From the December 1984 issue of the Socialist Standard
The idea of socialism as a world without money can be found in sources covering a wide historical span and a great diversity of authors. Below we publish for the first time our own translation of part of the "Communist Catechism" written in German by Moses Hess in 1846.
1. What is money?
It is the value of human activity expressed in figures, the buying price or exchange value of our life.
2. Can human activity be expressed in figures?
Human activity has no price, any more than has man himself, since human activity is human life, for which no sum of money can compensate; it is priceless.
3. What is the man who can be sold for money, and the man who sells himself for money?
He who can be sold is a slave and he who sells himself has the soul of a slave.
4. What must we deduce from the existence of money?
We must deduce the existence of slavery, for money is the very mark of the slavery of man since it is the value of man expressed in figures.
5. For how long will men remain slaves and sell themselves, with all their abilities, for money?
They will remain slaves until society provides and guarantees to each the means he needs to live and act in a human way, so that the individual is no longer forced to acquire these means by his own initiative and, with this in view, to sell his activity in order to buy in return the activity of other men. This trade in men, this reciprocal exploitation, this enterprise which is called private, cannot be abolished by any decree; these can only be abolished by the establishment of a communist society, in which the means will be available for each to develop and use his human abilities.
6. In a society constituted on this basis, is the existence of money possible or imaginable?
No more than is the existence of human slavery. When men are no longer obliged to sell to each other their energies and abilities, they will no longer need to estimate their value in figures, to count, or to pay. In place of human value expressed in figures will then appear real, priceless human value: in place of usury, the flourishing of human abilities and the pleasures of life; in place of competition by unfair means, a harmonious cooperation and a noble emulation; in place of the compound interest table, the head, the heart and the hands of free and active men.