That’s possibly what you’re asking. How could any of these Changes actually stop the problems of Capitalism that we’ve talked about?
For starters they end the contradiction between profit and wages by ending that entire system. No longer is the system built on the necessity of profit. Instead of the need to first make money for a private owner, the needs of the Community are put first. Shelter, food, water, heat in colder environments, and transport. These are all ensured for everyone without the need for anyone to pay for them, and are regarded as human rights. No one is left without simply for not having adequate money. Without profits and wages governing the economy, it no longer lurches from one economic catastrophe to the next, and no one is left wanting.
The details of how this is accomplished vary between the different proposed ideologies, but all of them directly eliminate profit and Capitalist wage systems. Some of them do so through the use of “labor-notes,” which I have criticised before. But even though these systems are problematic from a moral and systemic point of view, they are still superior to Capitalist wage-systems. As “labor-notes” are not given based on a private owner’s profits, but instead based on the availability of goods and needs. And a “labor-notes” system of wages does not deny anyone what they need to survive, it’s really simply a ration method to ensure that goods and needs are distributed fairly, so nothing is hoarded by some and denied to others. Even advocates of it rarely see it as anything more than a temporary measure until the revolution is over and scarcity is fully eliminated. This system was used by the Soviet Union, which certainly stands as a testament to the flaws of such a system, but also it’s positive sides. After all: the Great Depression did not have an effect on Russia, which experienced a period of prosperity and expansion of industry during that time.
Others advocate a system where goods and needs are simply distributed to all based on availability and need by a Democratic system, all without the issuance or exchange of any type of currency, even labor notes. This group often points to the region of Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War, where this very system was used to great effect. There was no one lacking any need or good until supply lines were cut off by the Government’s forces. War always creates severe scarcity of everything. Were it not for the war, it is difficult to see how anyone would have been without whatever they needed or wanted, despite no money being used.
By eliminating private ownership over the means of production, and profit we liberate everyone from the tyranny of “The Puritan Work Ethic,” from tedious and unnecessary work, as well as overproduction. With wage-labor motivated by the need for profit, people have to work a certain amount of hours just to gain enough money to survive, whether or not that work even needs done that much. This creates a system which over-produces everything and reduces all workers to a life of drudgery. But without profit there is no need to over-produce anything. Products can be made in only as much as is needed or wanted, and distributed for the same reasons. Meaning that no one has to work a set amount of hours beyond the bare minimum to produce what is needed. Leaving everyone With far more free time to pursue their passions, which enriches all of society.
The end of profit also means that the value of someone’s work is no longer determined by how wealthy it can make a business owner. Meaning that work which was cast aside by society as “hobbies,” or worse, would be able to flourish under Communism. Art would be in great abundance under Communism, as it would be no longer be restricted by the need for profit or the poverty of the artist. But “hobbies” are not simply artistic pursuits, many such interests are in math, science, medicine, and a myriad of other subjects which greatly benefit all of society, but get tossed aside under Capitalism simply because the individual doesn’t have the knowledge or interest in marketing their research to Capitalist investors. Or simply such investors lack interest in investing in pursuits which they cannot turn a profit on, even if it will benefit society. Because Capitalism only gives value to things which can turn a profit for someone. Ending this tyranny of profit would free academia to expand in every direction, and also free its availability up to the entire population.
The elimination of profit and Capitalist wage-labor has another effect which contributes to the end of class divisions: ending the division of labor. As Karl Marx describes it in “The German Ideology:”
“For as soon as the distribution of labour comes into being, each man has a particular, exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a herdsman, or a critical critic, and must remain so if he does not want to lose his means of livelihood; while in Communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic. This fixation of social activity, this consolidation of what we ourselves produce into an objective power above us, growing out of our control, thwarting our expectations, bringing to naught our calculations, is one of the chief factors in historical development up till now.”
This not only increases everyone’s happiness, but their productivity as well. Because people work more efficiently when they’re happy, and labor power is no longer being wasted by making anyone work more than is necessary, nor making them work jobs they hate or aren’t even the best at. Everyone’s talents and interests can be allowed to be applied to their greatest effect. And the general education and capabilities of the population as a whole will be greatly increased. Because under Communism everyone has the opportunity to learn a myriad of different skills and knowledge, but they also have the opportunity to focus on any subject or skill they please in order to become an expert in that field. This is all accomplished by the elimination of profit, Capitalist Wages, and the need for every individual to work a specific number of hours so they personally can acquire enough currency to survive. When these are gone it no longer matters who performs a job or when, because the product of that job benefits all anyway. So who performs that job can be different at different times. All that matters is that the job gets done, not who does it or how long it takes.
This also tackles homelessness and joblessness, allowing everyone access to their rights to shelter and work. Because when profit and private ownership of business no longer exists there is no longer a need to prohibit any one from doing a job. Once again: all that matters is that a job is done, it doesn’t matter how many people perform it. There’s always work that needs done, and everyone will benefit from the produce of that work, So everyone would be encouraged to perform as many jobs as they want instead of being forced to do a single job for their entire lives, and an employer only hiring as few people as possible in order to increase profits as things are now. As for homelessness: already right now in the U.S. there are more empty homes than homeless people. The problem is not lack of homes or a lack of resources to build homes. The problem is the need for profit and currency. People’s needs under Capitalism are not placed first, profit is. And so, those who need a home are denied one simply for lacking currency to purchase one. We have the resources at this very moment to end homelessness in the blink of an eye, all that stands in the way is profit and the Capitalist system which necessitates profit.
