At present, there is a vast gulf between what is technologically possible and what is actually put into use. The question of how to reconcile them is the most pressing problem that confronts people today.
Concrete examples of this problem can be found daily in the media where we are informed
- that food is not produced in a sufficient quantity to relieve the hunger of millions—despite the fact that a surplus actually exists to make it possible to feed the world;
- that schools, hospitals, homes, etc., are not built in enough numbers to meet the needs of communities despite the necessary materials and labour being available;
- that there is a shortage of many things that can make for a pleasant human existence—despite the available resources for their production;
- that artistic and intellectual development and scientific and medical research are limited—despite the vast human potential for such development;
- that millions of people in the world (whether officially unemployed or employed in unproductive jobs) are deprived of creative activity and the opportunity to usefully employ their talents—despite their desire for creativeness.
The media however are largely superficial—they record the effects of the problem but they do not delve deeper into the cause. It is not a technological or human problem but a social one: it is the result of the way the economy is run. Today’s society is organised on the basis of the minority ownership of the means of living (the factories, the land, the railways, etc.) while the majority of society’s members are deprived of such ownership and are therefore dependent on their livelihood upon the minority who own it. Because of their ownership of the means of living, the minority promote their own interests even when they conflict with the interests of the majority.
While it is in the interests of the majority for more food to be produced, more homes to be constructed, more medical clinics to be provided, etc., it is not necessarily in the interests of the owning class—and if it isn’t, the development of these things is limited. The main criterion for whether or not something is in the interests of the owning class is whether or not it will create for them profits. Today, profits are made in the process of commodity production and are realized in the sale of the commodity (an item of wealth produced for sale) on the market. Thus where there are not the market conditions to make the production of a commodity profitable, that commodity will not be produced. It is for this reason that man’s potential for abundance and development is not fully realized, as progress is restricted by the present social organisation and its market in which the general rule is NO PROFITS, NO PRODUCTION.
It is therefore class division, which is basic to the present form of social organisation, which today causes the great gulf between what is possible and what is actually realized in the field of wealth production. The solution to the problem of how to realize man’s full potential lies therefore in the replacement of the present social organisation with a new social organisation in which everyone owns the means of living in common— socialism. The means of living will be owned in common, and so too the product of society will belong to everyone. Each person will have equal rights of access to the social produce, each will determine her/his own needs and take freely from the common stock of wealth produced. This concept of wealth distribution is termed “free access”, and it means precisely that. For in socialism wealth will not be bought or sold on a market, it will not be exchanged for money, but rather it will be made freely available so that anyone who needs it can take it.
The organisation in socialism will be under the complete control of society’s members. There will probably be general assemblies, delegated committees and all administrative councils. However, the exact form which decision-making in socialism will take, cannot be fully determined yet, for the various forms must itself result from discussion and debate. Further, the growth of information technology which could aid the exercise of democracy is continually developing and progressing; for example, already it is possible to collate and convey vital information via mobile phone text, thus enabling and facilitating a potentially vast expansion of mechanisms for registering preferences and opinions. One thing is certain, however, socialism will be the most hands-on democratic form of society possible, and no minority will be able to enforce its will upon the majority.
Because no one will be in a position to coerce others, all work in socialism will be voluntary. Obviously in order to live people will need to produce wealth, but such production will not take place in coercive or exploitative conditions. Instead, each person will contribute to society as much of their talents and abilities as they are willing to give. Due to the fact that the producers will no longer be exploited (robbed of the full fruits of their labour) in the course of production; nor forced to work in conditions which are sometimes detrimental to their health; nor deprived of creativity in work; nor forced to compete with one another for pay and promotion; nor forced to labour in circumstances which they don’t fully control; nor forced to divide their activity between employment and “leisure” (neither of which are fully satisfying)—work in socialism will be a pleasure, a definite end and need in itself. Mankind will, for the first time, be in complete control of its circumstances, it will create and recreate its circumstances, it will venture to the very limits of its potentiality, and it will continually extend itself to an extent that could never be achieved under the present social organisation. People, in socialism, will be revealed as the supreme creative artist, we shall constantly beautify and redesign our world, we shall perpetually increase our power, we shall continuously acquire more knowledge. In the future, having liberated itself from the restrictions of the present social organisation, mankind will mobilise all of its abilities for the extension of its abilities.
Achieving socialism requires a revolution carried out by a working class who have come to understand the nature of capitalism and the desirability of socialism, and who are willing to organise and operate a socialist system and make it work. The material conditions for socialism already exist. The World Socialist Movement exists to spread the idea of a cooperative commonwealth and to act as the political tool of the socialist working class who will carry out this revolution.