Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Some theory Part 3

Socialists know that it is difficult for the workers to recognize their slave status because wage-slavery is cloaked with many disguises. The absence of legal forms of slavery and serfdom serve to hide the true nature of MODERN slavery. And because the capitalist class or the capitalist state owns the media of propaganda, it is indeed difficult to air the truth. This is why the worker usually believes that he lives in a free society. If the worker would but peep beneath the cloak of superficialities he would glimpse the real nature of society. He would discover the two economic classes in modern society and he would understand that as long as society is organized on such a basis his chances of living like a human being are negligible. He would see that the only sound future for him is to join a movement, the Socialist movement, and work to overthrow the system that keeps him in poverty, to introduce a sane system — Socialism.

In the conscious political battle to abolish Capitalism, and introduce Socialism, some means must be utilized in effecting the change. The Socialist preferred method is the vote or ballot. History teaches us this method is revolutionary and effective. In modern society, where civilized custom prevails, the vote is invariably resorted to in order to translate thought and desire into action. The Socialist knows that the vote is not merely a token, or gesture, or means of measurement, or scrap of paper, but a potent and effective weapon providing, of course, that there is an educated, determined individual behind the vote.

The State is the centralized organized power of the capitalist class. In the interests of that class it performs a dual function – administers the property affairs of the various sections comprising the class, and takes whatever steps are considered necessary to keep the working class in order. It is the latter coercive function of the State that concerns us here. It controls every department of the armed forces, all the way from the policemen’s clubs up to the colossal force of the atomic bomb. So long as the capitalist class is allowed to remain in control of the military, there would be no chance of dispossessing the capitalists, or abolishing their system. The primary move on the part of a revolutionary working class entails gaining control of the armed forces. The House of Commons, Reichstag, Congress or Dail, these so-called popular assemblies control the armed forces. Every bill presented, and every law passed, regarding every phase of military expenditure, reduction, or increase, has to go through the parliamentary channels.
There is no possibility of the workers successfully engaging the capitalist class on the basis of brute force or violence. If the capitalist means of combat rested merely and solely of police clubs, then, we might well organize workers’ battalions ( such as the Irish Citizens Army ) equipped with the same weapons, and prepared by ten easy lessons in ju-jitsu, and give a good account of ourselves on the field of action. But the tremendous and destructive nature of military weapons in society today preclude the possibility of successful competition. The owning class has a supreme and invincible weapon within its grasp: political power, – control of the army, navy, air and police forces.
That power is conferred upon the representatives of the owners at election times and they, recognizing its importance, spend large amounts of wealth and much time and effort to secure it. In countries like Britain and the U.S.A. (and many more) the workers form the bulk of the voters; a situation the employers are compelled to face and deal with. Hence the intense stream of opinion-forming influences which stems from their ownership and control of press, radio, schools to influence the workers to the view that Capitalism is the best of all possible social forms. And that only political groups who accept this view are worthy of workers votes. All of capitalism’s power, including its coercive power, is in the hands of the working class.

Given a working class that understands the nature of Capitalism and Socialism, and the revolutionary action that is essential to change one into the other, we need have no fear concerning the weapon of emancipation – the vote. Workers have at their disposal a very powerful lever called the ballot box. If the majority of the eligible voters agreed on one course of action and expressed themselves at the polls, they could mould the world into a fit place to live, devoid of war , poverty and exploitation.

We are not pacifists. We considered violence a possible, if not unavoidable, outcome of revolutionary change; but we argue that the more that the workers understood, the more educated they became in socialist ideas, the less likelihood there would be of violence. Historically the battle of ideas has been waged both in the mind – in debates and discussions – and on the streets. We of course favour the first approach, and do all we can to keep activity there. This is not just a matter of aesthetics. Fighting can only firstly divide us and secondly weaken us. Authoritarian parties rather than defending their own ideas create their own political ghettoes, such example are the old Communist Parties which denigrated and suppressed their opposition so as not to compete (and fail) at the level of demonstrating the relative values of their ideas. This is where street-fighting plays its role: physically removing opposition that one cannot overcome in a battle of hearts and minds, whilst destroying the climate in which the working class can find its way. The revolution is aborted in the process, not defended. This is another reason why a socialist revolution must be peaceful, at least as far as our class is concerned.

