Abundance for all! — the 10-point political programme that can win the masses to socialism
Socialist political programmes need to both ‘raise consciousness’ and appeal to the needs and wants of the masses. Taking power and keeping it requires: winning over the majority of a given population, including the downwardly mobile lower middle class; winning over the majority of the rank and file in the armed forces; incentivising capitulation and splitting the right, especially small farmers and large land owners (in order to limit counter-revolutionary activity and alliances). Socialist parties therefore need to prioritise mass, universalist politics if they are to succeed.
Communism has always been destined to be a system of fully automated production capable of providing abundant material wealth for all, thereby transcending class antagonisms. History has shown that most people respond best to incentives that will improve their living standards.
The following example is based on Britain but is largely applicable elsewhere.
ABUNDANCE FOR ALL!
10-point programme for a green, wealthy and sovereign Britain
1) Sovereignty of the people and nation: liberation from the dictates of capital accumulation; end Britain’s dependence on parasitic finance and neo-colonialism; reduce dependence on imports by increasing self-sufficiency
The working class has no (stake in the) nation while it remains ruled by the capitalist class and the dictates of capital accumulation. Britain has no sovereignty while its economy remains dependent on parasitic finance and neo-colonial economic relations. The British economy’s imperialist character has made it increasingly and dangerously dependent on imports. As outlined below, only socialism can rebuild its self-sufficiency. For Britain to stand on its own feet, this will include returning British corporations’ overseas assets, which rightfully belong to the nations in which they reside, to the nations in which they are situated.
2) Public ownership of production and ownership
Capitalism is unsustainable since the inevitable development of automation and 3D-printing is abolishing the source of exchange-value and profit — ie, capital’s exploitation of commodity-producing human labour. Interest, GDP and profit rates, as well as commodity prices, are all trending historically towards zero. The private sector is increasingly dependent on state subsidies and orders and is therefore trending towards nationalisation. As the oldest capitalist country, Britain has long had the world’s lowest rate of profit and is therefore logically the country ripest for socialism.
Production and services must be nationalised and centrally planned in order to co-ordinate quantity, distribution, accounting costs and price stability. The exponential improvement in computing power, stock control and information processing means the problems associated with planning in the past no longer exist.
The banks, utilities and large manufacturers will be nationalised first. Those who refuse fair buyouts (based on long-term debt payments) will be expropriated without compensation (if they haven’t already gone bust). We will build highly automated and 3-D printing state enterprises to bring down the costs of mass production to the minimum, thereby passing on increasingly cheaper prices to the masses. Unprofitable land will be nationalised. While the rest of the land is being gradually nationalised, the small number of remaining large land owners will pay a high land tax; small farmers will receive high tax relief. Public institutions will be run by councils elected by and accountable to their workers and users. Sports clubs will owned and run by their fans.
3) A green industrialial revolution that is actually green
Socialism will reindustrialise Britain and build a highly-accessible public transport system in every region. The final transition completing the historical trend towards full automation will progressively reduce and then end the scarcity that pits people and classes against each other in competition for jobs and limited resources. As production continues to become more efficient, the working week will again begin to shorten, enabling increasingly more free time for collective and individual creativity and the revival of independent craftsmanship.
Ongoing innovation, however, must be achieved without turbocharging global warming, which means transitioning as quickly as possible from extraction-based production. Since hemp can be converted into almost anything – including batteries and computer chips that outperform lithium and graphene – a transition to production based on hemp and other fibrous plants, along with the perhaps equally versatile mycelium, is necessary. Hemp also heals the soil and rapidly draws down CO2, so hemp farming will be fully legalised and maximised. Investment in mycelium-based production, hydroponics, permaculture, flash graphene, CO2 mineralisation, space-based solar, (now safe, emissions-free) nuclear energy, and lab-grown food and jewelry will also help to smooth over the transition from extractive and labour-intense production (along with the resocialisation of the land), while reviving the environment and ending emissions and pollution.
4) Actual full employment, including extensive earn-as-you learn trainee schemes
Under capitalism, unemployment grows inevitably alongside surplus capital that becomes unprofitable to reinvest. Since socialism creates value according to utility instead of exploitability/profitability, socialism will remove this fetter on productivity, enabling actual full employment. We will invest in the young, unemployed, rehabilitated prisoners and those put out of work by new technology by maximising earn-as-you learn trainee schemes in order to combat the chronic understaffing that has come to characterise industries, professions and services under capitalism. Full employment, by providing the foundation for a healthy and secure life for all, will also significantly reduce crime and therefore the burdens on health and social services, prisons and courts.
