Socialism

Marxist Dictionary

Transitional phase between the seizure of power by the proletariat and the total decommodification of production. In this phase, the economy, managed collectively by the workers themselves, is oriented towards decommodification, direct production according to needs and the increase of factor productivity, especially of labor. It measures its success by the reduction in working hours, the increase in consumption by the working class and the radical transformation of the culture characteristic of a society that has resumed development.

Socialism as the liberation of productive forces constrained under decadent capitalism

Capitalism has generated an incredible amount of productive forces that can hardly be contained within it anymore. Through the world market it has created the conditions for a global economic metabolism; through the development of communications, cybernetics and robotics it has created an outline -deformed like everything else capitalism creates- of the direct application of science to production, of social knowledge converted directly into a social worker (for example when an entire productive process is directed and controlled by an Artificial Intelligence that “learns” from the iterations of the same process).

They are organs of the human brain created by the human hand; objective force of knowledge. The development of capital reveals the extent to which general social knowledge has become an immediate productive force, and therefore the extent to which the conditions of the process of social life itself have come under the control of the general intellect and reshaped accordingly. To what extent the social productive forces are produced not only in the form of knowledge, but as immediate organs of social practice, of the real life process.

Karl Marx. Fundamental elements for the critique of political economy (Grundrisse), 1857-1858

In doing so, it opens up the material possibility of a society that leaves behind “forced labor out of necessity,” puts an end to wage slavery and commodification. But that material possibility becomes a social and “economic” impossibility in a system whose goal is the production of surplus value through commodity production.

Capitalism on the one hand awakens to life all the powers of Science and Nature, as well as of social cooperation and exchange, to make the creation of wealth (relatively) independent of the working time spent on it. On the other hand, it proposes to measure these gigantic social forces thus created with working time and to reduce them to the limits required for the value already created to be preserved as a value. The productive forces and social relations -diverse aspects of the development of the social individual- appear to capital only as means, and are for it only means to produce being founded on its miserable base. But in fact, they constitute the material conditions to blow up that base. As Charles Wentworth Dilke says “a nation is truly rich when instead of 12 hours of work, 6 are performed”. Wealth is not the disposition of surplus time, “but time available, apart from that used in immediate production, for each individual and all of society”.

Karl Marx. Fundamental elements for the critique of political economy (Grundrisse), 1857-1858

Objectives of the economy under socialism

The road to communism involves progressively “appropriating” increases in productivity, to the point of reducing “need-based” labor to zero.

The necessary working time will be aligned on the one hand with the needs of the social individual, while on the other hand we will witness such a growth of the productive forces that leisure will increase for everyone, while production will be calculated on the basis of the wealth of all. And since true wealth is the full productive power of all individuals, the pattern of measurement will then be not working time but available time.

Karl Marx. Capital, 1857

Organization of the economy under socialism

In a transition economy, the productive apparatus is managed by the workers as a whole in the manner of a gigantic cooperative federation which, together, plans the broad outlines of production in order to consciously subvert the meaning of the reserves by subordinating them to the needs of expanding consumption and reducing the working time needed to make it possible, that is, to the strategy of simultaneously increasing the productivity of labor -and, secondarily, of natural resources- and reducing “slave to necessity” labor, that is, wage labor.

In his main work, Marx has given and interpreted the formula of the capitalist reproduction: k + v + s, where k designates the constant capital or work instruments, v the variable capital, the wages or means of subsistence for the workers, and s the surplus value or added value in the work process, part of which is consumed by the capitalists and the other invested (capitalized) for the later growth of the production. The latter therefore necessarily involves the expanded accumulation of capital. In bourgeois society, capital increases only to the extent that the capitalists realize surplus value by selling the commodities in which it is contained. And in recent times, in order to make it easier to sell at better prices, they have resorted to the pure and simple destruction of a part of production. On the other hand, v increases only in a certain proportion of k. On the contrary, in a planned economy (understood: not a capitalist one), the increase of k depends only, exclusively, on the needs of v, which covers the whole population, and on the magnitude of s. This reversal suppresses the capitalist relations of production. k ceases to be capital, v is no longer the price of labor power that reduces the majority of the population to a minimal consumption, and in turn s appears in the form of newly created goods, ready for greater individual and collective consumption. There are no longer any profits, that is to say, alien labor appropriated by the bourgeois, by officials or by institutions. Expanded reproduction must therefore be envisaged as a response to the direct demands of the human set that makes up society; it is no longer capital accumulation. In other words, during the transition period the extension of consumption in its multiple orders presides over the extended accumulation (the old constant capital) and determines it.

G. Munis. Party-State, Stalinism, Revolution

Daily life under socialism

Politically, socialism is a dictatorship of the proletariat as a class over an organization of production that is still mercantile. Political power is exercised by the workers through their own assembly bodies and direct control of the cooperative structure of production.

In everyday life, socialism is the battle to reduce the cost in working hours of the production of everything, making its consumption free. Its history will be that of the conquest of gratuity for more and more products and services in parallel with the reduction of working hours until the whole of production loses the condition not only of commodity but of “scarce” good, at which time communism will have been achieved.

The abolition of the capitalist form of production makes it possible to restrict working hours to necessary work. The latter, however, under otherwise equal conditions, would expand its territory. On the one hand, because the worker’s living conditions would be more comfortable, and his vital demands greater. On the other hand, because a part of the current surplus labor would be counted as necessary work, that is, the work required to constitute a social reserve and accumulation fund.

The more the productive force of labor is increased, the more the working day can be reduced, and the more it is reduced, the more the intensity of labor can be increased. Socially speaking, labor productivity also increases with the economy. This does not only mean that the means of production are economized, but also that all useless work is avoided. While the capitalist mode of production imposes economization within each individual firm, its anarchic system of competition generates the most unbridled waste of the social means of production and of society’s labor forces, creating in addition a host of functions that are indispensable today, but in themselves and for themselves superfluous.

Once the intensity and the productive force of labor have been established, the necessary part of the social workday for material production will be all the shorter, and the longer the part of time gained for the free intellectual and social activity of individuals, the more evenly the work is distributed among all the able members of society.

Karl Marx. Capital, 1866

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