Editorial from the October 1991 issue of the Socialist Standard
We live in a world dominated by capitalism. A tiny minority—the international capitalist class—between them own and control all the major productive resources of society, the land, mines, factories, machinery, transport, media, communications, and the goods and services which these resources are capable of turning out. The task of actually producing this social wealth, however, is carried on by those on the other side of the class divide: the world working class, the vast majority who, because we are excluded from any significant ownership of the productive forces, must work for the capitalists for a wage or a salary in order to live.
The wages system is a form of rationing which limits our access to the wealth we collectively as a class have produced. In the long run our wages are eaten up in the struggle to make ends meet, which means we have to continually find or stay in employment—or stretch our meagre dole cheques—to try and support ourselves and our families.
The basic contradiction of capitalism is that whilst wealth production today is a globally inter-related activity carried out by millions of workers, who alone run society from top to bottom, the social relationships of class ownership restrict and subordinate our common social needs to the impersonal dictates of the market. With modern productive methods, such as computers and information technology, the world now has the potential to provide more than adequately for the material needs of the whole global population and to ensure a satisfying and creative life for us all. Yet if we look at the TV, listen to the radio or read a newspaper, what do we continually see?
Vast social inequality and discontent; grinding poverty alongside conspicuous plenty; thousands of our fellow humans dying daily of starvation with millions more undernourished or in refugee camps; slums and dereliction in the inner cities; the chronic wastage and misuse of resources; the never-ending human cost of the ravages of war; the devastation of communities; the turning of workers into highly efficient killing machines; the ignorance and bigotry of racial hatred and nationalism.
Throughout the history of the capitalist system attempts have been made to address these problems, but today the problems are if anything greater than ever. For example, that of people dying from hunger in one part of the world, while in another part food is stockpiled or farmers are paid not to grow it because it can't be sold profitably. Socialists say that this and the many other social problems are the inevitable consequences of production for profit instead of human need, and that only a world socialist system of society can provide the framework for solving these problems by removing their basic cause once and for all.
We put forward the revolutionary proposition that everything in and on the Earth should become the common property of the whole worlds population, without distinction of race, sex or ability; that society should be run by and in everyone’s interest; and that the production of useful wealth should be directly determined by our common social needs and freely available to all without any market mechanism. It means a society where classes no longer exist because we would all have equal access to and control over the means for satisfying our needs. It means the end of national frontiers and governments, the end of wars and social conflict, and the start of a truly global society of harmony and co-operation with all our rich human diversity.