Friday, April 25, 2008

What else do we want?

Some more from Socialism as a Practical Alternative - this time on the practical organisation of a moneyless economy, and how we see production occuring without some sort of central planning or dictatorial centre:
Socialism will remove every factor of value, cost and price involved in production and therefore there will be no use for money. As marketable commodities under capitalism, bread, shoes, housing and, indeed, labour power are in value relationships to each other which are expressed through prices. In socialism these value relationships will not exist. Capitalism is an exchange economy which begins with an exchange of workers’ labour power for wages and ends with the realisation of profit through the exchange of goods for money in the market. Socialism will relate productive activity directly to needs. Production for use will begin with co-operation between producers and end with the direct supply of goods to the members of the community for whose needs they have been produced. Only socialism can be a practical system for the production and distribution ofgoods directly for consumption.

[...]

In practical terms, needs would arise in local communities expressed as required quantities of machinery, equipment, building materials, and the whole range of foods and consumption goods. These grammes, kilos, tonnes, litres, cubic metres of required materials and goods would then be communicated throughout the distributive and productive network.

The monitoring and communications of needs, expressed as a demand on stocks or required production, would be clear and readily known. The supply of some needs would take place within the local community, as for example with food production for local consumption, local building, maintenance and the running of local services. Other needs would be communicated to regional production units, For example, local building might require glass for housing which was produced regionally. A local need for glass would then be communicated through the distributive network and would pass to the regional glassworks. In its turn, the glassworks would have its own suppliers of the materials used in glass production, so the required quantities of these would then be passed on. This would be the sequence of communications through which a local need for glass would be transmitted to every unit involved in glass production within a region. Other needs would be communicated throughout the structure of production up to a world scale. Local food production might require tractors. Regional manufacture would produce and assemble the component parts of tractors for distribution to local communities. These would be required in a definite number and therefore a definite number of required component parts would also be known. Again, the tractor-producing plant would communicate these requirements to its own suppliers. Eventually this would extend to world production units which would be mining and processing the raw materials, such as metals, required for tractor production.

This could be a self-adjusting system of production for use.

1 comment:

TOM said...

Interesting. Capitalism lays claim to be a 'self-directed' system when in fact it isn't. Capitalism is, in fact, a command and control-type system. A socialist system would be truly democratic, combining planning with 'direction from below'. In socialism, people would direct production for use, rather than producers (capitalists) directing production for profit. What would interest me is if you could produce some informed speculation on how socialism would deal with finite resources, and the limitations of geography and land availability. Capitalism has adjusted to these issues by constructing a profit system. Socialism, being a purely co-operative system, would rely on people readily identifying individual and collective needs and then working together to meet those needs, through democratic mechanisms. But would socialism eventually have to confront the same economic issue that is the foundation of capitalism - resource scarcity? Would socialism have to develop its own economics? You say that in socialism, 'cost' would disappear as a unit value. I am not yet convinced. There is always a cost in both production and consumption, even when (in fact, especially when), the process of production is inalienable from the consumer, as would be the defining characteristic of a socialist system.