Draft Programme of the RCP, USA
Draft Programme Part 2
The New Socialist Economy
Part 1: Grasp Revolution, Promote Production
Economics is the foundation of society—all human societies must produce to meet their material needs. And to truly liberate people, you need a liberating economics.
Humanity has reached the point where it need no longer be ruled by the blind, elemental tyranny of economic forces. For the first time in human history, the producers on whose backs society has been built can begin to take hold of the economic system and society as a whole.
With power in their hands, the former “have-nots” can master and apply the principles that will enable them to run an economy that serves the people, promotes new values and attitudes, and contributes to the emancipation of humanity. This is what Maoist economics is all about.
The bourgeoisie has every reason to slander such an economics, to pronounce its verdict that socialist economics has failed and can only fail.
After all, these are “world class” exploiters and oppressors who control the major means of production of society, who dominate global institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund that have destroyed the lives of literally hundreds of millions of people over the last half century. Theirs is an economic and class system that measures progress by the “removal of barriers” to sweatshops…that sees the growing gap between haves and have-nots as an essential yardstick of “economic freedom” …that figures out ways to buy and sell “pollution rights.” The very notion of a liberating economics is completely opposed to everything they stand for.
But how would an economy run by and in the interests of the laboring people actually function? What are some of its key contradictions and what is its potential? How would such an economy deal with such questions as workplace management, international economic relations, and preserving the environment? How would work get organized so it is not alienating and mind-numbing?
The revolutionary proletariat has definite answers.
I. Liberating the Productive Forces and Establishing Socialist Ownership
The seizure of power by the proletariat ushers in a new stage in human history—socialism, the transition to classless, communist society. The extreme and life-draining abuse people suffer under capitalism will be gone, and the fetters that capitalism puts on human possibility can now be removed.
With the proletariat in power and socialist state ownership by the whole people established, the new socialist economy will:
• Put revolutionary politics in command.
The purpose of socialist production is to serve the revolutionary transformation of society and of the world as a whole. The proletariat in power must utilize the productive forces first and above all to advance the world revolution toward the aim of overcoming all exploitative and unequal relations in the world.
The means for achieving maximum results in economic construction that serves this purpose of revolutionary transformation is to mobilize the masses under the guidance of a communist ideological and political line.
• Meet the pressing needs of the people and solve problems by relying on the people.
• Wage struggle to create the conditions that promote the increasing collective participation of the masses in the running of the economy and their increasing collective mastery over economic processes.
• Develop new relations of production marked by a new social “motivation” and morality: people working in cooperation with one another and for the common good, and “working for the world revolution.”
• Expand social production in a planned way that serves the all-around material, social, and intellectual/cultural development of the people.
• Aim to create a common (mutually shared) abundance—a social wealth that enables people to satisfy their basic material requirements of life and that is consciously created to be more and more shared by the masses of people as a whole.
The Proletariat Takes Control of the Organization of Production
As soon as it has won victory in the revolutionary war, and even as it wins control of key areas, the proletariat will immediately take charge of the organization of production.
Under the overall leadership of the Party, the proletariat will take into its hands and safeguard vital production facilities and prevent their sabotage by class enemies. This is critical because the capitalists, even as they are defeated in battle, will attempt to wreck the remaining factories, railroads, storage depots, etc., to try to strangle the new revolutionary state in its cradle.
As the defeat of the imperialists and their faithful representatives is sealed and their last desperate efforts to hold onto power are crushed, the proletarian state will take control of the key levers and lifelines of the economy—all the major industrial facilities, all banking and finance, the key transport links, and the communications nerve centers.
The factories and other means of production of the monopolies and large-scale capital generally will be expropriated: seized for public use, without compensation to the former owners. With regard to small plants, the new state—depending on the circumstances, including the overall situation internationally—may proceed more slowly with expropriation and pay compensation to the former owners.
The act of seizing and socializing the major means of production is a historic step, a turning point marking the “beginning of the end” of all systems and relations of exploitation. State ownership converts the means of production from the private property of a small exploiting minority to property under the collective control of society.
Other radical, liberating changes will begin right away. The “right” to exploit people’s labor will be formally abolished. All consumer debt, mortgages, and farmer and small business debt will be canceled.
The new state will stabilize prices. As quickly as possible, a new currency—without the images of old slaveowners and war criminals—will be introduced. These and other measures will enable the proletarian state to gain firm control of finance, which is essential to developing the economy along socialist lines.
