Editorial from the July 1969 issue of the Socialist Standard
In a Socialist world everyone will be stony broke, unemployment will reach a level today undreamed of, and all trade will grind to a halt.
That is why we think it such a good idea — but perhaps we had better explain a little.
Everyone will be broke because in Socialism there will be no money. In fact, there will be no buying and selling at all. Nor will there be a system of barter. Instead people will be free to go into the shops and supermarkets and take whatever they want, without payment and without being rationed.
The world can be run in this way because we already have the technical know-how to produce more than enough of the things people want and need. But for the moment money still functions as a form of rationing. If you can't afford something, you go without. That is why people starve, why families are condemned to live in slums, and why men, women, and children throughout the world are deprived and have their lives ruined. Yet the stupid thing about it is that the money system is not the result of scarcity in the world today but it is the cause of that scarcity. All the evidence shows that food, for example, is not produced in sufficient quantities to adequately feed the world’s population not because man lacks the resources to do this but for the disgusting reason that no profits can be made out of hungry people.
Of course, socialism involves such a complete change in the way in which the world is organised that it can only be put into practice when all the factories, mines, transport systems, shops, and so on are owned by mankind and used for the benefit of the entire world population. That is why we say that in socialism unemployment will reach such massive proportions. The whole system of employment (which exists both in the West and in the so-called Communist countries), of a class of bosses buying our energies with wages and then setting us to work for themselves, will be replaced by voluntary, co-operative effort by all members of society. At the same time one of the first priorities in a socialist world will be to get rid of the boring and repetitive tasks which today make so much work unpleasant and replace them with alternative methods.
Socialism must be a world community without frontiers. It can not be set up in one country or even in one part of the world. This means that, just as there will be no buying and selling between individuals in Socialism, so there will be no trade between different countries. Production in Socialism will involve a worldwide effort to produce what is wanted and since every region will be working towards this end (and will participate in the democratic processes used to decide what is needed and in what quantities) naturally every group of people will have free access to what is produced.
Possibly one or two highly original objections to the system we propose have by now occurred to you. Perhaps you think that man is 'too lazy’ or 'too greedy' to make Socialism work, or you might imagine that everything we suggest conflicts with 'human nature’. But, of course, such views are just prejudices unless you have some evidence to show that man is unsuited to live in a socialist society. Socialists are always open to reasoned argument but all our investigations so far have led us to the conclusion that Socialism is not just a good idea but also is urgently needed to solve many of the problems which now harry us.