The idea of society placing human needs above the profit motive is certainly an old one. Critics say that it cannot be done, yet in our current society the goal of meeting human needs is still there- but the accumulation of capital takes a priority. The priority of the accumulation of profit over human needs squanders the value of human life to the point where exploitation and even death of the individual is acceptable so long as it generates capital. It turns man against himself so much so that two hostile classes emerge in the capitalist mode of production (the history of all hitherto existing society is of course- the history of class struggle). There is the class which owns the means of creating wealth- the bourgeoisie, yet they themselves create nothing and live off the fruits of the labor of those who do. Then there is the class which makes up the overwhelming majority of society- the proletariat, or the working class who have nothing but their own labor power to sell off. This class creates all the commodities of modern society, it creates not only the commodities, but the machines that create the commodities. It is the provider of all, nothing gets done without the proletariat. Socialism takes this order of one class owning everything and creating nothing and the other class owning nothing and creating everything and flips it upside-down. It declares that no longer will one be able to live off of- let alone make a fortune off of the hard work of other people. No longer are the producers of society impoverished and all will enjoy the fruits of their common labor- not a handful of rich men. The means of production which were previously owned by a small minority of society become the ownership not of the state (state-capitalism, as what happened in the USSR) but of the workers themselves. Socialism (and especially Communism) ,like capitalism have nothing to do with the government. It means the abolition of private (not personal) property. It means that the land belongs to those who till it, the homes to those who dwell within them, and the factories and businesses to those who work within them. A radical new concept is introduced into the workplace: democracy. Wage labor is abolished as the worker reaps the whole of the fruit of his labor (excluding of course taxes, costs of maintaining the business, etc) instead of having the lions share taken by the capitalist who did nothing to earn it but ‘own’ the means of generating wealth. The ruling class in such a society becomes the workers themselves- for the first time in human history the ruling class becomes the class of the majority and not a small elite. This allows real (both political and economic) democracy to flourish. Democracy for the majority instead of merely the minority (even with universal suffrage our ‘democracy’ still serves the rich) as the majority is the ruling class. Instead of society allowing someone to get rich off the labor of others without they themselves working, society declares that ‘those who do not work (excluding the disabled), do not eat’. This is, of course but a step towards eliminating social classes (the privileged relations to the means of production, not differences in wealth per se) altogether. Just 62 people own as much wealth as the bottom 3.5 billion, under socialism labor is directly proportional to capital received. Under communism it (taking a surplus from society) is directly proportional to the NEEDS of the individual. In this regard socialism is a step up from capitalism in that labor is actually proportional to wealth- instead of a flat wage given out regardless of work done. But an independent man earns as much as a single mother of 4 assuming they have the same job and work the same amount. This is still an injustice- even under socialism. Communism swipes this injustice away by inscribing upon the banner of society, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his NEEDS”. Thus the single mother of 4 does what she can and takes from society what she NEEDS. All basic human needs are met and luxuries are also provided to the masses. Of course, even under socialism the well being of the individual is placed much higher than under capitalism. The very basic human needs for all people will be met under socialism, but the injustice of ‘he who does not work, does not eat’ still continues until communism is achieved. Regardless, socialist society puts people and the planet before profit. Instead of setting human empathy and morality aside in the name of greed is no more. Freedom for all (something that is only an illusion in our own society) certainly seems more realized under socialism than under capitalism, but it is only truly realized under communism- once the state itself has withered away and class struggle is no more. Under capitalism there is the illusion of ‘volunteerism’. This however is false. When the economy is privately owned the worker has no choice to sell but what he owns- his labor. As Peter Kropotkin said, “We cry shame on the feudal baron who forbade the peasant to turn a clod of earth unless he surrendered his lord a fourth of his crop. We called those barbarous times. But if the forms have changed, the relations have remained the same, and the worker is forced, under the name of free contract, to accept feudal obligations. For, turn where he will, he can find no better conditions. Everything has become private property, and he must accept, or die of hunger.” The worker under capitalism can accept the conditions of capitalist society- to be oppressed or to he himself oppress, or die of hunger. A better world IS possible. These are not pipe-dreams. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.
