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Frequently Asked Questions

What is socialism?

When the means of producing goods and services, as well as finance, are owned, controlled and managed by those who work in industry, commerce, education, health care, transport, entertainment, the arts, culture and other sectors. Priorities for production and public spending are decided by elected committees of producers, consumers and users and form the basis for local, regional and national plans. Parliament and capitalist state structures like the police, military and monarchy are replaced by new bodies, based on mass democratic control, directly representing different sections in society.

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Without the profit motive what incentives will there be?

Profits are only an incentive for the small minority of capitalists and shareholders. The vast majority simply work to earn a wage. The incentive will be how to use technology to satisfy human needs, help reduce the working week and improve the quality of life for all. Even under capitalism, services like the NHS have developed without the profit motive.

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How will the economy be reorganised?

Instead of putting people out of work, new technology will be used to reduce working hours with no loss of pay.

The anarchy of the global market economy and the international financial system will be replaced by planned production for need and not for profit. The priorities will be housing, food, education, medical care, social provision, transport, sport and culture. Financial institutions like banks, building societies and the pension funds will come under social control with full protection for depositors and contributors. These resources can then be diverted to public projects.

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Surely what happened in the Soviet Union
proves socialism can't work?

When the Russian Revolution took place in 1917, over 80% of the country were peasants and the economy was undeveloped. The revolution became isolated and Stalin and his supporters based their power on the conservative state bureaucracy. As a result, a dictatorship grew up and socialism was never reached. Nevertheless, the Soviet Union showed it was possible to build an economy up without a capitalist class. Britain has a far more advanced economy and technology than Russia had then. This would help us to make rapid progress to a new society and avoid the problems that the Soviet Union had.

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Is it necessary to have a revolution to achieve socialism? Why can't we just vote them out?

History has shown that powerful classes based on privilege and wealth do not give up their power without a struggle and eventually have to be overthrown. But if a new party builds mass support for change, the creation of a socialist society could be achieved in a relatively peaceful way.

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Would socialism abolish the market?

At the moment, goods are put on the market in the hope that they will sell. Huge spending on advertising tries to persuade people to buy more than they actually need through credit (and debt!). As a result, there is huge waste, unsold goods pile up, people lose their jobs and economies go into a slump. In a socialist economy, the mechanism of the market would be play second place to a plan for production. The market will be a means of distributing goods that committees of producers and consumers have decided are needed. If people don't buy the goods, priorities will obviously have to change.

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What will happen to small businesses and
shops?

They will not be affected by socialist forms of ownership. The real targets are the big corporations and financial companies which dominate the economy. A socialist economy would encourage co-operate forms of enterprise.

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Will everyone earn the same?

No. But the great inequalities that now exist would end. A socialist society could not allow a nurse to scrape by while consultants earned huge sums.

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You want to join the MSF?

Joining is easy. Either:

  What is socialism?
What incentives will there be?
How will the economy be reorganised?
What happened in the Soviet Union?
Why do we need a revolution?
Socialism & the market
Small businesses
Wages

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