The Case for Socialism

Social ownership of economic property puts an end to the exploitation of the working class, whereby surplus labour is performed for the benefit of the capitalist class.

When there is social ownership, surplus labour takes place to meet the needs and aspirations of the working class and society as a whole. This will have to mean that workers and their representatives are fully represented in the economic and political spheres of decision-making, ensuring that surplus labour is not exploited for the benefit of a privileged class or group.

Since society first became divided into classes, the ruling class of the time has used the oppression of sections of the exploited classes to maximise exploitation and reinforce its rule. Under capitalism, the oppression of women, black workers and other groups has reaped super-profits and helped ensure the reproduction of existing class relations economically, ideologically and politically – not least by fomenting or perpetuating divisions within the working class itself.

Such oppression is sustained by sets of prejudicial ideas and assumptions, for example those of sexism and racism. These ideologies apply across class boundaries, affecting members of the oppressed group in every class, although their impact is felt most severely by those in the exploited classes.

Putting an end to capitalist property relations and the exploitation of labour would remove the material basis for social oppression. No class in society would gain from the super-exploitation of any section of the working class, or have the means by which to secure it. The reorientation of priorities in production to meet the needs of the people would further reduce the scope for conflict over scarce provision, whether of jobs, housing, public services or essential goods.

The experience of socialism confirms that prejudice and discrimination on grounds of gender, nationality, sexual orientation, age etc., can survive the abolition of capitalism, at least for a period, weakened but not altogether eliminated. But socialism furnishes the material basis, and therefore the potential, to bring all forms of social oppression to an end.

With the abolition of capitalism, the most powerful forces for the perpetuation of racist, sexist, homophobic and other reactionary attitudes are disarmed, leaving the forces of socialism with the responsibility to consign them to the rubbish heap of history, promoting a culture of equal rights and liberation instead.

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