By contrast, a genuine revolutionary party is a party of the working class. A depoliticised working class cannot make a socialist revolution. It must be a party that operates at the level of discussion between workers, not so as to fetishise a particular political form but because a successful socialist revolution is made by the working class coming to revolutionary ideas.

“Revolutionary violence” is a sign of weakness in the working class. Our assumption is that significant numbers of capitalists will see the futility of resisting a well-educated, well-organised working-class majority . The capitalist class cannot continue it’s rule – even through violence or bribery – when enough workers decide to break with the capitalists’ legitimacy and the capitalist system. The WSM believes that the capitalist’s legitimacy comes from their ‘democratic’ rule, thus we believe that the capitalist’s legitimacy can be totally be broken by taking a majority in Parliament . But “capturing” Parliament is only a measure of acceptance of socialism and a coup de grace to capitalist rule. The real revolution in social relations will be made in our lives and by ourselves, not Parliament. The first, most important battle is to continue the destruction of capitalism’s legitimacy in the minds of our fellow class members. That is, to drive the development of our class as a class-for-itself, mindful of the fact that capitalism is a thing that can be destroyed and a thing that should be destroyed.

What do Socialists do in the meantime, until the majority become convinced of their case? Will the Socialists win over the majority of people to their case by fighting to improve their lives under capitalism ? Or by expending all their energy and resources in educating the workers to the necessity of eliminating capitalism and establishing socialism?

We Socialists are often accused of being opposed to reforms: social legislation to ameliorate some more or less intolerable situation – The Welfare State , Social Security, NHS or whatever . “Not so,” we respond.
The World Socialist Movement are not opposed to reforms per se, any more than we advocate them. We do not set ourselves up as opposing the attempts of the workers to improve their status under capitalism. We know the limitations of these attempts, and the limitations of the unions. But it is one thing to say that socialists should not oppose the non-Socialists fighting for reforms, and quite another to state that Socialists should place themselves in a position of trying to make capitalism work in the interests of the workers, when all along they know it cannot. Not only is it inconsistent, in our opinion, for socialists to seek to solve problems for the workers under a system which they say cannot solve these problems, but in a practical sense, such a two-directional approach would never bring about Socialism. And it is the latter which is our goal.
Suppose the World Socialist Movement were to embark on a high-powered campaign to obtain better housing, hospitals, roads, and so forth. Perhaps we would get a lot of people to join our organization. On what basis would they join? The same basis on which we appealed to them. We would in the end have an organization consisting of workers who were seeking continual improvement under capitalist methods of production and distribution, under a price, profit, and wage economy. What happens when such an organization is voted into political power as a majority? It merely uses the power of the State to carry on capitalism under different forms such as state-ownership or 'nationalisation'. It cannot use the control of the State to abolish capitalism, because its own members who joined on a reform basis, would be in opposition to it. The Party would have to carry out reform of capitalism, or lose its members to another organization which advocated remedial measures. We say capitalism cannot be reformed in the interest of the majority but that it can be abolished .

We see the technological perfection in modern society – automation. And we see also a productive apparatus capable of producing more than a sufficiency for all. The age-long problem facing man – production – has been solved. The very evolution of capitalism itself has solved the problem of production. The material conditions are now ripe for the establishment of Socialism. Poverty, chaos, war and social strife can be eliminated by doing away with the root causes of these horrors. This is our objective: To abolish capitalism, not vainly attempt to reform it. The method advocated by the Socialists is to appeal for members on the one sole platform of obtaining state power for the purpose of abolishing capitalism. If elected , we would not oppose social reforms but at the same time we would not advocate them.
By putting forth a program of immediate demands, we would not be educating any workers to the necessity for Socialism. We would instead be educating on the need to get all they can under the capitalist system. This latter type of education has never produced Socialists from among the workers, although it has contributed more than its share of members to the trade union officialdom. If you but take a glance around your union , you would see many union leaders who started out in the unions with your idea of “reforms today, socialism tomorrow.” They originally viewed reforms as a means to an end, but reforms became ends in themselves.

