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Socialist perspective

If man is not given the opportunity to work for a rational and humanistic goal, the individual will instead fall victim to the irrational and devilish visions of dictators and demagogues.


7. September 1963 

The transition from the present centralized state to a completely decentralized form of society must necessarily take place gradually over a longer period of time. Central planning and government interference will be inevitable.

But from the very beginning, one must aim to replace bureaucratic forms of control with forms that encourage each citizen to actively and responsibly participate in all areas of social, economic and political life. Although the state must continue to exercise control, the state itself must be brought under effective control by its citizens.

It will require years of study and effort to arrive at absolutely correct directions for the transition to a socialist society, studies and trials that require the efforts of the country's best minds and hearts.

For now, it is only possible to give some hints about the road ahead.

The principle is that Social control and not legal property are crucial to socialism. The immediate goal will then be to transform all major companies in such a way that their managers are appointed and under the full control of all employees (workers, salaried employees, engineers, administrators, etc.) together with representatives of trade unions and consumers. These groups constitute the highest authority for any major enterprise. They decide all the main issues regarding production, price, utilization of profits etc. All employees have a share in the company's profits. They also help to meet the entire social and cultural needs of society.

The central planning body will not limit each company's self-government more than is necessary for production to serve society's needs.

Smaller companies should work collaboratively and should be encouraged by tax policy and other means. In smaller companies that are not cooperative, employees must share profits and control over management on an equal footing with the owner.

Banks, transport, oil and other important industries must be nationalized, but managed according to the same principles of effective control of employees, trade unions and consumers.

In all areas where there is a societal need but not sufficient production in progress, society must finance companies that meet these needs.

The power of bureaucrats must be broken in all areas, not just the political ones.

The individual must be made as free as possible from fear and coercion. Therefore, society must ensure for free that each individual is guaranteed a minimum of food, housing and clothing. Anyone with greater material needs must work for them. But when a minimum of material income is ensured, no human being can exert material pressure on another.

Socialism does not abolish private property for its own use, nor does it require full equalization of all income. Income must be in proportion to effort and skill. But the income difference must not be greater than that not all people can be treated on an equal footing.

Political democracy must be carried out in accordance with the realities of the 20th century. But the technical aids one now has, it is possible to reintroduce the principle of city assemblies in contemporary mass societies. In studies and experiments, one must find out how this can be done. It can be about forming hundreds and thousands of small groups where everyone knows each other. Such groups can be organized where you work or where you live. In this way a new kind can be formed another chamber which can share power with a centrally elected parliament. Decentralization must aim for as many local decisions as possible, albeit in accordance with the principles that underlie the whole of society. The point is that well-informed and responsible citizens will make decisions instead of automated mass people who are controlled by the pure mass suggestion. The power of bureaucrats must be broken in all areas, not just the political. Several decisions must come from below instead of from above. Workers organized in trade unions must have constant contact with central authorities. New measures, laws, regulations, etc. should preferably be implemented with the support of the individual voters. All elected representatives must be subject to constant criticism and, if necessary, be removed from office.

The aim of socialism is, of course, to abolish national sovereignty, all kinds of armed forces and to establish a union of nations.

The goal of upbringing and education must be to enable the individual never to be exploited as a tool for others. Knowledge must mean, not accumulating information, but using reason to acknowledge the underlying forces that determine material and human development. Knowledge must not only serve the purpose of material production, but also to develop the individual's sense and character. In order for the acquisition of knowledge not to become lifeless, theoretical training should take place hand in hand with manual work in primary and secondary school. Every young person should know how to create something valuable with their own hands.

Adult education must be greatly expanded. Every human being should at any time in life be free to change profession. Financially, this will not be feasible without a minimum of the material needs in all cases being covered by society.

We appeal to every citizen to feel responsible for their lives, for their children and for all of humanity. Man is faced with his most fateful choice: either to build a world that, although it does not become a paradise, can make the individual better able to realize his own possibilities, a world of joy and creative abilities, or a world that destroys itself themselves, either by atomic bombs, or by emptiness and boredom.

Many will argue that people do not want ideals, that they do not want to look beyond their immediate surroundings at all. We socialists say that this is not true. On the contrary, people have a deep longing or something they can live for and believe in. Man is dependent on a content in life, on a goal outside everyday life to strive towards, no matter how difficult it may be to reach.

If man is not given the opportunity to work for a rational and humanistic goal, the individual will instead fall victim to the irrational and devilish visions of dictators and demagogues. The weakness of the present society is precisely that it offers no ideals, that it requires no faith, that it has no perspective.

The weakness of the present society is precisely that it offers no ideals, that it requires no faith, that it has no perspective.

Socialization must necessarily begin within the socialist parties, through the responsible participation of each member. As long as socialist parties do not implement this socialist principle within their own ranks, they cannot wait to convince others. If they gain political power, they will only follow their ideas in a capitalist spirit, no matter what socialist labels they use. The same goes for unions; to the extent that their goal is industrial democracy, they must introduce the principle of democracy into their own organizations, instead of running them as any major business following a capitalist pattern.

Erich Fromm, who is behind these basic considerations, is a German-American social psychologist, known for his humanistic view of socialism, as opposed to the authoritarian one.

The column from the time of Ny Tids Orientering (1953-1975) edited by Line Fausko.

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