I was talking to a new comrade last night for awhile about communism vs capitalism. I argued that the profit motive was at the root of most of our problems as a society. He argued that removing the profit motive from our economic system was a tall task, because if people aren’t motivated by self interest they won’t produce anything. Why work if there’s nothing in it for you? I’ll personally add that I assume most people think humans will only work if A. Someone is forcing them to or B there is some monetary incentive for them to do so.
Lets begin exploring that by confronting some questions. Is it okay to force people to work by withholding what they need to live? Also, is it okay that because the vast majority of people are being forced to work many are not even paid enough to meet their basic needs? Should those who are unable to work at all go without their basic needs met as well?
Now keep in mind we can feed and house everybody. The basic needs of all of humanity can be met if we choose to meet them. We could all live lives with more luxury and leisure. By combining human effort with the technology that currently exists the amount of work humans have to do could be drastically cut. A lot of the drudgery that we associate with labor could be removed from our lives altogether if we accepted that technology has made these jobs obsolete. As it is now, the truly wealthy don’t have to work. They enjoy incredible lives of leisure, and they don’t want to live any other way. They may feel they deserve everything they have, they may think if others worked harder they could have a few billion or trillion too. Except we know that’s not true. People work hard everyday all over this globe and have nothing.
So perhaps we shouldn’t look at taking a more equitable share of the profits from our labor as theft from the wealthy. Maybe we should consider that the theft is occurring when the profits from our labor are taken to begin with. If we could manage our companies ourselves and our labor on our own why do we need owners? Why should someone get to live a life of leisure off of our work?
So that brings us back to… Well if everybody enjoys an equitable share of the profits won’t everyone stop working? What would be the incentive to do anything?
Right now we are a one option society. Either work for others OR ELSE. If you don’t work for someone you would be homeless, hungry, and shut out of society. The only people who may manage to work for themselves had to either save money from when they did work for someone else, or acquire the capitol from someone who has willed it to them or given it to them.
We all know that just because our basic human needs are being met that we would likely still want things. Even if I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to eat tomorrow or worry about how I’ll pay my water bill I’m still going to want to buy pants. I’m still going to want to watch movies and read books. Something also tells me that humans are still going to want to make pants and make movies and write books. I’ll go a bit further and say that with more leisure time more people will actually be able to engage in the activities of reading and writing and watching and making films. Just having our basic needs met, and having an equitable distribution of wealth, will not result in people not wanting to produce and innovate new things.
In this new society people would have meaningful jobs and secure jobs. We would have a real choice of what to do for a living, because we would not be forced to labor to survive, our work would be voluntary. Voluntarily working and doing something you take joy and pride in would make you a more productive worker. People will take genuine joy in what they do, because they are doing it for more than just pay. Everyone has probably imagined what they would do if they were a billionaire, and most people admit that eventually they would want to do something good with their life and their time. Many folks in their retirement find things to do to keep them occupied. Humans like to be of use and busy. People want to contribute to the society that makes their life possible. It is in their self interest to do so.
Continued in part 2