Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/933/24301

From The Socialist newspaper, 25 January 2017

Capitalist myth-buster!

Don't we need competition to spur on progress?

A socialist plan would allow a surge forward in science, technology and medicine, photo US Army RDECOM (Creative Commons)

A socialist plan would allow a surge forward in science, technology and medicine, photo US Army RDECOM (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Sarah Wrack answers

In many ways capitalist competition is a lie. Just look at the huge monopoly on the mobile phone market held by Apple and Samsung between them. And for the last 15 years those two companies have been waging legal battles over patent infringements as they continually copy from each other.

They are able to 'compete' partly because they can cope with the costs of such legal battles - amounting to billions of dollars. So it seems it's the ability to enforce cooperation and the sharing of information, rather than freedom of competition, which creates the best mobile phones!

And individuals are not equally free to compete and achieve either. Those with money - and the education, health and networks that come with that - have more than a step up on those with less. If anything, socialism would in fact balloon the 'competition' because huge numbers of those who previously had no chance of reaching their full potential would be able to.

After all, it's not companies that further things but people. And people who are well fed with nutritious food, well educated in reasonably sized classes, and not constantly stressed by the possibility of losing their home or job, are much more likely to be able to achieve great things. All of those things would be offered by a socialist plan that put need before profit.

Science

Most people would instinctively recognise that the most efficient way of pursuing any scientific advance is by pooling all knowledge and expertise in the field.

Instead, we have ten different companies which have worked out one piece of the puzzle and then desperately try to keep it secret from the others. Nowhere is this clearer and more perverse than in the pharmaceutical industry.

Scientists have warned of an approaching 'antibiotic apocalypse' because of growing resistance to the drugs. It has been 30 years since the last new class of antibiotics was released - because big pharma can't see a profit in research and development. No progress there, despite plenty of capitalist competition.

And sometimes the deadly role of the industry goes much further. In 2001, 39 companies took legal action against South Africa to stop the government importing cheap versions of patented antiretroviral drugs at the height of the HIV/Aids crisis in the country.

So in fact competition between private profit-hunters holds back human development. Socialism, in contrast, is the only way to allow it to blossom.

Human beings have always striven to understand more about our world, to test ourselves and to improve our lives. Long before capitalism existed people looked up to the stars and wanted to understand, built mechanisms to create more food and to make their homes safer, created new and improved ways of communicating, and so on.

Achievements

In a socialist society - one which takes the majority of the economy into public ownership and democratically plans production to meet the needs of the population - these kinds of achievements would benefit humanity as a whole, not just those with the greatest means.

People could still be proud of themselves and those they know, have a profile as the one who solves a certain problem or is best at something, and be rewarded for that.

But that isn't the meaning of competition under capitalism. Under capitalism competition means those at the top have obscene amounts and those at the bottom have none. It means duplication and waste.

Why do we need hundreds of brands of washing powder that do the same thing? A socialist plan could produce one range of washing powders which people decide are best at the job and least damaging to the environment.

Russian revolution

In Feruary (March in the new calendar) 1917 in Petrograd, Russia, a protest on International Women's Day against the unbearable social conditions caused by World War One, triggered the start of the Russian Revolution

In Feruary (March in the new calendar) 1917 in Petrograd, Russia, a protest on International Women's Day against the unbearable social conditions caused by World War One, triggered the start of the Russian Revolution   (Click to enlarge)

Consider the impact of the 1917 Russian revolution. Russia was an economically backward country - the majority of the population lived in the countryside and could not read or write, they were ruled over by neo-feudal landlords in a system of inefficient small scale farming.

And yet just 40 years later - a micro-second on the scale of human history - the Soviet Union beat the US to launching the first satellite into space. A planned economy, even with the huge distortions and limitations of the Stalinist bureaucracy, was able to massively speed up the 'progress' of that area of the world.

This also partly explains why most of the biggest advances in recent history have actually come through research and development by public institutions rather than private companies.

The World Wide Web, for example, was created by Tim Berners-Lee while working at Cern (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) - a facility funded mainly by EU governments.

GPS technology was developed by a group of scientists working for the US Department of Defense. Of course these public achievements aren't used effectively for public good but instead are exploited by the private sector to boost its profits.

