Socialist revolution, or phony socialism?
Updated: 21 May 2008, 23:53
Originally written: 01 November 2005
Socialism will be a revolutionary change in society.
Some dictionary definitions:
revolution: Complete change, turning upside down, great reversal of conditions, fundamental reconstruction, esp. forcible substitution by subjects of new ruler or polity for the old.At the very base of the change pyramid, upon which everything rests, is the complete replacement of capitalism’s mode of production. Instead of production for profit, we will produce for use. Under capitalism, the operative question for all production is whether or not the production can generate a profit. In the socialist mode of production, the questions will be more like:
The Concise Oxford Dictionary, Fourth Edition
revolution: Complete change.
Webster's New Compact Desk Dictionary
revolution: Overthrow of a government, social system, etc.
Webster's New Compact Desk Dictionary
revolution: The overthrow and replacement of a government or political system by those governed.
The Doubleday Dictionary
revolution: Any extensive or drastic change.
The Doubleday Dictionary
- Will the result of production be useful?
- Do people want the goods to be produced?
- Are people willing to produce those goods?
- Will production be safe for the workers?
- Will production be safe for our environment?
- Are the raw resources too scarce for this product?
- Are there higher priorities?
That is not a revolutionary change at all! It is just more of the same. Most of the governments of capital learned a long time ago that the best way to prevent a socialist revolution is to prevent the worst excesses of capitalism. The level considered “excessive” goes up and down, but is generally much lower than it was 100 years ago. The fakers — just like the avowedly pro-capitalist governments — are just arguing with the capitalists over how bad capitalism should be for workers. Socialists do not argue with the capitalists. When people establish socialism, the discussion will be about how much workers can improve the world for workers.
A key factor in production in socialism is that work will be voluntary. That, in itself, forces consideration of the questions suggested above. Unlike employment, work in a socialist society will not be forced labour. Workers will not work unless the production is desirable. That will be real empowerment!
UtilityIf a product will not be useful, people will not work to produce it. Workers — who are the end users of all products from toothbrushes to factories — will not see much point in producing junk for themselves. Instead they will want to produce quality items, which will be useful for them and their society.
An example of a useless product is money itself. It will have no use, so it will not be produced. Heavy artillery, and nuclear weapons will have no use, so they will not be produced. Chemical and biological warfare agents will have no use, so they will not be produced. Aircraft carriers will have no use, so they will not be produced.
What kind of a society could consider nuclear weapons and poison gas, useful? Capitalism.
DesirabilityIf you have ever been convinced to buy something for which you really have no use, you will understand the concept of “manufactured needs.” Under capitalism, there is an industry devoted to manufacturing needs. The advertising industry produces nothing which is useful, except to capitalists. The advertising industry convinces you — using every trick in the book — that you need whatever is produced for profit.
In a socialist society, profit will not exist so it will not be a reason to produce and to create “needs.” If a product can only be desirable as a result of advertising tricks, it will not be produced. Workers will produce things which people do not have to be tricked into “needing.”
AcceptabilityIf people do not think that a product should be produced, they simply will not produce it. There will be no paycheques forcing workers to produce. If workers do not think that they should make gold-plated faucets, or build fabulous mansions for a tiny elite class (both of which are produced today) they will not. Workers will not believe that it is acceptable to produce weapons of war, so they will not.
Safe WorkplacesWith profit safely out of the way, safety will become a practical alternative to unnecessary workplace injury and death. Contrary to the beliefs of some, injury and death are still a part of capitalism’s workplaces.
EnvironmentWorkers today know that the factories in which they work belch out almost unimaginable amounts of toxic waste. Workers today cannot tell the owners to clean up their act. When workers own the world, we will be able to make real progress on preventing pollution and cleaning up the toxins already in our environment. This will not be altruism. This will be self defense.
Raw ResourcesAs a society we will have to decide how to allocate scarce resources (perhaps there are no other kinds of resources, but scarce). Instead of the short term horizon of capitalism, we will be able to look out hundreds of years to plan our use of resources so that we will still have resources in hundreds of years.
We will also have to allocate not only over time, but between producing different things which require the same resources. Under capitalism the decision is made based upon greatest profit. For example, say that a rare metal can be used to produce a part for a jet fighter aircraft (maybe a $2,000 screwdriver), or an $800 part for an artificial arm. It does not take a genius to figure out that the artificial arm — and the person who lost an arm in an industrial “accident” — will not get the part.
PrioritiesSocialist society may decide that retaining old-growth forests is a higher priority than building wooden fences, or it may decide the exact opposite. Either way, society will be setting the priorities. Under capitalism, the wooden fences would get built, unless there was huge outcry. And, if the trees remained standing, the company which licensed or owned the trees would be entitled to compensation for the loss of profit. Either way, profits come first under capitalism.
SocialismSocialism will be a revolutionary change for society. The end of class society will finally allow people to run society for the overall benefit of everyone, not for a privileged minority. The fakers with their phony “socialism” have convinced most people that failed approaches to running capitalism are “socialism.” The popular notions of socialism are travesties.
Only a revolutionary change can solve the problems of capitalism. Socialism is the only desirable future.