Monday, December 10, 2007

Socialism in a nutshell

Socialism must be comprised of three main things:

1. Common Ownership.
2. Democratic Control.
3. Production solely for use.

These features of socialist society would be dependent on each other and could only operate together as basic parts of an integrated social system. In combination, these define a way of organizing society that in every important aspect of production, distribution, decision making and social administration, is clearly distinguished from the operation of capitalist society.

1. Common ownership means that the entire structure of production and all natural resources be held in common by all people. This means that every person will stand in equal relationship with every other person with respect to the means of producing the things we need to live, that is, mines, industrial plants, manufacturing units, all land and farms, and all means of transport and distribution. This also means the common ownership of all natural resources. Perhaps "common ownership" is partly a misnomer because what is meant is that means of production and resources would not be owned by anyone. In place of the property relationships of owners and non-owners, means of production will simply be available to the whole community to be used and developed solely for the needs of all people.

2. Democratic control means that social policy would be decided by communities. In place of rule by governments, public decisions would be made by people themselves. One great advantage of democratic practice in socialism would be not only the organization of decision making but also the freedom to carry out those decisions. This freedom of action would arise from direct control of community affairs following the enactment of common ownership and removal of the economic constraints of the capitalist system. Without powers of action decision-making is meaningless.

3. Production solely for use means just what it says. People in socialism would be free to co-operate voluntarily with each other in producing goods directly for the needs of the community. This would be useful labor co-operating to produce useful goods solely for consumption. Production solely for use would replace production for sale at a profit. Things produced for sale under the capitalist system are of course intended to supply a need of one kind or another but as commodities they are produced primarily with a view to money gain and the increase of money capital. As a general rule the market system is a system of 'no profit no production'. In socialism this profit motive would be entirely removed. In a moneyless socialist society the factors of production would operate only in a useful form and not as economic categories with a price. Labor would not be wage labor serving the interests of an employer but would be free labor. People at work would be creating only useful things and not economic values from which profit is derived.

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