The elimination of the necessity for profit also goes very far towards ending the degradation of the environment. As global warming, and other damage to the environment, is almost entirely created through overproduction and the pursuit of profit before everything else. A socio-economic system that is not built on profit would have no reason to keep using practices or making products that damage the environment, because abandoning such practices or products wouldn’t have any negative impact on profits since there would be no profits to begin with. Under Capitalism, such destructive behaviors are not only performed in spite of knowledge to their destructive nature, they are continually expanded. Because Capitalism necessitates that a business continually expands to continually generate profit. As Edward Abbey wrote in “The Second Rape of the West:”
“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”
And as Murray Bookchin put it in his book “Remaking Society:”
“To speak of ‘limits to growth’ under a capitalistic market economy is as meaningless as to speak of limits of warfare under a warrior society. The moral pieties, that are voiced today by many well-meaning environmentalists, are as naive as the moral pieties of multinationals are manipulative. Capitalism can no more be ‘persuaded’ to limit growth than a human being can be ‘persuaded’ to stop breathing. Attempts to ‘green’ capitalism, to make it ‘ecological’, are doomed by the very nature of the system as a system of endless growth.”
Ending the pursuit of profit, ending Capitalism, allows us to have a system that is sustainable. Because when profit no longer governs our lives or our socio-economic system, any and all practices or products that damage our environment can be abandoned without economic repercussions, and they can be replaced by sustainable ones. Because ending profit and the division of labor also means that no potential “green” technology would lack funding or people to undertake it, nor would it ever be deemed “too expensive” to pursue, as that very concept wouldn’t exist anymore as a fact of society.
Then there is the issue of Democracy. As I’ve already pointed out: Democracy cannot exist under a Capitalist system. The only thing it can ever be is a Plutocratic-Oligarchy. When the ownership and control over the means of production is removed from private hands and placed into the hands of the people through a Democratic system that is composed of the people rather than held above them as a State, then and only then can Democracy exist. With the end of this ends the accumulation of gross personal wealth and political power, ending the influence of such things over the Governmental process. Power resides with the means of production, it always has, and always will. It is, after all, the single greatest influence on our lives, because it is the things which we all need and rely on for a modern life. And so, once again: whoever controls the means of production controls society and the organization of society; whoever controls the means of production controls the Government. So, in order to have a Democratic Government, a Government “Of the people, by the people, and for the people,” the means of production must be Democratically controlled by the people, not private owners, nor controlled by an alienating State-type-Government. This is what Communism accomplishes.
Of course, as I’ve said before: this is not a guarantee simply because private ownership over the means of production has been eliminated, eliminating the constitution of Government as a State is just as integral. Because the best any State-type-Government can ever be is an Oligarchy. But the institution of Socialism is integral to that process, because as long as private ownership over the means of production is continued, then Government will continue to be dominated by those private owners.
I am by no means making the assumption that an actual perfect system can be achieved by implementing these changes. A perfect society is impossible But we can and should always strive for a better society than what we have, especially when the current society is so oppressive and exploitative, as it is now. If no one ever attempted to correct the flaws of society simply because perfection was unobtainable we would certainly be living in a much worse world than even now, and we absolutely wouldn’t have even a semblance of Democracy. Neither are any of these changes a guarantee that things could never become worse, more tyrannical. No system can serve such a guarantee. Just look how many Capitalist Republics have fallen to totalitarian regimes every bit as horrendous as what everyone imagines the totalitarian systems of past Communist regimes to have been. Still, even a skeptic can see how a Governmental and economic system which prohibits any single person or group from having control over it would be much more difficult to turn towards totalitarianism and oppression. The most vulnerable that such a society can be is when it is first being built, and it is during that time when our society must be more vigilant than ever at resisting those elements which will seek to end Democracy. That is really what it comes down to, and always has: the vigilance of the people to build and protect their Democracy. Even the United States while it was in its infancy nearly fell to a Dictatorship. The leadership of the military, a mere weeks after defeating the British forces, approached George Washington with a plan to seize power and establish an American Monarchy. The only thing which stopped the plan was the fact that Washington had no desire for it. The battle for Democracy never ends, but it always begins with our desire to realize it.
The only way to realize Democracy, the only way to end the greatest problems of our society: poverty, homelessness, slave-like wage-labor, over-production, environmental degradation, and undemocratic Government, is to place ownership and control over the means of production into the hands of the people as a whole through a truly Democratic system, and the only way to have a truly Democratic system is to end all class systems. Otherwise Government will simply be an Oligarchy of whatever ruling class exists. The only way to do that is to structure Government so that it is not elevated above the people, so that it is instead composed of the people themselves, so that it is a proper Communist Government. Communism is the cure to the maladies of Capitalism, and the maladies that continue to plague us from past systems, it is the only cure to them, and the only system to finally realize a truly Democratic society.