitalism is misuses the planet’s natural resources and spews out massive pollution, it is really destroying the potential for abundance which is required for the creation of socialism. But it has not done that yet but this possibility only underlines the urgency and need for socialism in the here and now.
When socialists are told that socialism is impossible because of a lack of resources, we answer that there is no direct correlation between capitalism’s consumerism and the consumption of various raw materials with the standard of living of people. In reality, no one knows how big the Earth’s absolute supplies of different raw materials are. No comprehensive and detailed survey of the world’s resources in relation to the needs of its people has ever been made. Those able to do this, the scientists and statisticians working for governments and inter-governmental organisations, have never been asked to collect this information other than under the context of capitalist economics. What has been investigated are supplies and resources that capitalism needs. And that is something very different. Researchers duplicate the way capitalism calculates and calculates in monetary terms. The WSM says the world has and has had for some time now, the natural, industrial and human resources to provide for the needs of all its people. Every technological advance makes capitalism even more obsolete and socialism even more practicable.
Socialism will abolish all the waste connected with capitalism: no labour, energy or raw materials will any longer be wasted on, armament production, financial institutions and the thousands of other articles which are only needed in a commodity-producing society. Socialism will be constructed to be prudent with the earth’s resources by only producing what is durable, re-usable, re-cyclable and repairable instead of shoddy, throwaway single-use articles
Production of goods is carried on not to satisfy human needs but for sale at a profit. For instance, before people can get the food they must already have money. This they must hand over, on a value-for-value basis, to those who own the food before they can eat it.
What we mean by free access should become clear. No section of society will monopolise access to the means for producing wealth. These will belong to no-one and so will be the property of the whole of mankind to use as they think fit. A truly liberated society will be built upon associations of mutual aid with all the peoples of the world. Socialist humanity will no longer produce goods to be exchanged for money on the market. It will produce use values distributed to all members of society in order to satisfy their needs. Production for need supersedes production for profit.
Because it will not be restricted by the market and the profit motive, production will be able to realize the abundance that it is technologically capable of. Production in Socialism will be of useful and necessary items, to satisfy society’s needs, not for profit. Further, because there will be no market, the work currently done by millions of people will become unnecessary. Socialism will not need the services performed by those who work in the vast finance departments of governments and businesses, or those who work in banks, insurance or other financial institutions (after all, there will be no money!). Nor will it need the many security guards, and check-out cashiers whose essential task it is to ensure you don’t walk out of the supermarket without paying. Also, socialism will not require armed forces, legal and judicial systems, nor the vast propaganda organisations (e.g. the church) whose main tasks are the maintenance of the dominant position of the minority-owning class in each national territory and the subjugation of the majority. Instead of doing these socially useless jobs, the people presently undertaking them would, in socialism, together with those who are now unemployed, be enabled to be creative. They would be so enabled because they would own the means and instruments for such creativity which the present social organisation denies them. Thus socialism will mean the liberation of mankind from such useless and uncreative work and the mobilisation of all human abilities for the extension of human abilities.
Work in socialism will be on the basis of voluntary cooperation and the democratic administration of society. The production and distribution of wealth will be controlled by the whole of society. Just as at present there exists an electricity grid system, which assesses market demand for power, and maintains supply in all areas, so too, in socialism there will be a sort of worldwide network system for all wealth, which will assess people’s needs, regulate production accordingly, and maintain the requisite supplies to all areas. Socialism will also involve the rational use of resources and areas, using those resources and areas for the activities to which they are best suited.
With the means of production the common heritage of all the people of the world, the scientific knowledge and expertise that society now possesses can be used for the sole purpose of satisfying human needs in accordance with the long-standing socialist principle “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs”. The future is socialism, but it is no more inevitable than anything else which requires human action for its achievement. What is needed, is for all those who seek such anew society to unite and organise with like-minded people for the purpose of taking the requisite political action to change society.