From the February 1994 issue of the Socialist Standard
For a very serious reason, we would ask you to pretend for a moment. Just allow your invagination to take a short journey from where you are now and look at how your life would change if what you are pretending actually happened.
You are living in a world where money does not exist. When you want something you go to the store and take it. There isn’t someone to tell you what you can take or when you can take it; that decision is yours. And everybody else has the same right to avail themselves of what they need as you — so there are no criminals wanting to rob you.
Of course, all the things that people freely avail themselves of have to be produced. Food has to be grown and processed; things have got to be made and houses and other buildings have to be built; a thorough and efficient health service has to be run as well as emergency and other services. In the world where you are pretending to be there is plenty of work to do.
But because money and all other forms of ration tokens do not exist, millions of jobs that used to use the skills and energies of people no longer exist. There is no need for banks, insurance offices, advertising and promotion services, sales people of all the different sorts, mortgage services, dole clerks, security personnel, judges, lawyers and criminals. The list is a very long one and includes armed forces and all those munition workers, scientists and others employed in the killing industry — as the competition for markets, trade routes and other material interests that cause wars and conflicts would have disappeared. All in all, it would be safe to say that, in the world in which you are pretending to be now, there would be at least three times as many people to do the necessary work as there are in the world you are pretending to have left.
In the pretend world there is no government because there are no conflicting interests and no need for people to be controlled by a coercive state. Instead, there are democratically-elected bodies at local, regional and world level whose function is to organize production and distribution. You may be elected to one of these bodies. If you are you will not receive any special favours — of course, you won’t need to for, like everybody else, the things you need are freely available to you. Those elected to carry on public administration can be recalled by those who elected them and no-one is coerced into fulfilling any task.
In this pretend world, neither you nor any other person will ever endure poverty or insecurity; you will never be homeless or badly housed; you will not die in warfare or civil conflict for the basis of these evils will have been abolished and, since there is no need to steal, crime and offences against the person do not now exist. Automation and new productive processes, instead of creating unemployment, simply make necessary work easier for all and, like the fact that all the wasteful occupations of the old world have been abolished, give more leisure to those who wish to travel in a world where frontiers do not exist or to pursue other work, hobbies or interests.
Back to reality
Let’s stop the pretending there and deal with "reality”! Because reality is a world where everything carries a price tag, where millions die annually of hunger, millions more simply "get by" and only a relatively few people are wealthy or enormously rich, we think of this terrible and frightening reality as the natural order of things, as natural as the seasons.
In fact, we are told that this awful reality reflects our "human nature" and that this nature would not permit us to live in a world such as you were just now pretending to live in. In other words, that because we are human we cannot all have free and equal access to the abundance of everything that it is now possible to produce. On the other hand, despite us being human, we can accept a reality where the members of a minority class can freely avail themselves of their needs from the wealth we produce. It is not too difficult to see why the ruling class, who control our "education" and our social conditioning, tell us that our "nature" would not allow us to cooperate in the sane organization of society.
There exists now the economic potential to create a world where everyone has free access to their needs without wages, money or any other form of rationing. Unfortunately, the political will to establish such a world is absent largely because we have been conditioned to believe that the present capitalist system is, as we have observed, the natural order of things, despite its endemic problems and that there is no alternative to capitalism.
The world we asked you to pretend to be living in at the outset was the world envisaged by the early socialists. Unfortunately, that vision was deliberately corrupted by politicians acting in ignorance or in the interests of the ruling class. Thus, state capitalism, a brutal and anti-democratic form of capitalism operating in so-called communist countries, was claimed to represent the ideas of socialism as were the failed reformist policies of Labour parties.
But socialism has not failed; on the contrary, it has never been tried and the growth of a genuine movement to bring it about has been deliberately frustrated by Establishment lies and misrepresentation. It is because the case for socialism is so overwhelmingly logical that those who oppose it out of narrow self-interest use their wealth, their power and their privilege to distort its meaning and to deny valid arguments about its nature and its feasibility a place on the political agenda. These are interests that have successfully pretended to you that you have to put up with capitalism and its disgusting abuse of humanity because there is no alternative to that system.
Because socialism and democracy are indivisible, the task of the Socialist Party is to build the political means of convincing a majority to opt for Socialism. We do not pretend that it is an easy task but, confronted with capitalist reality, it is an urgent and essential one.