Saturday, May 6, 2023

“The Transition From War to Peace” (1944)

Book Review from the April 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Transition From War to Peace by A. G Pigou. (Oxford University Press, 6d.)

We have received the above for review. Professor Pigou deals almost solely with the post-war problem of the difficulty in finding employment for large masses of workers, who will find themselves out of a job when peace arrives. In various parts of the pamphlet he records accurately the facts and figures of the labour market after the last war, and on page 6 says:—
“The transition from war to peace, throwing as it must do, vast numbers of men and women out of direct and indirect forms of war work, is bound to create, as it did create in 1919, an assembly of persons, less vast indeed, but nevertheless large, for the moment deprived of employment and anxiously seeking after it in one or another civilian occupation.”
With regard to the immediate post-war situation, he remarks that “a vast process of re-stocking will be called for.” During this time—six months or so after the war, he estimates—it is probable that the problems will arise in the transfer of workers from one job to another and not in the actual finding of work.

He makes an important point with regard to this “period of transfer and adjustment” on page 9 when he says:-—
“With the large number of persons that must be then suddenly thrown on the labour market, there is a risk that wage earners, at all events in some occupations, will find themselves at a disadvantage in bargaining and so may be forced to accept large reductions in. rates of pay.”
To obviate this after the last war the Government passed Temporary Wage Regulation Acts in 1918 which were extended to 1920. He mentions that it would be sound policy for the Government to do this again after the present war—presumably for the same purpose of preventing unrest amongst the workers who come back from the battle fronts eagerly searching for the “Four Freedoms” or signs of the already moribund “Atlantic Charter.”

Manifesting in no uncertain fashion the character of post-war “reconstruction/’ the pamphlet continues (page 11) :
“The transition is bound to be a long drawn out affair, of which the first year or so of peace constitutes only the initial phase . . . Thus we should expect a second phase following the first—a phase of relatively contracted demand, in which a number of would-be workers may well find themselves without a job—a delayed post-war depression linked with and partly caused by the high activity of immediate post-war days.”
Here again he draws upon the history of the period following 1918 depicting clearly the catastrophic nature of the slump of 1920 and the years following, when prices came tumbling down, and wages following after.

Pigou (who, by the way, is a Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge) states, however, that “it is not inevitable that at the end of the present war these events should repeat themselves.” He says : “The moral of this history is fairly plain. After the war of 1914-18 money got out of hand.” (Page 17.) This is his explanation of the economic phenomena of slump and boom—his solution being that if money is kept in hand by the retention of certain war-time controls these things will not occur.

But the fact that slumps and booms can be controlled or abolished by controlling the movements of money is given the lie by Professor Pigou himself on page 15, where he points out that this boom broke in 1920, not as “a consequence of deflation by the banks, in the sense of a contraction of the quantity of money in existence.”

“It was a consequence of the decisions by business men not to use their money.” (Pigou’s emphasis.)

Why didn’t the capitalists wish to use their money and keep production going? Or, to put the question another way, why from 1918-20 did the capitalists want to use their money to the greatest possible extent, but not afterwards? Obviously we must seek the solution not in the movements of money but in the factors that cause capitalists at one period to wish to use their money in production, and at some other period not to do so. In other words, we must have recourse to the motive of capitalists in engaging in production. Knowing that, under capitalism, goods are produced with the intention of their being sold at a profit, it is easily seen that when the prospects of profit are great the capitalist will jump in on production and when the prospects of profit are very doubtful he will jump out again.

Applying this to the situation in 1918 it is clear that the capitalists fell over themselves to get in first during the “re-stocking” period when demand exceeded supply, prices were high and profits good. As soon as the markets by about 1920 had readjusted themselves (by means of the “healthy competition of private enterprise”) and the normal chaos of capitalist production had its effect, numerous industries were faced with declining demand for their products. Prices slumped, and the prospects of profit disappeared. Then the capitalists were forced to think more than twice about putting their money into further production.

This pamphlet, like others in the series of “Oxford Pamphlets on Home Affairs,” offers a good deal of sound factual information, but fails to offer a correct explanation or adequate solution of the problem with which it deals.

So long as capitalism exists with its private ownership of the means of production and its scramble for markets, so long will exist the economic phenomena of crises and booms, together with all the other problems which face the working-class, such as poverty, mass unemployment and wars.

No! The solution does not lie in the control of movements of money, but in the abolition of a system of society based on private ownership with its consequent need of money and the establishment of a system of society based on the common ownership of the means of wealth production where the need for money will disappear.
N. S.

World Trade Plans (1944)

From the April 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

Under this heading the Manchester Guardian for February 8th, 1944, does some rather effective debunking of the scheme sponsored by Sir Edgar Jones, known as the World Trade Alliance.

We suppose it is a good sign when an influential organ like the “M.G.” saves us Socialists the trouble of proving that capitalist production for an unknown arbitrary market cannot be “planned.”

Briefly, the idea of the “World Trade Alliance,” which has received the blessing of the Council of the Trades Union Congress, and the sympathy of the Federation of British Industries, is “that the producers of the world’s chief export commodities should form production committees to fix prices and agree on the quantities which each national group should export.”

“A Central Clearing Bureau is expected to see to it that each country balances its exports and imports, and a World Development Commission would provide additional outlets for ‘surplus’ production by placing it cheaply or gratis in needy parts of the world.”

After pointing out that something like this has actually been tried in the “World Wheat Agreement,” the Guardian goes on to say : —
“What is proposed is that the market mechanism should be entirely replaced by quantitative regulation . . . the principle itself is based on a fallacy. . . Sir Edgar Jones speaks highly of the pre-war cartels for aluminium, rubber, tin and other raw materials. . . . Now, some of these schemes had all the restrictive vices of the textbook monopoly. . . . Few trades hold a monopoly for long and few agreements between producers survive large changes in relative costs. This scheme could work only in a world where costs of production did not change. . . . The danger lies in holding out the promise of stability to an economy like ours, which, more than almost any other in the world, must change or decay. . . . But in a moving world we can no more stop demand from changing than we can stop a tree from growing, or. at any rate, only by the same means.”
What the Guardian does NOT say is that this not merely applies to the World Trade Alliance, but also to the Atlantic Charter and the “brave new post-war world.”

The Beveridge Plan—for Saving Capitalism (1944)

From the April 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

“Why the Churchill Government did not immediately seize upon the Beveridge Report as a gift from the gods and as a splendid idea for saving and insuring the capitalist system and giving some reality to stand for national unity will probably puzzle future historians of our time.” (From “Forward,” 25th December, 1943.)

