Editorial from the November 1995 issue of the Socialist Standard
We have only have one life: this one. There is no afterlife, nor does reincarnation exist. This life is the only life we have, and the only way we humans can improve it is by our own collective action. No Messiah or other Saviour is going to come and lead us to a better life. We are on our own.
Things here on Earth could certainly do with improving. According to the United Nations, more than a billion on the planet live in a state of absolute poverty. Some 550 million go to bed hungry each night. More than 1.5 billion lack access to clean drinking water and sanitation.
This is in a world where, at the same time, resources are wasted on the manufacture and development—and always, somewhere, sometime, the use—of missiles, bombers, fighters, warships, tanks, rockets, bombs, mines, guns and other weapons of individual and mass destruction; and where each year food is dumped because the price is not right and where farmers, in the most productive parts are paid to "set aside" their land from agriculture and not produce food.
Can something be done about this? Yes. if we set aside all the anti-human dogmas about "original sin" and "misused free will" to be found in the sacred texts and theologies of all religions and look at the situation objectively and rationally. If we do this we can sec that the root cause of mass human suffering is that wealth today is not produced directly to satisfy human needs but for sale on some market with a view to profit.
The things we need to live and enjoy life are produced today only if there’s a financial profit in it for the private firms, state concerns and rich individuals who own and control the world's productive resources. It is this that causes the economic and military rivalry and the neglect of human needs we see all around us. And these will go on as long as sectional (private or nation-state) ownership and production for profit continue.
The collective human action that is needed to improve human life on Earth is democratic action to make the resources of the world the common heritage of all humanity. It is only on this basis that we humans, without Messiahs, prophets, gods or any other type of super-being, can freely direct production towards the satisfaction of our needs and so ensure that every man. woman and child on this planet has adequate access to food, clothes, housing and all the other things needed to live an enjoyable life.
That’s the real answer to religion's false claim; to concentrate single-mindedly on making life on Earth— and. when we get there, on the moon and on the other planets—the best possible. After all. it’s the only life all humans are ever going to have.