The proletarian state will move quickly to bring the various spheres of trade into its orbit as well. State ownership of the major industrial means of production will put exchanges of goods and materials between the state-owned factories directly under the control of the state. “Black markets” will be combated and price standards will be set and enforced. The proletarian state must continually increase its direct role in the exchange of products.
With state ownership established through these measures, the basis is laid to carry out economic planning—to consciously regulate and guide social production to serve the masses and revolution.
These sweeping and radical changes in the nature of the economy will be met with resistance of various kinds. The old ruling class and its agents will continue to make trouble. At the same time, the traditions and habits of “doing things the old way” will exert strong ideological influence over significant sections of people, creating problems and obstacles.
The Party must sort out actual sabotage and other counter-revolutionary acts from difficulties and differences among the people. This will require deep-going investigation that draws on the experience of the masses; and the Party must lead the masses to grasp the essence of and deal with these two different types of contradictions.
The way all work is organized will change right away. In the factories, the proletariat will supervise management and technical personnel; and such personnel will increasingly take part in productive labor alongside production workers. The basic principle of relying on and unleashing proletarians as the core force to lead in carrying out transformations in all sectors of the economy will be applied. For example, farmworkers will be relied on to achieve socialized state ownership of agriculture, while giving leadership to the productive activity of remaining farm owner-operators.
As for small shopkeepers, artisans, and other self-employed working people, they will be offered the hand of unity and their economic activity will be integrated into the overall functioning of the economy. Cooperative forms of ownership and collective labor will gradually replace old ways of organizing their production. As the socialist economy develops, they will become salaried workers employed by the socialist state.
Meeting Pressing Social Needs, Mobilizing People to Rebuild and to Create a New Economy
The masses will be unleashed to rebuild the economy and to solve all problems that come up. Mobilizing the masses will make seemingly impossible “miracles” happen under socialism.
The absurd contradiction represented by the ever visible sight of masses of unemployed people hanging out on the streets of their broken-down neighborhoods—this too will be ended with the seizure of power by the proletariat. Instead of being held apart by the law of profits, the formerly unemployed will be put together with the materials needed and be set to work on these neighborhoods. All of their creativity and knowledge will be valued and unleashed.
Many workers skilled in construction, for example—who, as it is now, largely work on glass-and-steel office towers, when they are allowed to work at all—will be immediately shifted into rehabbing and construction of housing for the masses.
Middle-strata people have specialized knowledge and skills that are hard to replace, and which the new economy will need in order to function. Former managers and technical personnel and small plant owners who are willing to aid socialist reconstruction will be utilized in an ongoing way to contribute their skills to production, including actually working right alongside the other workers.
The high degree of parasitism of U.S. imperialism is a particular problem facing the proletariat in carrying out the socialist transformation and development of the economy. There are many—indeed millions of people—whose functions will be unnecessary under socialism and contrary to its development: bureaucrats in corporate and government structures; advertising, marketing, banking, and insurance personnel; business, legal, and political consultants, etc.
With the exception of conscious counter-revolutionaries, the proletariat will, to the degree possible, utilize the skills and abilities of these people in technical, managerial, educational, and other needed functions (like media). But these middle-strata forces will not be allowed to lord it over the masses or to command production, scientific research, the media, etc. They will be working under policies set by the proletarian state and the masses will be mobilized to politically supervise them. Many among them will have to be retrained and will take on whole new tasks in the new society.
Raising the Bottom Up
The new proletarian state must take special measures for “raising the bottom up.” After the devastation and dislocation of civil war, first priority will be given to rebuilding and improving the ghettos and barrios and other areas where capitalism forced oppressed peoples to live.
The priorities in distribution of needed social goods and services will be guided by the principle of overcoming historic inequalities—for example, decisions about what sections of people and what areas of the country will be first to get new health care centers, state-run stores, public transit, and decent housing and schools. And, over the long term, the socialist state will give preference to the less developed and backward areas in coordination with and on the basis of the overall development of society.
The whole society, people from every strata, will be mobilized to overcome these inequalities left over from the old society. For instance, doctors will staff new clinics in areas which had no health care for decades. And some former professionals will get the new training they need to take literacy, education, and cultural programs to devastated urban or rural areas.
Meeting the Right to Housing
One of the most pressing questions the proletariat will face as it takes control of society will be providing housing for the masses that is fit for the shelter and comfort of human beings. Segregation will be smashed. The financial policies previously employed by the banks and insurance companies, which feed and profit off segregation, will have been ended, along with their control of financial resources.
Both the principle of mobilizing the masses and the principle of “raising the bottom up” will be used to solve the housing crisis.
One of the proletariat’s first steps will be to take over the remaining mansions of the capitalists, as well as their fancy hotels, convention centers, and even office buildings—much of which are unused—and move in masses who are literally homeless. Some of these structures will be permanently transformed into housing for the masses, while as rapidly as possible new housing is also built.
Apartment buildings and complexes owned by large capital and slumlords will be taken over quickly and without compensation by the revolutionary state. In these situations, as well as in the emergency housing described above, the masses will be mobilized to protect and manage them.
Small landlords who own only one or a few units will be allowed to continue collecting rents for a period of time. But small landlords will have no power to evict, and the rents will be set by the state. If there are problems, representatives of the Party, state, and the masses will work together with tenants and landlords to resolve them. As soon as possible, as more housing is built, and as the socialist economy as a whole develops, the state will gradually buy out these small landlords and convert these units into state-owned property.
People in the working class and its allies in the middle class will have the right to live in the homes they currently occupy, and all their debts and mortgages will be canceled. For those who own more than one home, the policy towards small landlords will apply to those properties that the owners do not occupy.
Health Care for the People
The proletariat, as it wins power, will also take over the large hospitals and similar institutions. It will apply the same basic policies there as in the factories and other workplaces.
The workers in these hospitals will be the base of proletarian power there, exercising control and supervision over their functioning and management. People in other strata—nurses and even many doctors—can make important contributions to the proletariat’s struggle for power and will be allies of the workers in controlling these institutions and actually making them serve the needs of the masses.
Universal health care will be established. Health services will be provided for free or at very low cost, and the goal will be to make all health care free. Abortion will be available on demand and without apology, regardless of the length of pregnancy. The criminal situation where health care is dominated by the dictates of capital and profit and is beyond the reach of many people will be over.
Mass mobilizations and mass education will be organized to deal with major health problems like infant mortality or the addictions perpetrated by imperialism.
The focus of health care will be on preventive and primary health care needs, although resources will also be allocated for other aspects of medical care and research, etc. Socialist society will approach health care in an all-around way: examining and solving “outside” issues like neighborhood pollution/contamination, nutrition, and health issues connected with work.
Old ideas of medical experts acting like “gods” with unquestioned authority will be overthrown and new relationships between experts, on the one hand, and non-experts and patients, on the other, will be forged.
As socialist ownership advances and the gains in the economy are consolidated, in addition to large-scale health facilities, a decentralized system of clinics and small hospitals will be built—with priority given to those places with no health care access, in workplaces as well as neighborhoods.
II. Reconfiguring a Formerly Imperialist Economy
Imperialism is based on global relations of exploitation and great-power domination. These relations lead to widening inequality, growing hunger and poverty, distortion of the national economies of the oppressed nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and vast environmental degradation. The U.S. accounts for 5 percent of the world’s population but consumes 25 percent of the world’s mineral, metal, and other material resources, and 30 percent of the world’s energy resources.
A genuine socialist economy cannot be built in a country like the U.S. without shattering its former international economic relations. Nor can it be built without bending every effort to promote and support the struggle to remake the world as a whole through revolution.
The proletariat in power will face a great challenge. It must create a new economy that does not rest on exploitation. It must ensure that this economy does not become dependent on foreign trade and, as a result, become entangled in the economic and financial arrangements of what remains of the imperialist world economy. And just as importantly, it must ensure that the economy it builds does not reproduce relations of international domination.
What are some of the key principles that will guide this process?
First, the socialist state will exercise firm control over all channels of foreign trade. Upon coming to power, the proletariat will liquidate all international holdings and investments. The socialist economy will not export capital. It will not engage in foreign investment: it will not build factories or make loans for profit. The new state will immediately cut links and ties with imperialist economic institutions like the World Bank and World Trade Organization (WTO) and will expose their crimes and wage struggle against such institutions.
Second, in developing the economy, the socialist society will rely principally on its own material resources and capabilities—first and foremost, the collective understanding and conscious activism of the masses.
The structure of production and the resource base of the economy will no longer depend on labor and materials from other countries, much less exploitation, domination, and gunboat extortion. To take two examples: parts and components will no longer be contracted out to manufacturing firms in the maquiladora and export-processing zones of Mexico and East Asia; and the economy will no longer rely on huge inflows of oil from abroad.
Will this give full throttle to extravagant use of domestic resources in order to maintain the patterns of production and consumption that prevailed in the old economy?
No, it means that, from the very beginning, the shift towards self-reliance will require resource conservation and the radical overhauling of production practices. Steps will be taken immediately to move away from a wasteful and environmentally destructive oil-based economy.
Self-reliance also requires the restructuring of the old industrial economy and the step-by-step creation of a different kind of industrial economy: one that will meet production and consumption needs more efficiently and one that will produce a different mix of output (not more automobiles, but safe and efficient mass transit).
These changes will affect consumption standards of the new society. People’s most basic needs will be met, and the new economy will strive to produce a rational variety of consumer goods. But the “convenience” of having Indonesian workers cater to athletic clothing needs, or peasants in other parts of the world cater to upscale coffee sensibilities, will be no more. The new economy will rupture with relations that produce privileges on the one side and immiseration on the other.
This orientation must become a conscious one throughout society. It will require mass education. At the same time, people’s social needs will change with the transformation of social life. There will not be the obsession with consumption, the need to define oneself on the basis of what and how much one consumes.
International Economic Relations
Proletarian internationalism comes first in all economic relations.
With the other socialist states that exist or come into being, trade will be carried out under the principles of equality and proletarian internationalism, to aid the construction of socialism in these countries and the world revolution.
Trade policies will also have to be developed toward imperialist and other reactionary states. But the new state will not put economic agreements and exchanges with other countries above its responsibility to support revolutionary movements in these countries. In some cases, in order to support the class struggle in these countries and internationally, the socialist state will refuse to carry out trade with them, or refuse to trade in some items.
The new socialist economy will end all imperialist relations with other countries, especially those previously dominated and oppressed by U.S. imperialism. The debts owed by Third World countries to the banking institutions and government agencies of the old economy will be canceled. All unequal trade treaties will be repudiated.
At the same time, the new state will meet its obligations. For instance, it will provide technical and financial assistance for helping to clean up and reverse environmental damage. It will also continue to deliver spare parts, equipment, and so forth to countries which the U.S. imperialists had made dependent on them but which may still require external supplies.
This will have to be done in accordance with the overall international situation and the conditions that the socialist state itself faces at a given time—including whether the new state is forced to defend itself against actual military attack from remaining imperialist and reactionary states and how far it has progressed in meeting the most basic and urgent needs of the masses in the country. Furthermore, in dealing with matters of supplies and assistance to countries that U.S. imperialism formerly dominated, the socialist state must also factor in the nature of these countries, the class struggle within them, and their role internationally.
As for so-called “intellectual property rights.” The class-conscious proletariat stands opposed to them and the new socialist state will tear up all such property rights carried over from the old society.
The fruits of imperialism’s lopsided research and development apparatus, which drains scientific talent from around the world, especially the poor nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, will be made available to the people of the world. Scientific knowledge will be shared, and no longer will medicines and so forth be “protected” by patent and royalty, and priced to be out of reach to those who so desperately need them.
Class Struggle in Command
The socialist state will enter into trade relations with other countries. But such trade, both on the export and import side, must be secondary to self-reliant growth. Overdependence on trade will undermine the foundations of a balanced and integrated economy. It will also unleash and strengthen old and new bourgeois class forces in socialist society. Such forces will push for policies to maximize commercial gain in international economic relations. They will seek class allies internationally. And they will “make the case” to sections of people that there are great material “benefits” to be had from international engagement.
All this opens the door to emergent neocolonial relations (and the restoration of capitalism) and will be a focus of class struggle under socialism.
The socialist state stands for trade relations based on mutual benefit and equality. But non-socialist countries, especially the remaining imperialists, will not adhere to this policy simply because the socialist state proclaims it. They will seek to carry out trade on unequal terms and as a means for gaining leverage.
The socialist state will have to wage struggle to force the imperialist and reactionary states to conduct trade on different terms. At the same time, the new state may also find itself in a situation of having to break imperialist embargoes and blockades that cause damage to certain sectors of the socialist economy. Only to the degree that the socialist state is promoting and supporting revolutionary struggle throughout the world will it be able to achieve these ends.
