Monday, March 12, 2018

The Profit System and the Alternative (1997)

From the February 1997 issue of the Socialist Standard

The social system we live under is capitalism, the profit system. It is a world-wide system. It exists in China and Cuba, just as it exists in Britain and the USA. Under capitalism, the means and instruments for production and distribution (land, factories, mines, railways, shipping, etc.) are owned and controlled by a minority— the capitalist class (5 percent of the population). All wealth, however, from a pin to an oilrig, is produced by us, the majority—the working class. In return for a wage or salary we sell our physical and mental energies to the capitalist class.

Production under capitalism is primarily undertaken with a view to making profit for the capitalist class, which means that items are produced and goods provided only when someone decides more money can be clawed back than was originally invested. The capitalist class, though, do not keep all of the profits they make. Much is reinvested in order that more profits can accumulate.

More often than not, too much is produced. When this happens the profits of the capitalist class are threatened. The result is that millions of tons of food are destroyed every year on purpose, to keep prices high in the shops. In addition, when no profits are to be made, workers are sacked or made redundant.

Meanwhile, millions die of starvation. Elsewhere, people sleep rough on the streets while millions of houses stand vacant and millions are unemployed while factories and machinery stand idle.

Occasionally, the interests of the capitalist class of one country come into conflict with the capitalist class of another. When this happens wars sometimes break out and workers are packed off to fight the workers from another country. They are told they are fighting for freedom and democracy, when in reality they are fighting over trade routes, foreign markets and mineral resources (all sources of profit for the capitalist class).

The mainstream parties will tell you that all this is inevitable (we agree that is—under capitalism) but that, if we are only patient, the system can be reformed. This is untrue. The capitalist system cannot be reformed in our interests because tho profit motive always has to come before social needs. Don't get us wrong, some reforms are beneficial, but none can abolish that basic contradiction between profit and need. The only way the capitalist system can be run is as it is run now. This is why the Socialist Party does not advocate reform, which is another way of saying patching up capitalism. We seek an end to the entire world-wide capitalist social system. In its place we wish to see established a world-wide socialist system.

Socialism does not exist and has never existed. It can not be established in a single country but only on a world-wide basis. In socialism, the earth’s resources, along with the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth, will be commonly owned and democratically controlled by the world’s peoples. There will be no minority élite and no owners because society will be classless.

With the disappearance of money and the wages system, society's productive potential will be released from the artificial constraints of profit. Goods and services will be provided because society needs them, not because they generate profit. With the barriers of the money system removed, the only questions needed to be asked is what is required and where—questions that will be answered according to the availability of resources.

Technology and communications will be freed from the constraints of profit and used to their utmost to serve the world’s peoples. Again, alternative sources of fuel and energy will be sought, both to best serve humans and show the environment the respect it deserves.

People will give according to their ability and take from the stockpile of communal wealth according to their own self-defined needs, with work being based on voluntary co-operation.

For the first time ever, people will have control over their own lives, with all monetary worries and fears of crime and war ended. For the first time ever, the people of planet Earth will have an equal share in planet Earth.
John Bissett

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