Capitalism must be removed and replaced with the post-capitalist majority revolutionary alternative. It can’t be reformed in any major way, Swedish and Labour Party models do not impinge in any way upon capitalism’ rapaciousness. Its is like trying to make a vegetarian out of a tiger.
Lenin’s model was a Jacobin one to win power. Lenin wasn’t trying to make socialism, but to make state capitalism, not because socialism was impossible or an impossible dream, but because of the fact, as real Marxists told him at the time, socialism is a post-capitalist society and not a post-feudal one, which Russia was becoming.
Capitalist development creates the tools to eradicate poverty and an educated workforce to create and run ever more of it (the capitalist class are a redundant class now inasmuch as they are not needed for wealth production), (which is why Marx supported capitalist revolutions to overthrow feudalism), but then it has to increase or curtail production to satisfy an artificial ‘market’ demand in the interest of the minority classes profit accumulation.
The minority class has become a fetter upon the realisation of the productive potential of the technological capabilities of the potential productive capacitive process capitalism has bequeathed to the 95% wealth producers.
It can not distribute resources to satisfy human needs without destroying itself in the process and it also doesn’t lift us out of the relative poverty, but retains it as a necessity, to ensure a constant supply of waged slaves. as Voltaire wittingly put it, “The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor.”
The comparison is not with early capitalism nor today’s version, but between the social and economic position of the immense majority relative to the wealth they collectively produce. The needs of industry demands an educated , fed workforce in many instances, as workers also run capitalism from top to bottom, the diseases of poverty can jump class barriers, so self preservation of the system requires different scenarios to early developmental models but can revert to smokestack circumstances and shanty towns also, as the developing world shows us.
Poverty in those twin senses relative and absolute, is entrenched forever if capitalism is retained, as is war (business by other means), trade wars, war over resources and geopolitical interests.
Don’t forget also the horror of two world wars for economic dominance and the war science upon Nagasaki and Hiroshima by the kind hearted capitalist class as they currently pick sides for another go.
To say that ‘true socialism is impossible’ is akin to a person in feudal times expounding against the coming impossible capitalist revolutions. Nothing will stop social change or an idea which time has come.
The post-capitalist revolution has of necessity to be a majority one. The first time ever for majority revolution and not some vanguardist, Leninist-style minority putsch as all previous revolutions have been minority led, ‘meet the new boss’ ones.
Using the Achilles heel of bourgeois democracy a politically aware immense majority, conscious of their class interest in abolishing the last great slavery that of wage slavery, can transform the world into a commonly owned, production for use , free access socialist society without elites and change the operating tenet from a minority “Accumulate, accumulate” into a majority one of, “From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs”.
It will not happen by gradually reforming capitalism,nor by premature nationalist adventures or mislabelling state capitalist monstrosities, but the primary task of socialists these days is education.
If you open any textbook on economics you will find the definition at the beginning as to what economics is will include the concept of ‘scarcity’. On the one side, it is taught, there are scarce resources and, on the other side, unlimited wants, and that economics is the study of the choices people make (as individuals and societies) to deal with this.
However, the concept of ‘scarcity’ used in these definitions is an abnormal and circular one and human wants are not unlimited. The relationship between scarce resources and unlimited wants is not what economics actually studies. The definition above is an ideological construct to justify one particular way of organising the production and distribution of goods and services – the capitalist system of production for profit, involving markets, money, prices, profits, wages, interest, banks, etc. That’s what economics really studies.
The technological means of the modern age make it possible for everyone in the world to live a comfortable, safe, interesting and happy personal and social life, with all our needs provided, and totally free from hardship, misery and the constant frustration, worry and embarrassment of not being able to afford what we require.
Modern production techniques are entirely capable of providing an abundance of nutritional food for many times the present world population. There is no need for anyone anywhere to starve, to lack nourishment or even to make do with cheap substitutes.
There is enough raw materials, knowledge and manpower in the world to ensure comfortable hygienic accommodation for everyone everywhere. It is possible for everyone to live in houses which are safe, weather-resistant, fitted with up-to-date appliances and decorated and furnished according to individual taste. There is no need for anyone anywhere to be homeless or to live in poor, dangerous and ill-equipped accommodation.
Real socialism is a post-capitalist society where waged slavery will have been abolished. As capitalism is run from top to bottom by the working class, 95%, so it can be replaced by a commonly owned, production for use, free-access,society with no elite access to its products. The capitalist class, liberals or neo-cons, are an economic parasite class. All government, however well meaning politicians are, whether Leftist, Rightist, Centrist,or “Can’t make up their minds”, to win power, are governments over us in the interests of the dominant economic capitalist parasite class. Capitalism cannot be reformed into some kind of egalitarian system. It cannot be managed in some state-capitalist, soviet-style system, nor can it end the cycles of boom and bust with waged slavery driving the production of wealth. The cause of the Labour Party is not the cause of socialism and never was. It’s original reason for existing was to get reforms for working people. Damn all to do with socialism. “The Labour party has never been a socialist party, although there have always been socialists in it – a bit like Christians in the Church of England.” (Tony Benn)
But it is a mistake and arises from an alternative and inadequate definition of class in terms of social status rather than relationship to the means of production.
But it is clear that, as far a relationship to the means of production is concerned, office workers (including managers) are in precisely the same position as shop floor workers: they are excluded from ownership and control of the means of production and are forced to obtain a living, by selling their mental and physical energies to an employer. This in fact is our definition of working class: all those who are forced to sell their mental and physical energies in order to live. It would have been convenient to use some phrase such as “wage-earning class” in order to make our point of view clear at first sight, but unfortunately not only does a section of the working class call itself the “middle class” but even denies that it is paid wages as workers are and insists on calling them a salary instead. In fact a salary is equally a price for the sale of a person’s mental and physical energies, but this snobbery means that in order to make ourselves absolutely clear who we mean by working class we have to say “those forced to work for a wage or salary” or, less adequately but more simply, “wage and salary earners”.
The society of today is a capitalist society and the classes that face one another are the capitalist class and the working class. The form of bondage is different from the forms that prevailed formerly, but it is still bondage.
The wealth producers of today are not bound to a lord or master as were the serfs and slaves. They may refuse their services to this or that capitalist. But they cannot escape from the capitalist class. They must deliver their abilities to some member or members of that class. In no other way do they have access to the things needed to preserve life.