Things are not produced today to meet people's needs. They are produced to make a profit. And that's the cause of the problems we face.
Under the profit system profits always come first. Before providing basic services like health care and housing, before improving conditions at work, and before protecting the environment.
Look at the results. The health service is crumbling. Housing is unaffordable. The transport system is in chaos. Pollution is rife and the environment under attack. The poor have got poorer. Begging and homelessness have spread. Crime is rising. Racism is reviving.
Life is becoming more and more commercialised and empty. People are becoming isolated from each other, with drug abuse and mental illness on the increase. The standard of living may have gone up a bit for some, but the standard of life is going down.
Business culture reigns supreme, with "market forces", "competition" and "profit" as the buzzwords. The Labour Party has even incorporated these values into its statement of aims. It now openly praises "the enterprise of the market" and "the rigour of competition".
Under the profit system production is in the hands of profit-seeking business enterprises ― whether state or privately owned ― all competing to maximise the rate of return on the money invested in them. Decisions as to what to produce and how much, and how and where to produce it, are not made in response to people's needs but in response to market forces.
The health and welfare of the workforce and the effects on the environment take second place. This is why at work we suffer speed-up, pain, stress, boredom, overwork and accidents. This is why we have to work long hours, shiftwork and nightwork.
This is why the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe are all polluted. This is why the Earth's non-renewable mineral and energy resources are plundered. This is why natural balances are upset and the environment destroyed.
The profit system can't help doing this. It's the only way it can work. Which is why it must go.
What's the alternative?
One thing is certain. The Tories, LibDems and Labour have nothing to offer. They all support the profit system and are only squabbling over which of them should have a go at running it.
If we are going to improve things we are going to have to act for ourselves, without professional politicians or leaders of any kind. We are going to have to organise ourselves democratically to bring about a society geared to serving human needs not profits.
Production to satisfy people's needs. That's the alternative. But this is only going to be possible if we control production and the only basis on which this can be done is common ownership and democratic control. In a word, socialism.
But real socialism, not the elite-run dictatorships that used to exist in Russia and east Europe ― that was state capitalism, not socialism ― nor the various schemes for state control put forward by the old Labour Party. We are talking about a world community without frontiers. Only on this basis can world poverty, hunger and the destruction of the environment be ended.
The socialist alternative to the profit system is:
• common ownership: no individuals or groups of individuals have property rights over the natural and industrial resources needed for production.
• democratic control: everybody has an equal say in the way things are run including work, not just the limited political democracy we have today.
• production for use: goods and services produced directly to meet people's needs, not for sale on a market or for profit.
• free access: all of us have access to what we require to satisfy our needs, not rationed as today by the size of our pay cheque or state hand-out.
The candidates standing for the Socialist Party (GB) are: