Letters to the Editors from the July 1989 issue of the Socialist Standard
The main drive of capitalism demands a commodity market where everything is for sale with a view to profit. This drive is the profit motive. It is generally accepted and idealised as the best possible motive for producing what society needs. It operates in all countries of the world and every country has a ruling and subject class. There are no exceptions.
The profit motive works — after a fashion and at a terrible cost to society.
While we produce commodities that we may or may not need, we produce in the process huge piles of garbage and toxic waste, a polluted world, an endangered earth and a threat to all forms of life.
For evidence of these serious charges read, “Planet of the Year" in Time Magazine, 2 January 1989.
Unfortunately, the authors see the problems but not the root cause. They offer no real solutions, only band-aids. By accepting the profit motive they misdirect us and show their class bias by expecting “ordinary people to adjust their life styles", while conveniently shielding the rich. They call for political leadership which always favours the few at the expense of the many.
The profit motive is a corruptive force. It cripples the spirit of co-operation while promoting competition which leads to either a cold or hot war.
It breeds false prophets who preach that monetary riches lead to security, success and happiness. It divides people and cultivates hate, favours the few and condemns the many. It is outdated, unnecessary, unhealthy and must be replaced.
The question is, “By what, how and by whom”? Modern technology harnessed by common sense can work for the common good of all people. This means replacing the profit motive and market economy, with a human motive and democratic economy, where the role of the individual will simply be, "From each according to ability, to each according to need".
We don't have to be saints or utopians but we must be politically informed, and to know our real interests. The popular concept of a democracy today is a farce, the propaganda of the ruling class and its supporters.
We must desire, demand and build a real democracy. A real democracy can only be achieved on a world-wide basis. It cannot exist on a national level. The people, as a whole, must own and control the means of life and democratically make the decisions. We do not need leaders. We need only ourselves, the working class, and together with the tools of technology and the desire of a sane society we can complete the job. If we meet this challenge we can easily solve the pollution problems of the mind and the environment.
Our reward will be a world without classes, just people living life to its fullest and getting along together. The only thing that can stop us is ourselves, and nothing can stop an idea that has come of age.
John F. Ahrens