The Socialists, where they are employed in work-shops and factories which are organized, do not spurn the day- to- day struggle. Are the workers to sit down and have their wages reduced? Are they to starve while capitalism lasts? This, if we believe our opponents, is our attitude. The charge rests on the failure to distinguish between economic and political demands. First of all, it should be obvious, that even if we wished to avoid the day-to-day struggle, we HAVE to take part in it. It is not something created by Socialists or something we can ignore, but part and parcel of capitalism. Socialists take part in every struggle in the economic field to improve conditions. We are as militant as anybody else. But we point out its limitations. That’s why we are members of the World Socialist Movement . The function of the Party is to make Socialists, to propagate Socialism, and to point out to the workers that they must achieve their own emancipation. It does not say: “Follow us! Trust us! We shall emancipate you.” No, Socialism must be achieved by the workers acting for themselves.

Unions are the workers most effective means of defence under capitalism. In the absence of unions, the workers have no way of braking the downward pressure on their living standards and their working conditions. Only by means of their combined numbers in labour unions are the workers able to put up same form of resistance against the insatiable drive of capital for more surplus value. Only through unions can the workers ease the strain on their nerves and muscles in the factories, mills, and mines. Since surplus value is produced at the point of production, the most violent manifestations of the class struggle break out at that point. At that point the organized resistance of labour meets the combined onslaught of capital. The history of the labour movement proves the Marxian contention that wages are not regulated by any “iron law” but can be modified by organised militant action on the part of the workers, the value of the workers labour-power is not only determined by biological limitations of the human organism, but also by what Marx calls historical and social factors. One of the most weighty of these factors is the relationship of the class forces, the interplay of social conflict.
Those Socialists who argue that unions are only institutions of capitalism ( such as the ICC ) are correct, but they miss a salient point. Unions are class struggle institutions, and as such serve as a fertile field for Socialist education and propaganda. To be sure, participation in the class struggle does not automatically make workers class conscious. This brings us to the question of the role of the Socialist in the trade unions. As a union member the Socialist can participate in union affairs and in the course of doing so he can clarify events for his fellow workers in the light of Socialist knowledge. No matter what issue happens to be under consideration, the Socialist can explain it from the standpoint workers of class interests. Is the union engaged in negotiating with management for a wage increase , for example ? Then the Socialist can make clear that wages represent only a portion of what workers produce, and that the unpaid portion is surplus value appropriated by the employing class. Another task of Socialists in the unions is to wage an unceasing fight against the trend towards bureaucracy, urging the workers to be eternally vigilant in the defence of their democratic rights, opposing high salaries for the officials , proposing limited tenure of office, insisting that all major decisions be ratified by the membership – demanding that the unions be conducted of, for and by its members in fact as well as theory. Socialists should consistently impress upon the workers the urgency of restoring the union to the membership, in whose democratic control it belongs. The character of the leadership is to a large degree a reflection of the maturity or lack of maturity of the rank and file. Socialists should seek to raise the understanding of the rank and file, to imbue them with an awareness that their elected representatives should be the servants, not the masters, of the membership. The unions should belong to the members, and not be dominated by any clique, political or otherwise. Unions are first last and all the time economic organizations operating within the framework of capitalism. Attempts to use them for purposes other than this can only react to the detriment of the unions and their members.

