Saturday, February 13, 2010

Local elections too

Even if the general election isn't on Thursday 6 May, there will be elections that day. In London all the borough councils will be elected, including Lambeth. The Socialist Party will be contesting two wards here: Ferndale ward and Larkhill ward. We have already leafleted the wards twice and will be doing so again in the near future.

Here is an article from one of our leaflets:

The Brixton Pound – What for?

In September a group of enthusiasts, supported by the Council, launched the Brixton Pound. These are vouchers that can be used, instead of pound coins and £5 and £10 notes, to buy from shops in Brixton – provided, that is, that the shop is prepared to accept them.

But what's the point (apart from helping local shopkeepers)? What difference does it make what coloured pieces of paper we have to use to get the things we need to live? The real problem is that in present-day, capitalist society we have to use money at all to obtain these, and that the amount of money we have will always be rationed by what we get as wages or as benefits. That restricts and distorts our lives.

But it doesn't have to be like this. If the waste and artificial shortages of capitalism were eliminated we could easily produce enough to go over to getting what we need on the basis of the principle from each according to our abilities to each according to our needs. In other words, free access to what we need without having to hand over coloured pieces of paper or to use cards or vouchers of any kind.

Maybe you think that this wouldn't work because (other) people would take too much. Soledad Brother George Jackson answered that one in one of his prison letters:

"Consider the people's store, after full automation, the implementation of the theory of economic advantage. You dig, no waste makers, no harnesses on production. There is no intermediary, no money. The store, it stocks everything that the body or home could possibly use. Why won't the people hoard, how is an operation like that possible, how could the storing place keep its stores if its stock (merchandise) is free?
Men hoard against want, need, don't they? Aren’t they taught that tomorrow holds terror, pile up a surplus against this terror, be greedy and possessive if you want to succeed in this insecure world? Nuts hidden away for tomorrow's winter.
Change the environment, educate the man, he'll change. The people's store will work as long as people know that it will be there, and have in abundance the things they need and want (really want); when they are positive that the common effort has and will always produce an abundance, they won’t bother to take home more than they need.
Water is free, do people drink more than they need?"

The person whose face appears on the Brixton ten-pound note – CLR James – also saw free access and "from each according to ability, to each according to need" as the ultimate goal. We see it as the immediate goal if we are ever going to get off the treadmill of having to work for money to buy the things we need to be able to go on working for money.


Anonymous said...

The person whose face appears on the Brixton ten-pound note – CLR James – also saw free access and "from each according to ability, to each according to need" as the ultimate goal.

Hmmm... are you sure he wasn't just another state capitalist, left-reformist charged with misleading the working class?


Londonsocialist said...

As an orthodix Trotskyist he was at one time. Later he evolved a bit, coming to recognise Russia as state capitalist and soften his earlier support for a vanguard party. But even when he was an orthodox Trotskyist this is what he wrote in his 1937 book World Revolution:

But it should be noted that Marx and Engels and Lenin did use the words Socialism and Communism interchangeably, at other times making a distinction between Communism as the highest stage of Socialism. For an able study on the use of the words at different times by Marx, Engels and Lenin see The Socialist Standard, August, 1936.

Like we said, he did envisage the disappearance of money if only in "the highest stage of socialism". That's why it's ironic that his head should be appearing on a pound note, even if just a local one.