Socialism will be a global society based on the common ownership and democratic control of the world’s natural and industrial resources. But how might this work? How will production, decision-making and culture be affected?

Production

There will be a complete transformation in the calculation of resources, and their production and distribution. In capitalism articles of wealth (commodities) are produced to be bought and sold on markets, at a profit. This trade in commodities generates: waste; pollution and externalities; overproduction and under -production; built-in obsolescence; quantity over quality; crisis and booms; poverty amidst plenty; employment for some and a waste in human potential for most; and obscene wealth for the few.

We are all 'socialists' now. Let us witness the parade: The Churchill Tory socialists, the French Radical Socialists, the totalitarian 'socialist' governments including the black, brown and red shirts, the New – Deal—Fair – Deal creeping 'socialists,' the Labour Parties of Europe, the Asiatic 'socialist' and 'communist' governments as well as those in Africa and South America, the colonial 'socialist' groups, the various alleged socialist organisations throughout the world such as the Social Democrats, Trotzkyites, the Communist parties, syndicalists, I.W.W., Socialist Labour Party and the Companion Parties for Socialism in Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, U.S.A., Australia and New Zealand. Then there are the anarchists, Christian 'socialists,' pacifists and a whole host of others. By no means have we exhausted the list of marchers in the 'socialist' parade.

No wonder Maximilian Rubel, in his dilemma: 'The Uses of the Word "Socialism"' in the Winter 1954 issue of the American magazine Dissent, would prefer 'to abandon the word 'socialism' and would substitute some other word for it that would 'save the conceptual content once attached to this term.'

The basis of any society is the way its members are organised for the production and distribution of wealth. Where a section of society controls the use of the means of production, then there is a class society. Another way of putting this is that the members of this section or class own the means of production, since to be in a position to control the use of something is efectively to own it, whether or not this is accompanied by some legal title deed.

It follows that a classless society is one in which the use of the means of production is controlled by all members of society on an equal basis, and not just by a section of them to the exclusion of the rest.

Although the word socialism is itself more or less modern, its meaning can be said to go back to early religious sects of the ancient world and was taken up by religious dissidents in mediaeval times. Words attributed to John Ball during the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 capture its meaning very well:

My friends, things cannot go well in England, nor ever, until everything shall be held in common, when there shall be neither vassal nor lord and all distinctions levelled, when lords shall be no more masters than ourselves.

But it was not until the 19th Century that the concept of socialism (or communism) was developed by utopian socialists and then more systematically by Marx and Engels.

The most common rebuttal of socialist society is that it is impossible to achieve because ‘you can't change human nature.’ Some people think that socialism sounds great but will never work in practice. They say it would only work in a world with perfect people. However, not only has ‘human nature’ changed many times in the past but there is no such thing as a static human nature. We are products of our environment, particularly of the wealth-producing system in which we live. People living under feudalism are motivated by feudal motives and think them natural and fixed, just as people living under capitalism are motivated by capitalist motives and mistakenly think those natural and fixed.