“It can be said, however, that Beveridge has performed a competent piece of work for the capitalists, and that he has shown them how the complex problems of distributing the very barest necessities to the more unfortunate members of the working-class can be organised in accordance with the best modern methods of business efficiency.“ (From “Beveridge Reorganises Poverty “ S.P.G.B., 3d. Post free 4d.)

SPGB Outdoor Meetings (1944)

Party News from the April 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

A "Done & Dusted" catch up special

The things you end up getting around to doing when your eldest son insists on watching Charles' coronation on the 'Big TV'. The last "Done & Dusted" post dates from November of last year, so here  follows a list of completed Socialist Standards that have been put on the blog in the intervening period.

Hopefully, I'll be a bit more up to speed in the future.

November 2022's "Done & Dusted"

December 2022's "Done & Dusted"

February 2023's "Done & Dusted"

Our Conference. (1905)

From the May 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

We should be less than human if we did not congratulate ourselves upon the success which has attended the holding of our First Annual Conference, and the vigour and promise displayed thereat.

When, in June of last year, those of us who felt compelled to secede from the S.D.F., on account of its inconsistent and compromising policy, decided, after very careful consideration, to found a new party, whose aim it should be to raise the Standard of Revolutionary Socialism out of the capitalist mire in which it was being dragged, we fully recognised the seriousness of the step we were taking and the difficulties we should have to encounter.

But the result has exceeded our most sanguine expectations. With one or two exceptions, where personal ambition has been stronger than the desire to act loyally to the Party, the original members have worked strenuously and harmoniously to maintain our “clear and unmistakable principles, interpreted in plain and unequivocal tactics,” as the Chairman of the Conference so ably expressed it.

Not the least notable of the achievements of our Party since its formation less than twelve months ago, has been the inauguration of the Socialist Standard, which occupies an unique position amongst journals claiming to speak on behalf of Socialism or Labour, in that it is neither the private property of individuals nor owned by any limited liability company. It is owned and controlled by our Party,—hence its fearless advocacy of our principles and its unflinching criticism of all who stand in the path of Socialist progress.

Ours has been termed a position of “splendid isolation.” It is, and we look hopefully to the future to justify us, recalling the words of our comrade Wilhelm Liebknecht: “This separation of our party from all other parties—this essential difference—is our pride and our strength.”

The First Annual Conference of The Socialist Party of Great Britain was opened on Thursday, April 20th, at 7.45 p.m., at the Communist Club, London. Twenty-one delegates attended, representing thirteen branches.

E. J. B. Allen was unanimously elected Chairman, R. H. Kent and L. Boyne, Stewards, and W. St. John Dillon, W. Gifford and J. H. Crump, Standing Orders Committee.

The Executive report, printed copies of which had been distributed among the delegates, was adopted after a few points had been raised. H. C. Phillips and H. W. Belsey questioned the right of the E.C. to include in their report suggestions for the alteration of rules which had not been submitted to the branches. Phillips asked whether the unemployed members of the Party were included in the number reported as lapsed. The General Secretary stated that all were counted as lapsed for whom cards for the current year had not been applied, and if Branch Secretaries did not renew the membership cards of their unemployed members, the Central Office could only assume that these members had lapsed. Belsey criticised the action of the E.C. in publishing a certain article by a non-member of the Party in the Official Organ, and Dumenil raised the question as to the propriety of selling at Party propaganda meetings pamphlets with S.D.F. advertisements on them. Pearson enquired why the E.C. had not decided to hold a meeting on the 1st of May, and it was pointed out that the Party was not yet strong enough numerically to hold a successful demonstration.

Belsey and Dumenil moved :
“That any article appearing in the Socialist Standard which has been contributed by a non-member of the Party be prefaced by a statement to the effect that the writer is a non-member and that the Party does not necessarily endorse the opinions therein expressed.”
This was defeated by 14 to 3.

C. Lehane and A. J. M. Gray were declared elected General Secretary and Treasurer respectively, and H. Neumann and D. R. Newlands were elected auditors. The Conference then adjourned.

The Conference resumed at 10.30 a.m. on Friday. The chairman, E. J. B. Allen, stated that many questions of importance would be discussed, and he felt assured that they would be dealt with in a manner becoming the delegates to the First Annual Conference of the Party. That Conference represented practically the beginning of the modern revolutionary movement in England. Capitalism had developed to an extent previously unknown. All the inventions that Science had been able to bring forth, every fresh extension of the domain of man over nature, had under the prevailing conditions only increased the army of the property-less workers and thinned the ranks of the exploiting class. Side by side with this development there was a ripening of the workers to full class-consciousness, and the establishment of the British wing of the International Socialist Party was an event fraught with a great and glorious significance. The Socialist Party of Great Britain stood on the revolutionary principle, and was the only party of the workers in this country. It rested on clear and unmistakable principles interpreted in plain and unequivocal tactics.

The Stewards reported the votes for the Executive Committee as follows: Elected—J. Kent, 98 ; A. Anderson, 94 ; J. Fitzgerald, 88 ; E. J. B. Allen, 86; H. Neumann, 82 ; F. C. Watts, 81; T. A. Jackson, 72 ; T. W. Allen, 57 ; J. Crump, 57 ; A. Jones, 52; F. S. Leigh, 47 ; H. C. Phillips, 42. Not elected —R. H. Kent, 40; A. Barker, 37 ; Kate Hawkins, 36; A. W. Pearson, 32 ; R. Kenny, 31; L. Boyne, 28; W. Gifford, 26 ; H. T. Davey, 21; J. J. Humphrey, 20 ; A. V. Sparks, 10.

The amendments to rules were next considered, including the recommendations of the E.C. regarding some technical alterations they thought necessary. Phillips and Belsey moved:
“Whereas the alterations to the rules as proposed by the E.C. have not appeared on the final Agenda, and taking into consideration the exceptional circumstances, resolved that the discussion of such alterations shall not be taken as a precedent at any future Conference.”
Carried nem. con. The proposals of the E.C. were then adopted, with the exception that the E.C’s. definition of the method of taking a referendum of the Party was referred to the Branches, and that the establishment of relations with the Socialist Parties of other countries shall continue as one of the functions of the E.C.

The Party's attitude on Trade Unions.

E. J. B. Allen moved :
“That whereas in the struggle for existence it is essential that the working-class be organised on the economic field, but whereas Trade Union organisations unless based on Socialist principles are a snare to the workers : resolved, that The Socialist Party of Great Britain does not recommend its members to belong to any Trade Union unless such Union is organised on definite Socialist lines with the Social Revolution as its object, and this Conference hereby pledges the Party on attaining a 5,000 membership to organise Socialist Trade Unions where necessary.”
The Mover said that the political aspect of the Trade Union question was dealt with in the Declaration of Principles of the Party, but these organisations must be dealt with quite apart from the political position. The existing Unions were, without doubt, a stumbling block to the progress of Socialism, because they did not unite the workers—on the contrary, in their capacity as job trusts they divided them,—and because they were used as tools in the hands of the master-class. While fully agreeing that industrial unionism should be an essential feature of working-class organisation, he held that the Unions as they knew them to-day were useless and a source of danger to the revolutionary movement.