5) Reduced working week and retirement age
Britain’s workers are overworked physically and mentally throughout their lives. As soon as full employment has been achieved we will reduce the working week to 33.5 hours — spreading out the burden of work— and immediately reverse the extension to the retirement age that was made in 2018. As production becomes more efficient, the working week and retirement age will continue to shorten.
6) Peg currency to labour time and end exploitation
British pound sterling has devalued by more than 99.5% since 1694, the year it was adopted as official currency. Hyperinflation, the collapse of fiat currency against precious metals, is likely imminent. This is again due to the rise of automation and the fact that Britain’s workforce is now largely services-based (80%), and therefore relatively unexploitable, given that services workers tend to handle only finished or semi-finished commodities. Since fiat currency is dying a natural death and value-creation needs to be meausured against utility instead of exploitability and commodification, currency needs to be fixed to labour time. This, combined with socially owned production that operates on a break-even basis, is what will enable full employment and revive productivity growth.
We will gradually complete the inevitable transition to a cashless society, which demands a digital credit system (by making sure everyone has access to this first). This will make accounting and budgeting far more intelligible to the electorate and therefore improve its ability to hold elected officials accounatable. 6.5 hours of labour will earn you 6.5 labour credits, enough to spend on consumer goods which took 6.5 hours to make. A grading system will be used to incentivise types of work and productivity rates, and a marketing algorithm to adjust and stabilise consumer prices according to supply and demand. Labour credits will be cancelled once spent, like train tickets. Such a system rewards hard work, stops private interests from appropriating value created by employees, and prevents unearned wealth from accumulating in the hands of a few through monopolisation, speculation or corruption. Interest and indirect taxes will also be banned.
7) Universal education, health, social and child care, free at the point of access
An educated and healthy population is a productive and wealthy population. Education up to and including university will be free at the point of access. Earning a degree will come with a guaranteed job offer in the field studied following qualification. Primary, middle and secondary class sizes will be reduced by training a higher number of teachers and building more schools. Health care will be universally available, free at the point of access. Preventative health care will be prioritised and we will build patient-run mental health retreats. Social care will be universally free for disabled and elderly people. Child care will be free at the point of access. We will build both day centres for the retired and youth centres in every local community. All this will be funded through income tax, land rent and product sales.
8) CANCEL ALL mortgages and personal debt
Private property is a crumbling institution, as evidenced by the falling rates of home ownership under capitalism. Socialism will fulfil the promise of a home-owning democracy that capitalism inevitably failed to deliver, by transforming housing from private property into personal property. No more private banks gambling with your mortgage on the stock market. No more lifelong millstones around your neck. We will cancel all existing mortgages and personal debt and entitle every household, regardless of class, to remain in and own the property (ie the material of the building) in which they live. Other properties will be purchased by the state from their landlords if they are needed for housing the homeless, for hospitals, and so on. If purchases for unused properties are refused, they will be expropriated. Anyone who is required to move in the future due to environmental/infrastructural revival will be fairly compensated.
9) Nationwide, LOW-rent house-building programme
Socialism will end the housing crisis and rebuild communities by embarking on a nationwide housing construction programme, including social and communal housing. By scaling up the latest 3D-printing technology, we will quickly end the housing crisis by building quality, spacious and carbon-negative homes. Building on flood plains will be prohibited. Rent will be set as a small proportion of income and/or according to differential convenience or amenity of land.
10) A democratically negotiated new constitution – involving ALL the people and implemented with their consent – enshrining the rights to equality, privacy, peaceful protest, free speech, housing, work, education, health, social and child care in a people’s democratic socialist republic.
A constitutional reform committee made up of economists, lawyers, social scientists, trade unionists and so on will draft a provisional constitution which: (a) reflects the new political, social and economic relations – ie the fact that the country is now a socialist people’s republic; (b) enshrines a people’s rights charter that includes updated equal rights, accounting for all the diversity of the working class; (c) guarantees the right to democratic participation and a free smartphone app that makes polling and voting easy and accessible (issues not addressed in the 10-point programme will be decided on democratically). The draft will then be amended via a democratically negotiated process involving all of society (on a voluntary basis). The committee will put the draft to all political parties, public institutions, communities, trade unions, activist organisations, civil society and so on, who will discuss it with their members and then feed back their proposed amendments. The committee will then amend the draft and balance any conflicting interests as fairly as possible, but with majority opinion tending to hold sway. A final version will be put to a popular vote for ratification. If less than the majority of votes reject it, it will be re-amended through further negotiation and then put to another vote, and so on until a majority in favour is secured.
Ted Reese is author of Socialism or Extinction: Climate, Automation and War in the Final Capitalist Breakdown