There will be much destruction and dislocation involved in the revolutionary war to overthrow U.S. imperialism. Still, the proletariat will “inherit” vast and highly developed technology and productive forces that are, to a significant degree, the fruit of exploitation and plunder carried out over decades and centuries of imperialist domination and colonial conquest throughout the world.
The proletariat in power must utilize these productive forces first and above all to advance the world revolution toward the aim of overcoming all exploitative and unequal relations in the world, including the “great divide” between the imperialist and colonial (or neocolonial) countries.
III. Forging New Socialist Relations of Production
Under socialism, labor power will no longer be a commodity bought and sold. The hideous theft of life that is “work” under capitalism will be gone, along with the denial of work to whole sections of people.
The producers will no longer be enslaved to, and working to expand, economic and social forces alien to and dominating them. The conscious activism of the masses will be the driving force in a dynamic economy in the service of liberating humanity. The proletariat will lead in mastering technology rather than being mastered by it. No one will lose a job because of technological improvements. Technology will ease the burden of toil.
A key task of socialist society will be to break down the division between mental and manual labor, between those who work with their minds and those who work with their backs.
Work will be reorganized to promote de-specialization: no longer will someone have to spend a lifetime simply performing the same task. Workers will have one post at any given time but will develop many different skills, rotating to different jobs and learning to master all phases of the production process—as well as technical and managerial work, research, planning, etc.
All managers will take part in productive labor, and “management” will not be the sacred ground of a handful of people. Managers will continue to be necessary. But, fundamentally, managing social production will be the collective responsibility of the masses. And, increasingly, people as a whole will rotate between management and productive labor.
For the economy to achieve planned and balanced growth, workplaces will be given the responsibility to produce particular items or services. But this will not be made an absolute. Within the framework of the overall plan, different units of production must also develop the capacity to produce subsidiary products along with their main products, and this must be integrated into the overall functioning and development of the economy.
Delegations of workers from different factories and workplaces will regularly be organized. They will have discussions with each other, exchange experience about production, discuss the quality of and problems with the products and services exchanged between them and throughout society, and share social and political experience. As the proletariat seizes power in other parts of the world, these exchanges will be organized between workers of different socialist countries.
In these as well as other ways, the workers in various spheres of the economy will become more conscious of the process of production and exchange in socialist society as a whole. And the masses of workers will be able to strengthen their conscious mastery over production and all of society.
The proletariat in power will vigorously promote the outlook of people working cooperatively and for the common good and using initiative and creativity to advance the public interest.
Workers will no longer be locked in a competition for starvation wages, trying to beat each other out for jobs or housing. The cutthroat “me-first, I gotta take care of myself,” “look after my own” outlook of capitalist competition will be attacked and on the defensive. “Serve the people” will be the measuring stick by which people in their millions will judge their actions. This outlook will be reinforced by the real way the relations of production are changing: the socialist economy will be serving the people, not a handful of exploiters!
Workplaces as Schools of Class Struggle
The factories, fields, and other places where people work will be “schools of class struggle.” They will be political and cultural centers in which the battle to transform society and the world will have a sharp, crucial focus.
No longer will workplaces be merely “production” units. Political mobilization is the lifeblood of economic work under socialism. Critical questions—from international affairs to educational policy to the struggle for the emancipation of women—will be debated. Through political and ideological activities and cultural events in the work centers and in society as a whole, issues will get brought to the light of day and struggled out openly. In these ways, the masses will be learning to distinguish between the socialist road and the capitalist road.
Wage Inequality and Restricting Bourgeois Right
The socialist wage principle is “from each according to their ability, to each according to their work.” This is a great leap over capitalism.
Exploitation of labor will be eliminated. The “reward system” of capitalism—those who toil the least gain the most—will be shattered. But even the principle of pay according to work contains inequalities. Different jobs require different levels of skill. And even when different workers receive the same pay there is inequality, since people have different needs, different size families, and so forth. The division of labor, too, most especially between mental and manual labor, contains elements of privilege.
The principle of payment according to work performed is an example of what is called “bourgeois right.” Bourgeois right refers to economic and social relations which uphold formal equality but which actually contain elements of inequality and seeds of capitalist commodity and social relations. These relations are concentrated in laws and policies in the socialist society. They are described as “bourgeois right” because they reflect the continuing influence of the bourgeois organization of society. This will be a sharp and complex focus of class struggle in socialist society.
Wages and salaries cannot be immediately equalized under socialism. Why?
To begin with, sections of people—for instance, various professionals whose understanding and skills are needed by society—would, if wages were equalized immediately, turn against the revolution. Doctors, architects, physicists, planners, etc., have gone through training and schooling that takes time, work, and struggle. To tell these people right off that all that is irrelevant and now things will be totally and absolutely equalized—that will not be accepted by large numbers of them. Many would resist these measures, refuse to carry out assignments, and cause trouble.
This has to be seriously taken into account by the proletariat in power. It is not the case that the masses of people will immediately be able to do all these things—again, it takes training and education.
Further, it is actually the case that the requirements of these positions and functions—that is, what is involved in acquiring the necessary training and education—represents an additional amount of labor beyond what is required to be able to do more unskilled work. For example, to become a doctor requires years of education and training, and this will still be the case in socialist society, even with its radical transformation of education.
In socialist society the proletariat, through its state, is actually responsible for the planning, allocation, and use of different kinds of labor. If it simply ignores the actual amount of labor that has to be expended for different things, including the development of certain skills, etc., this will lead to irrational planning and the serious disruption of the socialist economy.
So wrong policies that aim to eliminate inequalities all at once would mean that needed functions—medical, educational, scientific—will not get performed and that the socialist economy and society will actually be harmed. The revolution will lose support—not only among the more skilled strata, but among the masses more broadly. And the bourgeoisie will have more favorable ground to rally sections of professionals, and even sections of the basic masses, to its side!
Even within the working class, there are the advanced, intermediate, and backward. Not everyone will immediately have communist values. Here too it will still be necessary to recognize and reward differences in skill and ability—more highly skilled workers will receive higher pay.
But bourgeois right must be restricted. In the case of wages and salaries, that means several things.
First, efforts must be made to limit wage and salary gaps. The wide, obscene, and socially irrational differences of the sort that U.S. capitalism basks in will be eliminated (doctors will receive higher incomes, but will not be driving expensive sports cars). The more long-term and overall policy of the socialist state will be to narrow wage and salary differences in a step-by-step way. Specific practices that accentuate differences, like systems of bonuses, etc., in workplaces, must also be restricted.
Second, more of life’s needs must be met outside the “cash nexus,” that is, by means other than exchange through money. Things like health care, child care, cultural activities, and some consumer goods will increasingly be provided at low or no expense. They will be provided through more collective means: in workplaces, neighborhoods, farms, etc. In this way, certain services and products will begin to lose much of their character as commodities. People’s incomes—their payment for work performed—will have less and less to do with the satisfaction of their requirements of life.
Third, there must be vigorous struggle throughout society against the ideology of “bourgeois right.” The outlook of “I did this, and therefore I deserve that,” ideas of fame and gain, of self-enrichment, and so forth must be attacked and the outlook of “serve the people” promoted. Those with more advanced understanding and experience from among different sections of the people will be brought forward to set examples for others—for instance, people who take on special duties without pay, or youth who go into areas to assist the revolution with no promise of material reward.
Bourgeois forces, old and new, will be fighting to expand “bourgeois right.” They will advocate policies to widen salary differences (in the name of “motivating” people to produce more); to expand the sphere of private consumption (in the name of “raising living standards”); and on the ideological front they will pronounce the verdict that the outlook of self-gain has “positive qualities.”
Such is the ground of class struggle over “bourgeois right.”
IV. Toward a Communist Future Without Commodities or Money
Socialism is a mode of production that is moving in the direction of communism. But the achievement of communism will require huge leaps: in the material development of society and in the social outlook, social values, and “social psychology” of people. And because communism can only take form as a global community of freely associating human beings, this must be achieved on a world level.
The guiding principle of the future communist society will be “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.”
In communist society, people will no longer be required to work in order to meet their immediate needs and to assure their individual existence. That will be assured by society. People will still work, but no longer under compulsion of threat to their survival, or through inducements to self-gain and status. People will be motivated to work because they want to contribute to society all they can…according to their abilities.
In communist society, people will receive back from society according to their needs. But these will not be the crass “needs” promoted by bourgeois society (“who has the most toys at the end of the day wins”). Nor will needs be “fulfilled” by acquiring private wealth that becomes a means to exploit others.