The motion not being seconded fell through.

Phillips and Belsey moved :
“That any resolution adopted by the Conference be sent round the Branches as only the expression of the opinion of the Conference.”
Carried nem. con.

Belsey and Dillon moved:
“Members of the S.P.G.B. shall not voluntarily participate in the political action (i.e. action in relation to or dealing with social and economic problems) of any other party or organisation to which, by the unavoidable compulsion of obtaining or retaining employment, or other necessity arising out of capitalist conditions, they may belong: the payment of a compulsory inclusive contribution to any such organisation, part of which is devoted to political purposes, shall not be regarded as participation in such political action, but no member shall seek or accept office in any party or organisation which takes political action.”
Belsey said that attempts had been made to draw a distinction between economic and political action, but in his opinion there was no economic action that was not also political. All working-class action taken outside The Socialist Party of Great Britain was absolutely void, and while members may belong to Trade Unions when compelled by the force of circumstances, he thought it would be well if they were prohibited from taking any office in Trade Unions under any condition. This, he held, was the only logical position.

F. C. Watts moved the following amendment:
“Whereas the Trade Unions, while being essentially economic organisations, are nevertheless in many instances taking political action either to safeguard their economic existence or for other purposes and,

Whereas any basis of working-class political action other than that laid down in the Declaration of Principles of The Socialist Party of Great Britain must lead the workers into the bog of confusion and disappointment; be it therefore

Resolved that this Conference of The Socialist Party of Great Britain recommends that all members of the Party, within Trade Unions, be instructed to actively oppose all action of the Unions that is not based on the principles held by this Party.”
Watts said that up to the present nothing had been done in the Unions to reveal to their members the true basis of working-class action. The members of the party were few, but they must actively resist all unsound political action on the part of the Unions. It was impossible to form Socialist Unions at present, but the better way was to give the Party members in the Unions a definite lead, and in doing this the Conference would be doing all that was expected from it. G. R. Harris seconded,

H. Neumann said that it was impossible to separate economic from political action, for economic action was a thing of the past and the Unions were to-day taking political action. The Trades Councils and the local Labour Representation Committees were trying to get members into the local bodies and into Parliament, and the economic action of the Trade Unions was subordinate to the political. The Party could not say to its members “do not belong to the Trade Unions,” because a man to get a living must very often belong to a Union ; but there was a vast difference between compulsion for the sake of a livelihood and voluntarily going and helping the Unions in their unsound political action. All the political actions of the Trade Unions resulted only in the support of the capitalist-class. Our Declaration of Principles was not sufficient to cover the activity of Party members in Trade Unions, and when they were called upon to take part in the work of the Unions they should be compelled to refuse, whether the office was paid or not. The Party should prevent its members from going astray by laying it down definitely that they shall not take office nor do anything to help the Unions in their unsound position.

Watts denied that the Unions were primarily political organisations, or that the economic action was subordinate to the political. Economic action took place in the workshop, not at the ballot box.

J. Fitzgerald said that if it were true that there was no difference between political and economic action, then it was equally true that there was no difference between the animal and the vegetable kingdoms, no difference between the solid and the liquid. A thing should always be judged by its essential features, and this was the safe and scientific method, If there was no difference between political and economic action, why had it been discussed? An economic organisation fights on the industrial field alone. A political organisation concerns itself with the political or governmental machinery of the country. These were the essential features of economic and political aotion, and these two fields were separate and distinct notwithstanding the fact that there existed a borderland where they intermingled. There was not a Trade Union in the country that paid a tenth or a twentieth of the money towards political purposes that it did for economic action. The miners, for instance, will spend more in one strike than they will spend for generations in political action—sending representatives to Parliament. The very conditions of capitalism forced the workers to form Unions. The duty of the members of the Party was to fight against the unsound position of the Unions to-day. Craft divisions would have to be broken down, skilled and unskilled, brain and manual workers, have to join hands. The tendency of economic evolution should be pointed out, and the changes rendered necessary in the economic organisation. Trade organisation must exist to bring about Socialism, and industrial organisation would be necessary under Socialism itself. Let the members of the Party put their shoulders into the Trade Unions and carry on their work of educating straight and uncompromisingly. In this way better work could be done than by remaining outside.

The amendment was carried by 11 to 3.

Upon being put as a substantive motion, Phillips moved the following amendment:—
“Delete all after ‘Resolved’ and substitute ‘that this Conference recommends that no member of the Party shall hold any official position whatsoever in the Trade Union movement, and moreover recommends that all members of the Party within Trade Unions be instructed to actively oppose all action of Trade Unions that is not based on the principles held by this Party.’”
This was defeated by 9 to 2.

A. W. Pearson moved a further amendment:—
“That this Conference reaffirms the previous declaration of the Party.”
The Mover said that the position of the Party was very clear on the matter. If the Party were to oppose Trade Unions, it should also oppose the Co-operative Societies when they take political action. The Friendly Societies may also go in for political action, and then to be consistent the Party should not allow its members to join them.

F. Craske seconded the amendment, which was defeated by 8 to 6.

The resolution moved by Watts and Harris was then carried by 11 to 3.

Should the Party take part in municipal and parliamentary elections ? If so, upon what basis ?

Gifford was of the opinion that the elections were the best time for propaganda, because then the people took a greater interest in public questions than they did at any other time. He suggested that an electoral programme be drawn up by the E.C., explaining the position of the Party and criticising the reforms proposed by other parties.

Belsey and Dillon moved :—
“That the Party do not take part in any Parliamentary or municipal elections during the next twelve months.”
Allen thought that very little could be done either in Parliament or on local bodies until the Party had a majority of delegates on them. Meanwhile, however, the representatives of the Party on those bodies should do their best in the interests of the working-class.

Neumann said that it was entirely impracticable to mention any time within which the Party should not take political action. If in any constituency there were sufficient workers to demand a representative of class-conscious principles, the workers themselves would come forward and ask for such a representative. With regard to what the members of the Party should do when elected on governing bodies, this was shown in the Declaration of Principles, and they should support only the measures in accordance therewith. The principal thing was to get behind them a class-conscious proletariat, not Radical votes, and then their representative would be backed up in his action by those who elected him. They should be revolutionists all the time.