In a truly democratic system THE PEOPLE would only ALLOW candidates they (the majority) like and approve of to make it this far. But because capital has such a sway, things are not democratic. Don’t be fooled. This election is a sheer and complete mockery of even the word ‘democracy’. The people hate both candidates and the only reason one will win is because they are slightly less hated than the other. The American people are being fooled to vote against their own interests in a two-party oligarchy under the guise of a democratic process. Indeed the people are allowed to elect every 2 or 4 years which members of the ruling class they want to oppress them, but universal suffrage was not intended to be this way, it was intended to SERVE THE PEOPLE. Government in capitalist society serves the capitalist, not the working masses. It seeks only to defend the prevailing social order and to limit and cripple any real social change- including the expansion of democratic rights (such as REAL political democracy along with economic democracy) and civil liberties which are impossible under capitalism. Freedom, democracy, equality, liberty and justice are grand words. But in our society it is only freedom to conform, democracy which is truncated, false- a snare which deceives the poor and the oppressed into thinking real social change is possible under the prevailing social order. It is not equality (as was promised to be delivered under capitalism circa the French Revolution) but rather the highest rate of inequality in all of human history, liberty only for the wealthy and justice is served out only to the poor. These grand words inscribed upon the banner of our society are utterly and completely false in material reality, and will remain so as long as the prevailing social order continues to exist.
I found this quote that sums up the idea of socialism pretty clearly. To be fair I am a Trotskyist and am VERY critical of Stalin and Stalinism but on this issue he hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately the USSR never actually achieved socialism as Stalin, equating the dream with the reality for the Russian people declared socialism having been achieved. The state had seized the means of production- achieving state-capitalism which was a necessary prerequisite to socialism in countries (like Russia, China, etc.) which had not undergone an advanced capitalist phase of development. Lenin recognized the neccesity of this and had great confidence that the party would see socialism through. But in the 30’s Stalin- after some 15 years of revolutionary struggle and hardship on account of the Russian people made a political decision to tell the Russian people that ‘socialism has been achieved’, that what Russia had WAS socialism. Of course any marxian economist can tell you that it was not socialism as the state owned and controlled the means of production- and not the workers. What Russia had is what we call state-capitalism, which is inherently authoritarian because the state (and not the workers democratically) controlled the economy. Socialism has nothing to do with the government. Like capitalism it can be libertarian or authoritarian in nature. I myself prefer a small government- and yes I am a socialist. There is another misconception about socialism which I think Stalin (sigh) clears up very well. The misconception that the egalitarianism of socialism is not mere equal chance to succeed but actual, forced equality. This is ludicrous as Stalin clarifies by saying,
“The kind of socialism under which everybody would receive the same pay, an equal quantity of meat, an equal quantity, of bread, would wear the same kind of clothes and would receive the same kind of goods and in equal quantities—such a kind of socialism is unknown to Marxism. All that Marxism declares is that until classes have been completely abolished, and until work has been transformed from being a means of maintaining existence, into a prime necessity of life, into voluntary labour performed for the benefit of society, people will continue to be paid for their labour in accordance with the amount of labour performed. ‘From each according to his capacity, to each according to the work he performs,’ such is the Marxian formula of socialism, i.e., the first stage of communism, the first stage of a communist society. Only in the highest phase of communism will people, working in accordance with their capacity, receive recompense therefor in accordance with their needs: ‘From each according to his capacity, to each according to his needs.’
It is obvious that people’s needs vary and will vary under socialism. Socialism never denied that people differed in their tastes, and in the quantity and quality of their needs. Read Marx’s criticism of Stirner’s inclination toward equalitarianism; read Marx’s criticism of the Gotha Programme of 1875; read the subsequent works of Marx, Engels and Lenin, and you will see how severely they attacked equalitarianism. The roots of equalitarianism lie in the mentality of the peasant, in the psychology of share and share alike, the psychology of primitive peasant ‘communism.’ Equalitarianism is entirely alien to Marxian socialism. It is those who know nothing about Marxism who have the primitive idea that the Russian Bolsheviks want to pool all wealth and then share it out equally. It is the idea of those who have never had anything in common with Marxism. It was the idea of communism entertained by such people as the primitive ‘communists’ of the time of Cromwell and the French Revolution. But Marxism and Russian Bolshevism have nothing in common with the equalitarian ‘communists.'”
Indeed, socialism doesn’t force people to be equal. It merely provides and equal chance for all to succeed regardless of what family or neighborhood they are born into.
It is certainly a logical conclusion. But at what point do we establish thought capable of being considered consciousness? Does the spider think to bind his web? Or is it his nature? If nature is the defining trait then to intentionally betray ones own nature would be an act of conscious being. But human nature is to rebel against nature- both the natural world and human nature. We cannot claim that mankind lacks predefined nature, but we can say that human nature is to a large extent malleable. Perhaps it is the unconscious or subconscious mind which programs a spider to act the way it does, in this case consciousness is an advanced form of the subconscious mind. But whose to say that there isn’t a species of even greater intelligence whose subconscious mind is made up of the alien equivalent of our conscious mind? To them are we mere primitive animals with limited will? To be is to exist. To exist is absurdity. Existence cannot to rationalized for its origin is the beginning of logic and reason itself.