In communist society, people’s needs will be bound up with their all-around development as freely associating members of a social community, and with what enables that community to continually and consciously advance.
In such a society, there will be no need for money—it will be a relic of the past. Why? Because the products of human labor will no longer take the form of commodities—things produced for exchange, bought and sold, and transferred between different owners (or agents of production) as property.
The law of value, according to which the value of things produced is equivalent to the socially necessary labor time required to produce them, regulates commodity exchange. In communist society, this law will no longer exist.
Under communism, all products will come into being as the common material wealth of all of society. All products will be distributed according to rules established on a social level. All this will be “second nature” to people.
Communist society will still have to take account of the amount of social labor required to maintain society and to allow for its all-around development. But economic calculation—the calculation of the material-technical requirements of society, the measurement and allocation of social labor, and so on—will no longer involve accounting in value and monetary terms. The production and exchange of goods and services will be articulated without commodity relations, that is, without buyer, seller, contract relations, etc.
Communism requires that the productive forces have developed to a degree that a common material abundance is possible. But this can only happen on the basis of, and it must proceed together with, far-reaching transformations in the relations of production: leading in the direction of society as a whole taking possession of the productive forces; leading to more cooperative and interlinked ways in which people work; and leading to the more equitable distribution of social wealth.
There must be radical transformations in social relations: in how people relate to each other throughout society. And the oppressive division of labor—especially that between mental and manual labor—will have to be overcome.
Socialist and Communist Society
Socialism is a transitional society carrying with it the “birthmarks” of—inequalities left over from—capitalist society. For some time, products will still retain certain commodity aspects. The socialist economy will also need to make use of the law of value.
These phenomena are a big part of the reason there is always the danger under socialism that capitalism will be restored. And they exist within the framework of socialist state ownership. So a decisive question under socialism is the actual content of state ownership: are the lines and policies in command unleashing the masses and advancing society towards the abolition of classes, or are the lines in command dragging society back towards capitalism? What is involved is a complex process of class struggle and social transformation that reflects the material reality of socialism as a transitional society. (See appendix “The Party Under Socialism, and the Transition to Communism.”)
Under socialism, it will still be necessary to undertake cost-accounting, as expressed in value/money terms, in order to estimate production costs and to measure, compare, and promote efficiency. Exchanges between state enterprises will involve some forms of contracts. A substantial portion of consumer goods will still, for some time, be supplied through consumer markets; and although these markets will be regulated by the state, consumption will still involve individuals purchasing goods.
The socialist economy must foster collective control and understanding by the producers. But to get beyond and do away with the commodity and money form will require a whole new level of integration of economic activity—fewer “walls” between enterprises and sectors, and qualitatively greater interaction between people in different spheres of the economy. It will require that people have a more direct and all-sided grasp of economic processes, of the interrelationships and requirements of social production. When society reaches this material and ideological level, new forms of economic-social calculation and exchange will emerge that do not contain the seeds of commodity relations and class division.
For all the reasons described, the socialist economy cannot simply declare “the end of money.” Moreover, the socialist economy is not an isolated entity. It will be “surrounded” by money.
Capitalist countries and some form of the capitalist world market are likely to exist for a considerable time. As discussed, the socialist economy will engage in a limited amount of foreign trade, and money will be required to settle international trade accounts. In addition, the very existence of a world market will exert pressures on the socialist economy to develop in certain ways and will call forth class forces who seek to adapt to the goals and means of the bourgeois world economy.
Also, “black markets” will invariably arise within socialist society, especially in the early phases of socialist development. And with this will come hoarding of money and “underground” money dealings.
So even if money were formally abolished, these kinds of objective factors would “drive money back into” the economy.
This is not to say that money and the law of value are simply accepted, lived with, or given free rein in the socialist economy. The goal is to do away with them. Socialist society must strenuously restrict their scope of operation and influence. And the proletariat must wage struggle against the ideas and attitudes which they generate and reinforce.
The law of value will play a role in the socialist economy, but it will not be in command. This means that production decisions are not made according to what yields profits. Efficiency is not measured narrowly in terms of immediate returns or labor productivity in the enterprise. And “success” in economic work involves broad social and political criteria.
Socialist production is consciously planned production based on meeting the needs of the masses, promoting the all-around development of the economy and society, and advancing the world revolution. This system of production must ultimately be transformed into a communist system of production without commodities and money.
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