A. W. Pearson considered that it would take a long time before a Socialist Party man would be returned to Parliament or a local body, but when he got there he would know what to do. There were certain measures which a revolutionist could support, and he instanced the case of the Municipality of Brest which voted money to the strikers. Even when they did not put up a candidate themselves they could issue literature calling upon the workers not to vote.

Belsey explained that his resolution was not intended to prevent the issuing of literature, but aimed only at deferring direct political action by the Party for a period of one year.

Fitzgerald said that Parliament was the power that politically dominated the rest of society, and so long as it was a question of Parliamentary action there was no need for any programme at all. But it was different with regard to municipal action. The Party should contest municipal elections because it would be good propaganda, because during the elections the people took a greater interest in politics, and because the Party was out for the capture of the whole of the political machinery. The local bodies were very limited in their powers, and the Socialist position should be laid down clearly pointing out that even with a majority in power much could not be done. The capture of a municipality would, however, be a means of educating the other municipalities. Money should be voted for all possible purposes in the interests of the working-class, and the wages of municipal employes raised as high as possible, but no doubt the ruling authorities would come down on the municipality and some of its members would be imprisoned.

The resolution was defeated by 14 to 2.

The International Congress and representation thereat.

Jackson said that if they examined the British delegation to the Amsterdam Congress they would discover that it was the largest and was composed largely of non-Socialists. The I.L.P. voted for the class war resolution at the Amsterdam Congress, and afterwards scoffed at it as an obsolete Marxian dogma in their official organ.

Pearson was of opinion that the International Socialist Bureau was composed of persons opposed to the principles of this Party. The rule at the Congress was that each country must verify its own credentials, and if the delegates of the Party had refused to go into the British section they would not have been admitted to the Congress at all. They were in a minority and would have to present their credentials at Stuttgart in 1907 to the British Section.

Fitzgerald said the Conference was an International assembly composed of men of different nations, customs, and languages, and the difficulties surrounding such an assembly were very large indeed. Before it would be possible to break down the national system of representation a better education of the working-class of the world would be necessary. Different systems of representation could be adopted based upon (1) the number of members of Parliament, (2) the parties in a country, (3) the membership of the parties. The Bureau had decided that each nationality should have two votes, and when there was a dispute between two sections of the nationality they were to split the votes between them. When this was done another section in France claimed a third vote. Who is to decide and where is the question to be raised as to the rights of the parties to representation? The matter should be raised on the floor of the Congress itself. They should keep steadily fighting at the Congress for the principle that only Socialist parties should be admitted to the Congresses. When this had been done for two or three Congresses many of the other parties would adopt that view.

F. Sator thought that a manifesto ought to be issued to the Socialist Parties of the world explaining the Party’s position.

C. Lehane, General Secretary, submitted to the Conference the following questions : —
  1. Shall the Party become affiliated to the International Socialist Bureau and pay subscriptions thereto?
  2. Shall the Party demand its own delegate on the International Socialist Bureau?
  3. Shall the Party demand independent representation at the International Socialist Congress and verify the credentials of its own delegates ?
On the motion of Phillips and Belsey it was resolved that the questions be sent round the Branches for a poll of the members. Phillips and Jones moved :
“That the E.G. be instructed to draw up a series of resolutions embodying the following points:
1.—That only Socialist organisations recognising the class war in theory and practice should be represented at the International Socialist Congress.
2.—That disputes between the various parties in each country as to the genuineness of their respective organisations be settled by the Congress itself.”
After a few remarks from the Chairman the Conference closed at 8 p.m. with the singing of the “International” and cheers for the Social Revolution.

Invention: A Capitalist Monopoly. (1905)

From the May 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

Recently in a London Police Court an Engineer was charged with stealing two sheets of drawing paper belonging to his employers. The employers, however, were not so much interested in obtaining the paper as the drawings it bore. Property in drawings on paper is not defined by law, but the right to such property has been frequently asserted by enforcing the right to the paper. In this case the defendant had been sent to inspect the exhibits at Olympia Motor Exhibition, and as the result of these visits “at his employers’ directions and expense” he developed ideas for the invention of a new gear box, the rough sketch of which he outlined on paper, “doing his drawing work in his employers’ time, at his employers’ office, with his employers’ materials.” The magistrate notwithstanding discharged the defendant, it being in his judgment “impossible to say that any invention which might earn £1000 a year belonged to those who paid the inventor £3 a week.”

Now this form of property comes under the classification of “Intellectual Property,” and it will be observed that the right to such property is not legally defined, being, as the plaintiff’s solicitor put it, “as in the dark ages.” Neither did the magistrate give judgment in favour of the defendant as a matter of principle, but solely in consideration of the comparative insignificance of his salary.

Why is the right to intellectual property so ill-defined? Lafargue, in an admirable little pamphlet entitled Le Socialisme et Les Intellectuals touches upon this subject. He says :
“Material property, whatever may be its origin, is declared eternal by capitalist law : it is assured for ever to its possessor, handed down from father to son until the end of time, no power, civil or political, being able to lay sacrilegious hands upon it.

. . . . . . .

“Capitalist law has none of these considerations for intellectual property. Literary and artistic property, the only forms which the law protects, have but a precarious duration, limited (in France) to the life time of the author, and to a certain period after his death; 50 years according to the latest legislation. This moment passed, the right succumbs and falls in the public way : so that from March of the present year (1900) publishers can enrich themselves by publishing the works of Balzac, the genius of romantic literature.

“Literary property, if of importance to publishers, in reality not a very numerous class, does not yield any profit to the capitalists as a whole; but it is not thus with the property in inventions, which is of supreme importance to the industrial and commercial capitalists together. Likewise the law extends no protection whatever to it. The inventor, if he desires to defend his intellectual property against the bourgeois plunderers, must begin by buying this right by taking out a patent, which must be renewed annually. One day behind time in paying the tax, his intellectual property becomes the legitimate prey of the capitalist robbers. Even while paying this sum regularly his right is limited to 14 years (in France). During this short number of years, generally insufficient to have his invention completely adopted in practical industry ; it is he, the inventor, who at his own expense must put the legal machinery against the bourgeois plunderers who would seize it.

“The ‘trade mark,’ which is a form of capitalist property, never having demanded any intellectual effort, is on the contrary indefinitely protected by law like material property.

“The capitalist has only grudgingly granted to the inventor the right to defend his intellectual property, because by his right of reigning class, he believes himself master of the fruits of intellectual labour as well as of manual labour, just as the feudal lord arrogated to himself the right of possession over the property of his serfs.
. . . . . . .

“The capitalist-class, the most revolutionary class that has ever oppressed human society, cannot increase its riches but by incessantly revolutionising the means of production by the never-ending introduction of new applications of the mechanical, physical, and chemical sciences to the industrial tool. Its thirst for inventions is so insatiable that it has created factories of inventions. Several American capitalists have associated in organising at Mungo Park, for Edison, the most marvellous laboratory in the world. Here they have placed at his disposition an army of scientists, the aristocrats of labour, and the material means necessary to make and continue making the inventions that the capitalists patent, exploit, or sell. Edison, who is himself one of the sharpest of business men, has, however, taken precautions in order to insure his participation in the profits which the inventions of Mungo Park will yield.

”But all inventors cannot, like Edison, impose their conditions on the capitalists who build factories of inventions to exploit them. The Thompson-Houston Company at Paris, Siemens in London and Berlin, have, side by side with their electrical machinery, workshops and laboratories where engineers are engaged in research work, seeking new applications of electricity. At Frankfort in the factory of aniline colours, the largest in the world, and where the mineral antipyrine was discovered, there are more than one hundred chemists paid to discover new chemical products. Each discovery is immediately patented by the firm, which, by way of encouragement, gives some reward to the inventor.

“To a certain point we can consider all factories and workshops as laboratories of inventions, because a considerable number of improvements in machinery have been found out by the workmen in the course of work. As the inventor has not the necessary money to patent or apply his discovery, the employer takes out the patent in his own name, and thus, as bourgeois justice wishes it, it is he who gathers all the accruing profits therefrom. When the government thinks of rewarding talent it is the employer who is rewarded; the workman inventor, who is but an “intellectual,” continues toiling on as before, and as in this capitalist world one must be contented with little, he consoles himself in his misery, saying that his invention brings profit and honour to his master.

. . . . . . .

“Will the intellectuals yet hear the voice of the Socialists calling them to the rescue to free Science and Art from the capitalist yoke, and liberate thought from the slavery of wagedom?”
P. J. Tobin

Life and Times: R-E-A-L L-O-V-E (2023)

The Life and Times column from the April 2023 issue of the Socialist Standard

My local Community Centre recently advertised a Saturday evening event, a gospel choir with performers from London. Entrance was free to all. I view religion as baseless superstition, but I do enjoy gospel music. Regardless of many of the sentiments it expresses, I enjoy its energy, its rhythm and the powerful singing voices of those who perform it. And I respect the sincerity of its performers and their followers.

With this in mind I decided to go to the event. Arriving a few minutes before the start time, I was surprised to see only a sparse audience in the Community Centre hall. That, it seemed to me, would not be good for the atmosphere. But the organiser was reassuring. He announced that more people would arrive soon and in the meantime advised those present to pray. He proceeded to do so himself out loud in improvised fashion. And then more people did arrive and the show started.

Gospel rap
But I was in for a disappointment. Rather than a massed choir or Mahalia Jackson-type singers belting out Oh Happy Day, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Old-Time Religion or Amazing Grace, it was individual performers with pre-recorded backing doing what I was later told is ‘gospel rap’. Rap isn’t my favourite type of music and, since the acoustics in the hall weren’t brilliant, it was difficult to catch the words most of the time. The exception to this was a number called Real Love, since the spelt-out refrain (R-E-A-L L-O-V-E) was much repeated and gave the listeners something to hang on to. The ‘real love’ was of course love of or for God or Jesus. Fair enough given the context, but what I wasn’t expecting was the religious ‘testifying’ that punctuated the evening. Each performer, after their spot, would stay on stage, tell their story and exhort the audience to listen to and embrace the word of God or the teaching of Jesus, to put their hands in the air and even come to the front if they were moved to do so. A small number did, though these may have been members of the group who were organising the event. But their exhortations were impressively powerful and gave some kind of inkling of how the mass events of evangelising preachers are capable of gaining converts on the spot. I was reminded of the mass rallies addressed by the American Baptist preacher, Billy Graham, over many decades.

I obviously wasn’t up for conversion, but, as the event drew to a close, one of the organisers, who, when I came in, introduced himself as Dion, came and sat next to me and asked me if I was a Christian and, if so, did I want to take that further? I very politely made it clear I didn’t have Christian beliefs and wasn’t a candidate for conversion. But I also told him I’d found the concert interesting and wished him luck in any future events.

The solace of religion
What to make of that? Well, first of all, before going to a gospel concert again, I’d make sure what kind of music it was going to be. And I’d also be prepared for any evangelising, not be surprised by it and just consider it part of the show. One of those who had ‘testified’ told the gathering that he was a refugee who had the group – and Jesus – to thank for embracing him after much suffering. I could understand the force behind that. But I found it more difficult to fathom why seemingly ordinary people with the families and children they had brought with them should be involved in activities and beliefs that were so contrary to evidence and to everyday experience of life. But maybe they too, for their own reasons, needed the solace, the comfort of religious belief and its ritual and the attachment to a community it brings with it. Maybe they needed, as we all do in our own way, to feel part of a larger group, to feel, in a world that oppresses us all in so many ways, that we at least have something to hang on to.

The trouble of course is that, on top of the illusions that most people have about the way the society we live in – capitalism – works, which are a serious impediment to understanding its true nature and the urgent need for a different kind of society, religion constitutes an additional illusion in its irrational belief that there exists a supernatural entity, a supreme force that intervenes in nature and human affairs and even somehow allows us to live on after death. This is one of the reasons why socialists are opposed to religion, whether organised or otherwise, and see the socialist society of free access and democratic organisation we advocate and work for as one that will be free of religion, and indeed will have no need for the illusions religion harbours and seeks to spread.

When Dion came and sat next to me at the end of the concert, I would have liked to say those things to him, but of course it would have been unfair, as it was his ‘gig’. I would have liked to tell him that religious fantasies answer no questions about the world we live in, that humans are born into a material world, that their ideas are fashioned by that world and that they in their turn modify it. But not knowing the circumstances of his life, I may have come over as plain offensive. Maybe I could at least have pointed out that the music I’d heard that night was not ‘gospel’ as normally understood and that, when they next put on an event, I’d be glad to attend if real gospel music was on offer.
Howard  Moss

How will capitalism end? (2023)

From the April 2023 issue of the Socialist Standard
We discuss this with Steve Paxton, author of How Capitalism Ends. History, Ideology and Progress (Zero Books, 2023).
Steve Paxton’s book on Russia, Unlearning Marx. Why the Soviet Failure was a Triumph for Marx, published in 2021, stated that the development of technology under capitalism now allows the production of ‘the material abundance required by a free society’ but that the capitalist system by its very nature does not allow this to take place. His book, reviewed in the Socialist Standard in 2022, did not go so far as to propose any kind of detailed remedy for this but rather referred the reader to his upcoming book about ‘the end of capitalism and what comes next’. That book has now been published and the author has agreed to discuss it with the Socialist Standard.

