Editorial from the July 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard
Do television pictures of starving children make you angry? Would it make you more angry to learn that up to 20 million people die every year of starvation whilst tens of millions of tons of food are destroyed to keep prices high, and that farmers are paid vast sums not to produce food?
Are you astounded that an estimated 220 million people will be expected to have perished in wars fought during the 20th century? Could you believe that in almost every instance these conflicts broke out over trade routes, foreign markets and mineral resources - sources of present-day profit?
Are you concerned that tens of millions are unemployed around the world while factories are closed, and that countless thousands sleep rough in the world's major cities, whilst ten times as many houses stand vacant?
Are you frightened at the prospect of rising sea levels, deforestation and the depletion of the ozone layer? And do you despair at the threat to our planet from oil and chemical spills and nuclear accidents?
Undoubtedly you can answer yes to all the above. We could go on and fill many pages with similar questions. We are not morbid, but bring such catastrophic problems to your attention to prove that the society we live in —capitalism— is not fit for human beings to thrive in.
Production under capitalism is controlled by a small élite who also control distribution and communication networks. All wealth however, from a pin to an oil-rig is produced by workers—the majority, who sell their physical and mental energies to the owning capitalist class for a wage or salary.
Production under capitalism is primarily undertaken with a view to making profit for the capitalist class. This means that workers are employed and goods and services provided only when it is profitable to do so.
Socialists believe that such a social system is absurd and that the only way forward for humanity and planet Earth is the establishment of a world socialist system.
Socialism does not yet exist and never has. Some people believe socialism is associated with old USSR and China, but the evidence suggests that these countries have run their affairs no differently from, say, Britain and the USA.
Capitalism is a world-wide social system, and so must be its alternative—Socialism. It cannot exist in one country.
Socialism means that the resources for producing and distributing wealth (land, mines, factories, railways, shipping etc.) will be commonly owned and democratically controlled by the world's people.
For the first time, the people of the world will have a say in the running of their world.