By the very nature of the fact that WSMers are workers we participate in the fight for better wages and working conditions. But with two qualifications which arise from the fact that we are Socialists first, and members of unions second.
First, Socialists understand that this economic struggle against the capitalists is merely a defensive struggle, to keep capital from beating the working class living standards down , as stated earlier . For this reason we couple our struggle on the economic front with political education of the workers on the shop floor or in the offices . We point out the limitations of wage increases that it will merely stimulate employers to introduce new methods so that they will have fewer workers or higher productivity so ready and prepare for the next battle .
Second, socialists in unions do not advocate political legislation to reform capitalism. To do so would put the socialists in a position, not only of advocating reforms – which is opposed to socialist thinking – but also of educating, or rather mis-educating, the workers to believe that the capitalist state can function in their interests, when it is in the final analysis the agency by which the capitalist class maintains its domination over the working class.

So the Socialist is involved in the economic struggle by the fact that he is a member of the working class which naturally resists capital. But this is not the same thing as stating that the socialist party engages in activity for higher wages and better conditions. This is not the function of the Socialist party. Its task is to fight for Socialism, and the method it employs is education of the majority. The Socialist party is not concerned with reforms under capitalism. This is the concern of the ruling class which uses reforms to bribe off the working class, and the concern of those groups, such as the unions and their political arms, which seek to get all they can out of the present system. Were the Socialist movement to vanish from the earth, the capitalist, by the very class nature of the system, would still grant reforms to forestall the development of revolutionary thought among the workers. On the other hand, a rapidly rising socialist movement would force the capitalist class to grant more and more reforms

The Socialist movement is the natural umbrella for all humanity, the vast majority of which desire a peaceful harmonious world. All the single issues are seen by Socialists as effects, the cause of which is capitalism. Effects can be ameliorated but it is better to eliminate the cause and prevent the effects returning. Go to the root of the problem and not the symptoms . Once the decision is made by the majority to press forward to cooperative life in a peaceful world based upon the common ownership of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interests of the whole community people will be in place who have the knowledge, skills and passion to bring reality to their long-held dreams of solutions to each single issue, in full recognition that theirs is just one small but significant part of an entity much greater than the sum of its parts. Socialism as an economic system is green without being green. A system designed to meet the needs of the entire human population would actually be working against itself by polluting the planet and its people, so negative environmental impact costs must be factored into a Socialist administration of production.

“How would you Socialists suggest, right now, on organising production?" To which we replied, “Production is already organised, there is no problem in that area. There is no anarchy in production today. Anarchy appears when the products reach the market.” So production, we suggest, would be carried on as it is now but with the capitalist owner out of the picture. But, there being no problems in production – only in distribution – these important changes would occur:
(1) Distribution of goods and services instead of exchange; thus “use” instead of “profit” .
(2) Administration of things instead of government over people.
(3) A complete social body; not one divided into ruler and ruled.
(4) An entire economy administered democratically in the interest of the entire community.

‘A World of Abundance’ often referred to by Socialists has never referred to the open-ended consumerism encouraged by the advertisers but has rather as its target a stable and more satisfying way of life in which the scramble to accrue things is no longer central. With material survival removed from the marketplace by the abolition of commodity production we can expect that individuals will calm down their acquisitive desires and pursue more satisfying activities.

The abolition of the cause which enslaves the working class,( i.e. the private ownership of the means of life) and the introduction of the new organization of society with its basis of the common or social ownership of the means of wealth production, MUST entail organisation without leaders or leadership. The act of abolition of capitalist society requires a primary prerequisite: knowledge on the part of the individual as to what it is that is responsible for his or her enslavement. Without that knowledge s/he can only blunder and make mistakes that leave their class just where they were in the beginning, still enslaved. That knowledge must precede intelligent action. And intelligent action in this instance means intelligent organisation. The very nature of modern political organization in most countries makes this imperative. To be sure the powers of government, the machinery of the State can be captured by any group providing they are the majority. But the result has always been the same. A lack of unity of ideas and purpose that always ends in defeat even for the non-socialist, non-revolutionary aims of such groups and parties. However, some have profited by such movements and these generally are the self-appointed leaders, with position and self-gain as their rewards. Others, with more honourable motives have ended their careers as leaders in disillusionment and disgust. Few, either followers or leaders have learned too much for their emasculated efforts. But all of their experiences have added fresh evidence to the Socialist contention, that leadership is not only unnecessary but dangerous. It is a diversion of working class energy to ends that cannot serve them in any way.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Bill Casey

From our history , stolen from comrade's blog here

An extract from obituary :-
" [ Bill ] Casey was expounding the S.P.G.B. position and as the Bolsheviks had just gained control in Russia, he lost no time in analysing the position. Probably aided by articles in the "S.S.", he became a caustic critic of the "Neo-Communists." He was delegate to represent the Seamen at an International T. U. Conference in Moscow. This, being one of the earliest "Missions to Moscow" was beset with difficulties all the way. Passports were forged; passages were "stowing away," Dutch, German, Polish and Russian frontiers had to be "hopped." Guides were often un-reliable; "go-betweens" were often in the pay of both sides; sometimes both had to be discarded until bona-fides were definitely established, a delicate job under the conditions then prevailing on the continent. The ultimate arrival in Moscow, after much suffering, danger and perseverance, was hailed as a masterpiece of undercover work. Once at the gates of the Kremlin, most delegates became insufferable Bolshevik "Yes-men" whereas Casey and his co-delegate, Barney Kelly (another adherent of the S.P.G.B.) soberly tried to obtain a truthful estimate of the position. A few days sojourn in Moscow drew the following observations from Casey:
"Production was in a straight-jacket, lethargy and indifference permeated the whole economy; the people were entirely lacking in a sense of time. Without the normal industrial development of production and some measure of buying and selling (war-communism was the order of the day) drift and indifference would gradually strangle the economy of the Soviet".
These observations were greeted with disgust and dismay by the other delegates. However, before they left Moscow, Lenin introduced his "New Economic Policy" which, in essence, provided for the very things which Casey opined was needed to stabilize the Russian economy. In contrast to their hostile reception of Casey’s prognostications, the "yes-men" cheered and echoed Lenin’s belated pronouncements. Back in Australia, he submitted his report to Tom Walsh (then a leading Communist and foundation member of the Australian Communist Party), General President of the Australian Seamen’s Union. Walsh rejected the report and refused to publish it on the ground that it criticized the Bolsheviks and the Russian system. "

Once more , proof that when the WSM described Russia as state capitalist , it was not from simply an abstract theoretical position but an empirical one of eye-witness evidence .

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Some Theory - Part Two

In a socialist society, there will be no money and no exchange and no barter.

Goods will be voluntarily produced, and services voluntarily supplied to meet people's needs. People will freely take the things they need.Socialism will be concerned solely with the production , distribution and consumption of useful goods and services in response to definite needs . It will integrate social needs with the material means of meeting those needs . Common ownership means that society as a whole owns the means and instruments for distributing wealth. It also implies the democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth, for if everyone owns, then everyone must have equal right to control the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth.

By the replacement of exchange economy by common ownership basically what would happen is that wealth would cease to take the form of exchange value, so that all the expressions of this social relationship peculiar to an exchange economy, such as money and prices, would automatically disappear. In other words, goods would cease to have an economic value and would become simply physical objects which human beings could use to satisfy some want or other.
The disappearance of economic value would mean the end of economic calculation in the sense of calculation in units of value whether measured by money or directly in some unit of labour-time. It would mean that there was no longer any common unit of calculation for making decisions regarding the production of goods.

Socialism is a money-less society in which use values would be produced from other use values, there would need no have a universal unit of account but could calculate exclusively in kind .The only calculations that would be necessary in socialism would be calculations in kind. On the one side would be recorded the resources (materials, energy, equipment, labour) used up in production and on the other side the amount of the good produced, together with any by-products. Calculation in kind entails the counting or measurement of physical quantities of different kinds of factors of production. There is no general unit of accounting involved in this process such as money or labour hours or energy units. In fact, every conceivable kind of economic system has to rely on calculation in kind, including capitalism. Without it, the physical organisation of production (e.g. maintaining inventories) would be literally impossible. But where capitalism relies on monetary accounting as well as calculation in kind, socialism relies solely on the latter. That is one reason why socialism holds a decisive productive advantage over capitalism by eliminating the need to tie up vast quantities of resources and labour implicated in a system of monetary/pricing accounting.

Socialism is a decentralised or polycentric society that is self regulating , self adjusting and self correcting , from below and not from the top . It is not a command economy but a responsive one .
Planning in socialism is essentially a question of industrial organisation, of organising productive units into a productive system functioning smoothly to supply the useful things which people had indicated they needed, both for their individual and for their collective consumption. What socialism would establish would be a rationalised network of planned links between users and suppliers; between final users and their immediate suppliers, between these latter and their suppliers, and so on down the line to those who extract the raw materials from nature. The responsibility of these industries would be to ensure the supply of a particular kind of product either, in the case of consumer goods, to distribution centres or, in the case of goods used to produce other goods, to productive units or other industries. Planning is indeed central to the idea of socialism, but socialism is the planned (consciously coordinated and not to be confused with the central planning concept ) production of useful things to satisfy human needs precisely instead of the production, planned or otherwise, of wealth as exchange value, commodities and capital. In socialism wealth would have simply a specific use value (which would be different under different conditions and for different individuals and groups of individuals) but it would not have any exchange, or economic, value.

Needs would arise in local communities expressed as required quantities such as kilos , tonnes , cubic litres, or whatever , of various materials and quantities of goods . These would then be communicated according to necessity .Each particular part of production would be responding to the material requirements communicated to it through the connected ideas of social production . It would be self -regulating , because each element of production would be self-adjusting to the communication of these material requirements . Each part of production would know its position . If requirements are low in relation to a build-up of stock , then this would an automatic indication to a production unit that its production should be reduced . The supply of some needs will take place within the local community and in these cases production would not extent beyond this , as for example with local food production for local consumption .Other needs could be communicated as required things to the regional organisation of production. Local food production would require glass, but not every local community could have its own glass works . The requirements for glass could be communicated to a regional glass works . The glass works has its own suppliers of materials and the amounts they require for the production of glass are known in definite quantities. The required quantities of these materials could be passed by the glass works to the regional suppliers of the materials for glass manufacture . This would be a sequence of communication of local needs to the regional organisation of production, and thus contained within a region .

Local food production would also require tractors , for instance , and here the communication of required quantities of things could extend further to the world organisation of production . Regional manufacture could produce and assemble the component parts of tractors for distribution to local communities . The regional production unit producing tractors would communicate to their own suppliers , and eventually this would extend to world production units extracting and processing the necessary materials .

Production and distribution in socialism would thus be a question of organising a coordinated and more or less self-regulating system of linkages between users and suppliers, enabling resources and materials to flow smoothly from one productive unit to another, and ultimately to the final user, in response to information flowing in the opposite direction originating from final users. The productive system would thus be set in motion from the consumer end, as individuals and communities took steps to satisfy their self-defined needs. Socialist production is self-regulating production for use.
Stocks of goods held at distribution points would be monitored, their rate of depletion providing vital information about the future demand for such goods, information which will be conveyed to the units producing these goods. The units would in turn draw upon the relevant factors of production and the depletion of these would activate yet other production units further back along the production chain. There would thus be a marked degree of automaticity in the way the system operated. The maintenance of surplus stocks would provide a buffer against unforeseen fluctuations in demand .The regional production units would in turn communicate its own manufacturing needs to their own suppliers , and this would extend to world production units extracting and processing the necessary raw materials .

We are seeking ultimatelt to establish a "steady-state economy" or "zero-growth" society which corresponds to what Marx called "simple reproduction" - a situation where human needs were in balance with the resources needed to satisfy them. Such a society would already have decided, according to its own criteria and through its own decision-making processes, on the most appropriate way to allocate resources to meet the needs of its members. This having been done, it would only need to go on repeating this continuously from production period to production period. Production would not be ever-increasing but would be stabilized at the level required to satisfy needs. All that would be produced would be products for consumption and the products needed to replace and repair the raw materials and instruments of production used up in producing these consumer goods. The point about such a situation is that there will no longer be any imperative need to develop productivity, i.e. to cut costs in the sense of using less resources; nor will there be the blind pressure to do so that is exerted under capitalism through the market.