Socialist Standard: Your book contains great analysis of class in terms of capitalist society being divided into two distinct classes, those who possess sufficient capital not to have to sell their energies to an employer and those – the vast majority – who aren’t in that position and have to seek paid employment to survive. It also presents a very detailed and effective demolition of arguments that insist on the inevitability of the market and deny that effective economic calculation would be possible in a non-monetary society. But to what extent do you see the end of capitalism, which is part of the title of your book, as leading to a non-monetary society, to a society without a market?

Steve Paxton: I don’t see a post-capitalist society as necessarily having no room for markets at all. Just as markets existed before capitalism, they may well exist after capitalism. The important thing is that there will be significant differences from the way markets operate under capitalism. In pre-capitalist societies, you couldn’t consider the markets in labour or commodities as free markets in the way that people do under capitalism. So in a post-capitalist future, we might still see markets, but they’re likely to be very different from those we experience under capitalism. The first thing we need to remember is that socialism makes an important distinction between ownership of the means of production and ownership of personal property. Impersonal property is incompatible with socialism, but nobody’s coming for your toothbrush or your bicycle. So I think there’s always room for some kind of market mechanism, the difference being the ownership pattern underlying that market mechanism. The problem with capitalism isn’t that people buy and sell things. It’s the position we start from, in which the only thing one group of people have to sell is their labour power, and they have to do that to survive. So, I guess it’s important to really define what we mean by capitalism. There are in fact competing ideas of what capitalism means. And that’s the case even within Marx. Sometimes he talks about it as a mode of production, and sometimes he talks about it as an economic structure. But I like to take Marx’s idea of capitalism as an economic structure, the sum of class relations, of production relations. It’s basically who owns what and what ownership means is what defines capitalism. So, under capitalism, the dominant production relation is that most people are proletarians, which means they own only their labour power. They’re free to sell that labour power to any capitalist, but because they own no productive forces, they’re actually unfree, in that they must sell that labour power just to survive. So, if that’s how we view capitalism, then markets in themselves are not intrinsically or inherently capitalist. Capitalism is defined by the concentration of ownership of productive resources in very few hands and the consequences that flow from that. It’s true that, once you have a market, you have the potential that some people are just better at buying and selling. But it also has to be said that most of the inequality of ownership under capitalism doesn’t come from the particular skills of entrepreneurs. It comes from people starting with a massive fortune in the first place and starting with lots of resources. So if you remove those things, then the ability to get rich from a market becomes much more limited. At the same time, there’s no hard and fast rule that everyone’s income must be equal.

SS: So how would you see a more equal society with money and a market working?

SP: Under socialism, you might have a situation where, for example, there’s basic income, and on top of that, maybe people that do particularly unpleasant work, particularly hard work, work that no one else wants to do, or maybe work that requires a particular set of skills, will be rewarded more. But these differences would, again, be differences in income, not wealth. And they would be very, very limited compared to today’s great inequalities. Providing income inequality, is structurally limited, it needn’t in itself be a bad thing. Then the person who chooses to work 20 hours a week rather than 40 shouldn’t mind not getting some of the benefits. That’s the choice that people can make under socialism. It’s not a choice they can make under capitalism. So I think that, while it’s possible that we might be able to work out a way to get by without markets at all, just the existence of markets doesn’t necessarily derail the socialist project.

SS: What would be your objections to a moneyless, wageless society as opposed to the kind of thing that you’ve described? After all, Marx did talk about socialism as the abolition of the wages system.

SP: I don’t really have an objection to it, but I think it’s also something that isn’t a necessary component of moving beyond capitalism. It might be something that we need to go through a few more stages before we arrive at. It might be that, once we’ve got rid of all the stuff that is actually the real problem with capitalism, then we realize that money wasn’t really the problem in the first place. When people talk about getting rid of money and using labour vouchers or tokens, that’s just money, isn’t it? That’s just calling money something else. Maybe we should have different currencies. So you get a basic income in one money that you can spend on basic necessities. And then, if you want to contribute more, particularly if you’re prepared to do an unpleasant job or work longer hours, then you get a different currency that you can spend on luxuries. Anyway, we need to focus on getting rid of the real problems of capitalism, which are the fact that a small number of people own all the productive resources and most people own no productive resources.

SS: Just to clarify that we definitely wouldn’t suggest labour vouchers or tokens as a replacement for money. What we suggest is a society of free access to all goods and services, where you wouldn’t need labour vouchers or tokens. When Marx talked about labour vouchers, he was talking about the possibility of using them at an earlier stage of productive development. We would argue that we are now well past that stage and that enough can be produced now to satisfy everyone’s needs the world over, if goods and services are produced and distributed rationally. But to move to something a little bit different, at one point in your book you refer to a socialist government, and you seem to be favourable to the kind of political position of the Labour Party under Corbyn. But can there be such a thing as a socialist government given that in, in Marxian terms, governments are the executive committee of the capitalist class, and therefore a socialist society should involve the abolition of government over people as we know it and its replacement by the cooperative administration of things?

Steve Paxton
I do write from a Marxist point of view, but I tend not to describe myself as a Marxist because, when you do that, people expect you to defend everything Marx said or wrote. On the other hand, I think you can see Marx’s ideas as a coherent whole while not necessarily defending everything he had to say. But I’m not an anarchist and I guess I’m looking a bit more short-term. I’m looking at what our next horizons should be. There’s very short term, for example not having a Tory government, saving the NHS and things like that. And there’s very long term and the ideal society that might be moneyless and have no government. But there’s a big chunk there in between, which is what we should be aiming for. On governments, I do agree that they’re the committee of the ruling class. But that’s under capitalism. Governments under socialism don’t have to be of that kind; they can represent a different interest. They can represent the people rather than the ruling class. In terms of leadership style and some of his policy positions, Corbyn was closer to my position than any other Labour leader since I was in short trousers. Labour as it stands, after a hundred or something years, isn’t really representing the working people. We need a socialist party. I know you would say there is one, the Socialist Party of Great Britain. But we need a socialist party with mainstream political clout. We need socialist MPs, but those MPs who would describe themselves as socialist are unfortunately trapped inside the Labour Party. First of all, we need to get rid of the first past the post electoral system. But there’s also plenty to do outside Parliament in terms of trade unions and industrial relations and worker organization.

SS: What you seem to be saying is that, if we look too far into the future, that takes the focus away from what’s happening right now and the possibility of immediate improvements in workers’ conditions. The Socialist Party would tend to argue more or less the opposite. That is, if you focus on short-term reforms, slight changes to the system, any of which could be easily withdrawn anyway, then you take the focus away from the longer term from the possibility of a really equal society, which we could have if enough people wanted it and were prepared to work towards it. In other words, if you put off the demand for socialism, aren’t you putting off socialism and, in that light can’t reforms actually be the enemy of revolution?

SP: I’m not really advocating that we should focus on short-term gains. I’m saying that we shouldn’t reject and we shouldn’t criticize those who do focus on short-term gains. If they’re fighting for a better minimum wage, I’m not their enemy and they’re not mine. We’ve got plenty of enemies, without picking on people who want basically the same as us but are maybe less ambitious. So, while I think our focus should be on a transformation of society away from capitalism into socialism, I also think that we’re not going to get there in one fell swoop, and so the way has to be incremental, via small gains, but gains that make a transformative difference rather than those that just make capitalism a bit less unpalatable. There’s nothing that says that we must have some kind of sudden or dramatic change to get from capitalism to socialism. It’s most likely to happen by gradual and peaceful means. It’s where we end up that’s the most important thing, not how many steps it takes to get there. People are suffering under capitalism, so obviously the sooner the better, but also it needs to be something that’s sustainable. But we shouldn’t underestimate the positive role that the state could play. It’s happened before – with the NHS for example. No one took any violent action to seize any hospitals. The NHS was the obvious answer to people’s healthcare needs. So the state can offer a better alternative than the private sector. And that can apply to education and housing too.

SS: We’d absolutely agree with you that violent conflict couldn’t be on the agenda to achieve socialism, but in response to your incremental focus, how do you see democratic political action by a majority at the ballot box to bring in the kind of system of free access to goods and services that we advocate, even if you think that is a long way off? Given that we already live in a post-scarcity world, where we can produce everything we need, isn’t it just a question of planning so that it can be made available in a freely accessible way once a majority at the ballot box votes for representatives who are in favour of that?

SP: One problem is that we can’t have socialism when there is the number of socialists that we have now. We need to have more socialists. But the problem with that is that many of the people that see themselves as socialists spend all their time insulting the kind of people that are closest to us on the ideological spectrum and berating them for not yet being socialists. What we need to do is to actually convince them to be socialists. And then, as I’ve said before, an obstacle is the lack of proportional representation. If we had a democratic electoral system where everybody’s vote counted for the same amount, we could end up with a socialist party with, you know, maybe 20 or 30 MPs. And that would be enough to say we’re not coming into coalition with anyone unless we get these red lines. We want this minimum wage, for example. That doesn’t drive us past capitalism, but it moves us in the right direction. It’s a process of bringing people on a journey. Look at the huge amount the first post-war Labour government did, and then even in the sixties when Wilson got in, they pushed again. So many things were nationalized. But they made the mistake of not introducing a democratic electoral system. If they had, Thatcher would never have become Prime Minister and all these things that we gained in the post-war period wouldn’t have been wiped out over the last 30 or 40 years.

SS: We wouldn’t see proportional representation within capitalism as constituting any kind of step towards socialism. Some countries do of course already have proportional representation, but would you say that this has moved them any closer to socialism?

SP: Well, you could also look at somewhere like New Zealand, which has got proportional representation and is much better off for it. The Scandinavian countries too. The usual experience of proportional representation is that those countries that have it end up being more progressive and less in thrall to the interests of global capital. Of course, there are still capitalist governments in all of those countries, but they are generally less right-wing than the governments in places like Britain and America. Having said that, I agree that proportional representation doesn’t deliver anything on its own, but without it we’re not really going anywhere.

SS: You may have noticed that, in recent years, there’ve been lots of what you might broadly call anti-capitalist books published and some of these at least are arguing the same kind of things as the Socialist Party. They’re arguing that the only way to get rid of capitalism is to get rid of the market, money and the wages system. You yourself touch on this in your book, when you refer to Marx’s description of socialism as a society based on from each according to ability to each according to need. So do you think there’s a possibility that in the future you might move to this kind of position yourself, that, rather than arguing that things need to get a bit better gradually, you might join us in asking for the whole pie now?

SP: That is what I think we should be asking for, but, realistically, are we going to get it? There are two things we have to have: a vision of where we want to get to, and a vision of how we get there. I think you look a bit further into the future than I do. And I think that, if we can get rid of capitalism as I’ve defined it – the means of production owned by a tiny number of private individuals – then we’re moving towards some kind of system of common ownership. That’s my focus, and ultimately I think the marketless, moneyless society is one of the ways in which we protect that. But while it’s good that people should try to work out recipes for the future society, you have to acknowledge that, by the time we get there, some of those assumptions that those people are making aren’t going to be true anymore. I think it’s still a worthwhile project to try and envisage the kind of details of exactly how the future society would operate, as people like Michael Albert and Ben Burgis are doing. But I also think that we have to accept that, if you tried to do that in 1820, you’d have a horse pulling a cart instead of an engine. In other words we always have to adapt our ideas as we go along. But once we have the big change – that is in the ownership of the means of production – once that’s held in common, then we can look at all the other ideas – maybe to labour tokens or to a moneyless society with the market completely eradicated and free access. But those arguments weren’t really in the scope of my book.

SS: We don’t actually go in for, as Marx put it, ‘recipes for the cookshops of the future’ either, but we do try to outline a broad structure for the future society we advocate. So we’d agree that, when we get the society we’re aiming for, the particular level of development and technology reached at the time will determine the exact details of production, distribution and social organization. Does that seem reasonable to you?

SP: Yes. For example, we now have this situation where producing more copies of something doesn’t have an additional cost. If you’re going to buy more than one copy of my book on Kindle, it doesn’t cost anything. That server is running already. The electricity is being used, the storage space is there, the bandwidth is there. Whether one person or a thousand people buy it tomorrow, it doesn’t cost the printer, the publisher, the retailer any more. And that kind of thing didn’t really exist until very recently. Many of the things we would need would have zero marginal cost per unit sold. And that makes a massive difference in how an economy could work and why people choose one thing over another, a massive difference that, even 50 years ago, people could probably not have envisaged.
(Interview by Howard Moss.)

Pathfinders: Fancy a chat, GPT? (2023)

The Pathfinders Column from the April 2023 issue of the Socialist Standard

The current tech buzz is that an AI language module called Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer is threatening to turn global industries almost upside-down. OpenAI launched ChatGPT in November 2022, Microsoft announced a $10bn investment in January this year, and by February it was valued at $29bn. This prompted Google bosses to hit the panic button and reassign tech staff to the urgent task of developing an AI competitor, now hurriedly launched as Google Bard.

ChatGPT is causing a fuss, to put it mildly. Chinese universities have banned it, and the UK Guardian newspaper is calling for government regulation ( It doesn’t just write plausible academic essays in seconds, it can write commercial copy, speeches, song lyrics, film scripts, poems, music, and computer programs. You name it, basically.

These chatbots don’t work like an ordinary search engine, which looks for exact matches to spit back at you. Instead they use statistical analysis to shape their output based on what and how (they think) people most commonly write, and by extension what they believe, rather than on objective accuracy. This could have implications for socialists. For example, if 90% of sampled text thinks ‘socialism’ means Hitler and Pol Pot, the chatbot will think so too. However, it seems that AIs can be surprisingly even-handed, and often show a liberal or left-wing rather than conservative bias ( But they can also get facts embarrassingly wrong, as Google Bard did recently ( This is worrying when you consider that medical AI chatbots are in development ( Mental health services have already been criticised for using them (

You can try ChatGPT yourself, by signing up at You could ask it, say, to compose an ode to your lustfully intended in the style of Byron or Keats, make up a bedtime story for your kids, debug your computer code, or give you a cheat-sheet on dialectical materialism. Some intrepid socialists have already quizzed it on socialist theory, as they discuss on our Forum ( They conclude that it’s not terrible, and actually gets quite a lot right, if not everything.

To give you a taste, further down this page is a ChatGPT-generated ‘poem’ about abolishing money, and a short essay in response to the request ‘write an article in the style of Pathfinders in the Socialist Standard’. As you’ll see, the poem is a somewhat McGonagall-esque paean to barter systems, while ‘Pathfinders’ is a waffly and generic exercise showing that when it doesn’t know something, it hedges its bets. But still, not terrible. Then the AI does something distinctly odd. It produces an alleged quote from the Socialist Standard which is almost certainly made up, before ending abruptly with a network failure, as if it’s developed a migraine.

In response to the question ‘Do you ever invent quotes?’ ChatGPT gives an interesting answer: 
As an AI language model, I do not have the capacity to invent quotes on my own. However, I can generate quotes based on patterns and combinations of words from my training data, which includes a vast collection of texts and speeches from various sources. However, it is important to note that these generated quotes are not necessarily attributed to any specific person or source, and they should not be taken as fact or used as a source of reliable information.
In other words, it does invent quotes, but because it has compiled the words from multiple sources, it does not consider the quote to be an ‘invention’. Moreover, it will mine these sources from anywhere, without bothering about attribution. This point is actually the cause of a huge global controversy. GPT doesn’t care who authored what, it’s all just ‘training data’. In short, it ignores intellectual property rights, a core concept that underpins capitalism.

ChatGPT slurps up vast volumes of information and serves it back up in spaghettified form with no regard for original sources, a process one incensed artist describes as ‘automated intellectual asset-stripping’ ( Fine artists and graphic designers have good reason to be worried (as an example, see a set of AI paintings done in the style of Van Gogh here – ChatGPT is a language module, so it doesn’t paint pictures, but instead appropriates the output of the entire news and creative media industry, including novelists, writers, bloggers and journalists. How comprehensively these assets are being stripped may be judged by the fact that AI chatbots are predicted to hit a ceiling in 2026 as they run out of training data (

Google is currently in a spat with the Canadian government over the state’s insistence that AI-generated news stories should be paid for, to which Google has retaliated by censoring news outlets from Canadian search results ( More legal wrangling will undoubtedly ensue globally, but there’s no putting this genie back in the bottle. When disruptive technologies collide with capitalism’s own practices and priorities, it’s the disruptors that usually win. And this one is striking at the beating heart of the system, the sacred institution of private property.

One might be tempted to see this as a spanner that could wreck the machinery of the profit system, but capitalism is nothing if not adaptable. And besides, it’s worth asking whether a creative artist, even in socialism, would be comfortable seeing their own work hijacked, dismembered, and then served up piecemeal without their contribution ever being acknowledged. Democratic common ownership is far preferable to capitalism’s squalid property wars, but still, that surely doesn’t make plagiarism ok.

A new finding this month overturns what was stated in the March Pathfinders column. A re-examination of the study data reveals that the happiest people do in fact continue to get happier above an income level of $75,000, it’s only the most unhappy high-earners who don’t ( You’ll certainly be relieved to know that the rich are having a good time after all.
Paddy Shannon

Pathfinders by ChatGPT (2023)

The (Extra) Pathfinders Column from the April 2023 issue of the Socialist Standard
ChatGPT response to: ‘Please write an article in the style of the Pathfinders column in the Socialist Standard’.
The Pathfinders column in the Socialist Standard has long been a source of inspiration for those looking to explore the ideas and principles of socialism. It is a space for comrades to share their experiences and insights on the path towards a better world, free from the shackles of capitalism and exploitation.

Today, we take a look at the path towards socialism, and what it means for those who walk it. As socialists, we believe that the current system is fundamentally flawed and that we need to fundamentally change the way we organize our society.

But how do we get there? How do we move from the current system of capitalism to a socialist society? The answer is not a simple one, and there are many different paths that one can take.

One path towards socialism is through education and organizing. By raising awareness about the realities of capitalism, we can begin to build a movement of people who are committed to challenging the status quo. This can be done through a variety of means, such as street canvassing, social media outreach, and community organizing.

Another path towards socialism is through direct action. This involves challenging the system of capitalism through protests, strikes, and other forms of civil disobedience. Direct action can be an effective way to raise awareness and put pressure on those in power to make changes.

A third path towards socialism is through political action. This involves working within the existing political system to achieve socialist aims. This can include supporting socialist candidates, pushing for policy changes, and building coalitions with other left-leaning groups.

Regardless of the path that one chooses, the goal is always the same: to build a society that prioritizes the needs of the many over the profits of the few. Socialism is not just an economic system, but a social and political system that seeks to empower people and create a more just and equitable society.

As we continue to walk the path towards socialism, we must remain committed to the principles of equality, democracy, and solidarity. We must be willing to learn from each other, to challenge our assumptions, and to work together towards a better world.

In the words of the Socialist Standard, “The path to socialism is not an easy one, but it is a path worth walking… (network error).
My Poem 
In a world where money reigns supreme
We’re trapped in a cycle that seems obscene
People chasing riches, day and night
While others struggle to simply survive

But what if we could break this chain
And abolish money, its power wane
Imagine a world where wealth’s not king
Where sharing and compassion rule everything

No more poverty, no more greed
No more hoarding what others need
The value of goods, services, and time
Measured not by dollars, but by a fairer design

What if we could trade and barter
Without the need for monetary charter
Goods and services exchanged with ease
Based on mutual benefit, not profit to seize

It might seem like a distant dream
But perhaps it’s closer than it seems
A world without money is hard to conceive
But it’s worth exploring what we could achieve

So let’s imagine, let’s dream, let’s strive
To build a world where money does not thrive
Where we value each other, our planet, and our lives
And in our hearts, a better future thrives.

(Poem by ChatGPT, aged 0 years 6 months)