Real progress for the 99% is progress for all. Under capitalism all progress is exploited and distorted for the bosses' purposes.

Technological advances should make jobs easier and working hours shorter, not increase unemployment and inequality. Only a democratic socialist plan can offer that future.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 25 January 2017:


What we think

Millions on women's marches around the world: Build a mass movement against Trumpism, austerity and capitalism


NHS under attack

NHS SOS: Save the Women's Hospital

Defiant mood at North Tyneside STP consultation

Lancashire: Hospital workers protest consultation

St Austell: STPs attacked

Paignton: organising against hospital closure


Socialist Party news and analysis

Reject Surrey's 15% council tax increase

Bristol police taser own race relations adviser

2016 hottest year on record, air poisonous

Wales council votes to buy back homes

Trident trouble

Isle of Wight independents resign over cuts

Come to the TUSC national conference 2017!


International socialist news and analysis

Huge anger internationally on marches against Trump

India: struggle against land grab in Pune

International news in brief


Workplace news and analysis

RMT determinedly continues Southern strike

Incensed BA cabin crew strike and protest over pay

Steely opposition growing to Tata pension offer

2017 Unite general secretary and executive elections


Socialist Party Marxist analysis

Don't we need competition to spur on progress?


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Huge anger against Trump across Britain

Surrey: Save our fire station

South London: march to save community centres

Obituary: Bernard Roome 1947-2017


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Ed Balls: 'Speaking Out' for capitalism

The Socialist inbox


 

Home   |   The Socialist 25 January 2017   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Competition:

triangleEU: busting the myths that Remain is best for the 99%

triangleLetter: Parcel farce

triangleWhat we saw

triangleThem & Us

triangleRegulator eyes Royal Mail for profit

Capitalism:

triangleWeb series review: Cooked - "How capitalism ruined eating"

Socialist:

triangleWolverhampton & Black Country Socialist Party: How would socialism work?

triangleBirmingham South East Socialist Party: The Battle of Cable Street

Profit:

triangleHealth cuts responsible for rise in deaths - reverse all austerity now

Technology:

triangleLeeds Socialist Party: New technology & the gig economy

Planned economy:

triangleFighting the great tax robbery: taxes and regulation or socialist nationalisation?

Inequality:

triangleUniversal basic income - what do socialists say?

Health:

triangleWhat we saw

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

22/2/17

Wages

30% of people on inadequate incomes in UK

22/2/17

NHS

Support the NHS? Join the march!

22/2/17

The Socialist

What we saw

22/2/17

Fees

Stop the student loan sell-off - scrap all fees

22/2/17

Minimum wage

Argos fails to pay staff minimum wage - taxman cuts fine in half!

22/2/17

Health

Health cuts responsible for rise in deaths - reverse all austerity now

16/2/17

Aslef

Aslef members reject Southern deal - now for coordinated action to fight to win

15/2/17

Socialist Students

Socialist Students: growing, brimming with confidence

15/2/17

NHS

March to save #OurNHS

15/2/17

Local government

Council cuts can be fought - and they must be!

15/2/17

Benefits

Super-rich subsidised

15/2/17

Prisons

Prison deaths scandal: invest in better inmate and staff conditions

15/2/17

Refugees

Save child refugees, fight the cuts

15/2/17

EU

Corbyn needs to stand up to Brexit rebels

11/2/17

Welfare

60 Years After Beveridge Welfare reform - back to the future?

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle22 Feb Support the NHS? Join the march!

triangle22 Feb Thousands more protest and plan to walkout

triangle22 Feb February revolution 1917 - what lessons for today?

triangle21 Feb Dublin: #JobstownNotGuilty

triangle17 Feb Tata pension deal: 'Gun to the head' offer accepted

triangle16 Feb Aslef members reject Southern deal - now for coordinated action to...

triangle15 Feb Socialist Students: growing, brimming with confidence

More ...

triangle26 Feb Wales Socialist Party conference

triangle27 Feb Leeds Socialist Party: Building the Socialist Party in Leeds

triangle27 Feb Nottingham Socialist Party: The inspirational life of Eleanor Marx

triangle27 Feb Birmingham Central Socialist Party: NHS cuts - What do The Tories' STP plans involve?

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice