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
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
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 a much water as
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