We live today in a world of potential abundance. The vast amount of wealth produced throughout the world takes the form of goods and services which are marked, which are intended for sale in order to realise a profit. Repeatedly over the years, statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organisation have demonstrated that world resources could be sufficient to feed the total world population several times over if fully cultivated. But the world market system is such that production must be trimmed to match sales potential. With the removal of this profit barrier, incredible forces of production would be unleashed.
Abundance is a relationship between supply and demand, where the former exceeds the latter. In socialism a buffer of surplus stock for any particular item, whether a consumer or a producer good, can be produced, to allow for future fluctuations in the demand for that item, and to provide an adequate response time for any necessary adjustments. Achieving abundance can be understood as the maintenance of an adequate buffer of stock in the light of extrapolated trends in demand. The relative abundance or scarcity of a good would be indicated by how easy or difficult it was to maintain such an adequate buffer stock in the face of a demand trend (upward, static, downward). It will thus be possible to choose how to combine different factors for production, and whether to use one rather than another, on the basis of their relative abundance/scarcity. By following the rule of using the minimum necessary amounts of the least abundant factors it will be possible to ensure their efficient allocation. Money as a "general unit of cost" would not come into it.
Defenders of the market such as Von Mises and Hayek appear not to understand the system which they represent. But this is not simply a matter of them putting forward fallacious assertions as a matter of ignorance. Their position is based on a crude defence of the privileged interests which do benefit from capitalism. In arguing in favour of these interests, it appears that any nonsense which defies the reality of experience will do. Their more honest position would be that the market system does work, but for those who monopolise the means of living and that therefore economic calculation of the exploitation of labour is indispensable in pursuit of that interest. Defenders of capitalism never seem to ask themselves the practical question about what is the critical factor determining a production initiative in a market system, and moreover, what is the function of a cost/price calculation in relation to that initiative. The answer is obvious from everyday experience. The factor which critically decides the production of commodities is the judgement that enterprises make about whether they can be sold in the market. Obviously, consumers buy in the market what they perceive as being for their needs. But whether or not the transaction takes place is not decided by needs, but by ability to pay. So the realisation of profit in the market determines both the production of goods and also the distribution of goods by various enterprises.
In the market system the motive of production, the organisation of production, and the distribution of goods are inseparable parts of the same economic process: the realisation of profit and the accumulation of capital. There is no choice about this. Commodity production is organised within the constraints of the circulation of capital. This capital can accumulate, maintain its level or become depleted. The economic pressure on capital is that of accumulation, the alternative is bankruptcy. The production and distribution of goods is entirely subordinate to the pressure, on capital to accumulate. Therefore the practical, technical organisation of production is entirely separate from the economic organisation of the accumulation of capital in which cost/ price, value factors play a vital part. The economic signals of the market are not signals to produce useful things. They signal the prospects of profit and capital accumulation. If there is a profit to be made then production will take place; if there is no prospect of profit, then production will not take place. Profit not need is the deciding factor.
What socialism will establish is a practical system of world production operating directly and solely for human needs. Socialism will be concerned solely with the production, distribution and consumption of useful goods and services in response to definite needs. It will integrate social needs with the material means of meeting those needs, that is to say, with active production. Under capitalism what appear to be production decisions are in fact decisions to go for profit in the market. Socialism will make economically-unencumbered production decisions as a direct response to needs. With production for use, then, the starting point will be needs. Socialism will not depend on calculations of labour-time or the conversion of these into costs since production will not be generating exchange-values for the market. Production for use will generate useful goods and services directly for need, and this will require not economic calculation but the communication of quantities of material things throughout production. This will result from the change in productive relationships. The use of labour in a market system begins with an exchange of labour-power for wages, which is an economic exchange between individual workers and invested capital. This will be replaced by direct co-operation between producers to satisfy social needs in the material form of productive activity.
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