It will also create a ecologically benign relationship with nature. In socialism we would not be bound to use the most labour efficient methods of production. We would be free to select our methods in accordance with a wide range of socially desirable criteria, in particular the vital need to protect the environment.What it means is that we should construct permanent, durable means of production which you don’t constantly innovate. We would use these to produce durable equipment and machinery and durable consumer goods designed to last for a long time, designed for minimum maintenance and made from materials which if necessary can be re-cycled. In this way we would get a minimum loss of materials; once they’ve been extracted and processed they can be used over and over again. It also means that once you’ve achieved satisfactory levels of consumer goods, you don’t insist on producing more and more. Total social production could even be reduced. This will be the opposite of to-dayus Capitalist system's cheap, shoddy, “throw-away” goods and built-in obsolescence, which results in a massive loss and destruction of resources.

Simply put , in socialism there would be no barter economy or monetary system. It would be a economy based on need. Therefore, a consumer would have a need, and there would be a communication system set in place that relays that need to the producer. The producer create the product, and then send the product back to the consumer, and the need would be satisfied.

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Some Theory - PartOne

We in the SPGB are seeking a "steady-state economy" which corresponds to what Marx called "simple reproduction" - a situation where human needs were in balance with the resources needed to satisfy them.

Such a society would already have decided, according to its own criteria and through its own decision-making processes, on the most appropriate way to allocate resources to meet the needs of its members. This having been done, it would only need to go on repeating this continuously from production period to production period. Production would not be ever-increasing but would be stabilized at the level required to satisfy needs. All that would be produced would be products for consumption and the products needed to replace and repair the raw materials and instruments of production used up in producing these consumer goods. The point about such a situation is that there will no longer be any imperative need to develop productivity, i.e. to cut costs in the sense of using less resources; nor will there be the blind pressure to do so that is exerted under capitalism through the market. Of course, technical research would continue and this would no doubt result in costs being able to be saved, but there would be no external pressure to do so or even any need to apply all new productivity enhancing techniques

Since the needs of consumers are always needs for a specific product at a specific time in a specific locality, we will assume that socialist society would leave the initial assessment of likely needs to a delegate body under the control of the local community (although, other arrangements are possible if that were what the members of socialist society wanted).

In a stable society such as socialism, needs would change relatively slowly. Hence it is reasonable to surmise that an efficient system of stock control, recording what individuals actually chose to take under conditions of free access from local distribution centres over a given period, would enable the local distribution committee to estimate what the need for food, drink, clothes and household goods would be over a similar future period. Some needs would be able to be met locally: local transport, restaurants, builders, repairs and some food are examples as well as services such as street-lighting, libraries and refuse collection. The local distribution committee would then communicate needs that could not be met locally to the bodies charged with coordinating supplies to local communities.
The individual would have free access to the goods on the shelves of the local distribution centres; the local distribution centres free access to the goods they required to be always adequately stocked with what people needed; their suppliers free access to the goods they required from the factories which supplied them; industries and factories free access to the materials, equipment and energy they needed to produce their products; and so on. Production and distribution in socialism would thus be a question of organising a coordinated and more or less self-regulating system of linkages between users and suppliers, enabling resources and materials to flow smoothly from one productive unit to another, and ultimately to the final user, in response to information flowing in the opposite direction originating from final users. The productive system would thus be set in motion from the consumer end, as individuals and communities took steps to satisfy their self-defined needs. Socialist production is self-regulating production for use.

