A World Without Money - Is It Possible?
Source: Socialism or Your Money Back Blog / The Socialist Party of Great Britain
Republished with permission.
What do Socialists mean when we say we want to abolish money? Are we advocating a return to a barter system,where people would, perhaps, swap three tins of beans for one smoked haddock?
Not at all. The abolition of money means that every single person will be able to take freely from the store of social wealth whatever he or she needs. We are envisaginging a society where there will be no restrictions (such as are imposed today by the size of your wage packet or salary cheque) on the amount of goods and services which any individual consumes, enjoys, or uses. No exchange, buying and selling prices, or profits. Instead a system of free access.
But, we are often asked, can enough food, clothing, shelter, etc. be produced to make such a system possible? The answer is undoubtedly YES. Human knowledge of production techniques has increased fantastically over the last hundred years. We are now in a situation of potential abundance.
However this potential can only be realised when the world's resources are used rationally to benefit the World Community. The great problem at present is that the means of producing wealth are owned and controlled by a small minority and operated for their benefit. This results in an artificial scarcity being maintained by a massive waste and misuse of resources.
For example, deliberate underproduction to keep up prices — it is general practise for farmers in North America and Europe to be paid by the government for not producing food.
Completed products lie unused or are even destroyed — in London and other cities huge offices blocks often stand empty for years while thousands are homeless. Perfectly edible food is destroyed when it cannot be sold profitably.
Cars, radios, televisions and many other goods have planned obscolescence built into them — in other words they are designed to fall apart relatively quickly so the consumer has to buy another one.
Millions of people toil away doing jobs that are totally unproductive and are only needed in a private property system, e.g. bank clerks, shop assistants, bus conductors, soldiers, police, lawyers, etc., and throughout the world, millions more are unemployed.
Automative techniques that could greatly increase output (and also eliminate, many boring jobs) are often not adopted due to it being more profitable to use labour,
If all this waste were eliminated and the whole social effort of production was directly geared to meeting human needs there would certainly be enough for all.
However some people object that if goods and services were free people would be greedy and take far more than they needed. "What would happen if everybody in the world wanted 500 packets of cornflakes each?" Socialists are sometimes asked. But greed is not innate. It only occurs because there is a condition of scarcity and a desire to acquire goods is encouraged by advertising etc.. When the normal situation is one of abundance people have no reason to take more than they need. For example, even in today's society people do not grab and hoard as much water as they can.
Another objection sometimes made to the case for free access is that if people could just take what they needed nobody would work. However work in Socialism should not be equated with the drudgery and degradation of employment under capitalism. With boring and unpleasant jobs automated and people having control over what is produced and how,work could be an enjoyable and creative experience. Moreover such a society could only exist when the mass of the population were in favour of it, and people would, hardly be likely to act in a way that might destroy a system which they actively supported.
This brings us to our last point. It is obvious that we are advocating a society so different from today's that it would be impossible to establish it merely by electing a new government, or by passing reforms within the present structure. The only way is for the majority of the world's working class to organise democratically and independently to capture political power,and effect a revolutionary change by transforming the means of production into the common property of the world's people.
Freedom – Equality – Solidarity
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