Socialist Speaker addresses Students of The College of St. Mark and St. John, Chelsea (1951)
From the March 1951 issue of the Socialist Standard
Q. How can society operate without money?
A. Money does not distribute goods. Transport does. Money impedes the distribution of goods by ensuring that they are supplied only to those with money. Socialism will distribute wealth freely.
Q. When socialists say “ people will work,” is it correct to infer some force will operate to make them work?
A. No. The incentive to work under Socialism will be individual self-expression and social responsibility.
Q. Why do Socialists envisage a Godless state?
A. Socialism is a proposal based on a scientific study of Society. It envisages a social system established by the conscious application of a human idea based on facts and therefore excludes the supernatural.
Q. If religion and social pressures are removed what will be the motive for existence?
A. We do not know of any motive for existence except existence itself. We leave such futilities to religion.
Q. When in the revolution, Russia abolished the use of money, chaos resulted; how does the Socialist explain that?
A. Chaos did NOT result from the Revolution, but the Revolution from Chaos. Russia (and Germany) did NOT abolish the use of money. With military defeat and economic collapse the state monetary system went too, its place being taken by local currencies and bartering expedients.
Q. From what the Socialist says, we must return to barter but surely this would lead to haggling and argument and so to wars?
A. From what the socialist says, we must NOT return to barter but go forward to Socialism. Barter is simply exchange without money. It pre-supposes private property which Socialism will abolish.
Q. On what grounds do Socialists base their faith in human nature?
A. Socialists have no faith. It is the nature of human beings to act rationally in their own interests; when they realise that their interest is a social one they will establish Socialism. The stimulus is growing dissatisfaction with the present material environment, capitalism.
Q. Socialists use the phrase “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need"; how will you decide who needs what, and surely inequalities will acrue, since needs vary so?
A. The only person who can decide personal needs is the individual involved. Personal need, however, is almost completely conditioned by social milieu. Socialism is not a proposal for equal individual consumption, but common or equal ownership of means of production. Equal amounts of the same things for everybody is characteristic of the working class under capitalism.
Q. What will be the purpose of society when competition for trade, etc., is removed, and also if Socialists are not concerned with good and evil and moral explanations of society; why do they say Socialist society will be the most ethical man has achieved?
A. Socialism will remove the basis of anti-social conduct by making it impossible to get rich. The absurd double standards of religious ethics which strive to apply ideal codes to a corrupt capitalist system will evaporate.
Q. Reading history shows that mankind has built great civilisations, that all have crumbled to dust; what prevents one thinking, then, that capitalism, too, may collapse and with it the production processes without which Socialism cannot materialise?
A. All preceding civilisations have contributed to the social evolution of mankind. Capitalism will not collapse, because until a majority are Socialists they will support it. They will not be able to abolish it without a definite idea of what is to replace it—Socialism.