Socialism will be a self regulating , decentralised inter-linked system to provide for a self sustaining steady state society. And we can set out a possible way of achieving an eventual zero growth steady state society operating in a stable and ecologically benign way. This could be achieved in three main phases.
First, there would have to be emergency action to relieve the worst problems of food shortages, health care and housing which affect billions of people throughout the world. Secondly, longer term action to construct means of production and infrastructures such as transport systems for the supply of permanent housing and durable consumption goods. These could be designed in line with conservation principles, which means they would be made to last for a long time, using materials that where possible could be re-cycled and would require minimum maintenance.
Thirdly, with these objectives achieved there could be an eventual fall in production, and society could move into a stable mode. This would achieve a rhythm of daily production in line with daily needs with no significant growth. On this basis, the world community could reconcile two great needs, the need to live in material well being whilst looking after the planet

For socialism to be established, there are two fundamental preconditions that must be met.
Firstly, the productive potential of society must have been developed to the point where, generally speaking, we can produce enough for all. This is not now a problem as we have long since reached this point.
Secondly, the establishment of socialism presupposes the existence of a mass socialist movement and a profound change in social outlook.

Humans behave differently depending upon the conditions that they live in. Human behaviour reflects society. In a society such as capitalism, people's needs are not met and reasonable people feel insecure. People tend to acquire and hoard goods because possession provides some security. People have a tendency to distrust others because the world is organized in such a dog-eat-dog manner. If people didn't work society would obviously fall apart. To establish socialism the vast majority must consciously decide that they want socialism and that they are prepared to work in socialist society. If people want too much? In a socialist society "too much" can only mean "more than is sustainably produced."
If people decide that they (individually and as a society) need to over-consume then socialism cannot possibly work. Under capitalism, there is a very large industry devoted to creating needs. Capitalism requires consumption, whether it improves our lives or not, and drives us to consume up to, and past, our ability to pay for that consumption. In a system of capitalist competition, there is a built-in tendency to stimulate demand to a maximum extent. Firms, for example, need to persuade customers to buy their products or they go out of business. They would not otherwise spend the vast amounts they do spend on advertising. There is also in capitalist society a tendency for individuals to seek to validate their sense of worth through the accumulation of possessions. As Marx contended, the prevailing ideas of society are those of its ruling class then we can understand why, when the wealth of that class so preoccupies the minds of its members, such a notion of status should be so deep-rooted. It is this which helps to underpin the myth of infinite demand. It does not matter how modest one's real needs may be or how easily they may be met; capitalism's "consumer culture" leads one to want more than one may materially need since what the individual desires is to enhance his or her status within this hierarchal culture of consumerism and this is dependent upon acquiring more than others have got. But since others desire the same thing, the economic inequality inherent in a system of competitive capitalism must inevitably generate a pervasive sense of relative deprivation. What this amounts to is a kind of institutionalised envy and that will be unsustainable as more peoples are drawn into alienated capitalism .

In socialism, status based upon the material wealth at one's command, would be a meaningless concept. The notion of status based upon the conspicuous consumption of wealth would be devoid of meaning because individuals would stand in equal relation to the means of production and have free access to the resultant goods and services . Why take more than you need when you can freely take what you need? In socialism the only way in which individuals can command the esteem of others is through their contribution to society, and the stronger the movement for socialism grows the more will it subvert the prevailing capitalist ethos, in general, and its anachronistic notion of status, in particular.

All wealth would be produced on a strictly voluntary basis. Work in socialist society could only be voluntary since there would be no group or organ in a position to force people to work against their will. Free access to goods and services denies to any group or individuals the political leverage with which to dominate others (a feature intrinsic to all private-property or class based systems through control and rationing of the means of life ) . This will work to ensure that a socialist society is run on the basis of democratic consensus. Goods and services would be provided directly for self determined needs and not for sale on a market; they would be made freely available for individuals to take without requiring these individuals to offer something in direct exchange. The sense of mutual obligations and the realisation of universal interdependency arising from this would profoundly colour people’s perceptions and influence their behaviour in such a society. We may thus characterise such a society as being built around a moral economy and a system of generalised reciprocity.

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