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Marxism FAQ

Q.  Where is the incentive under Socialism?

A.  "Where is the incentive under Socialism?" is a commonly asked question."If everyone is paid the same wage than where is the incentive for the worker to produce more than he has to or even the quota amount?"

Lenin explains in the "State and Revolution", and Marx explains in"Critique of the Gotha Program", it is impossible to jumpstraight from capitalism to the most advanced stage of human society - a classless society based on the democratic administration of things in the interests of all. Communism is based on being able to provide more than needed for everyone - and though in the US we could reach that level fairly quickly, it is still not there right now. This is why a transitionalperiod, which we often refer to as socialism is necessary.

During this timethere will still be elements of the old society (some market economy, some armed forces until the whole world is in the deomcratic hands of theworkers, etc.) But already things will be moving rapidly towards thecomplete dissolution of the state, of the market economy and so on. Once the workers begin to democraticly all plan the BIG industries - the ones which dominate ourlives - energy, banking, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, etc., then we will be putting the surplus produced by the workers towards improving our lives.

New technology and greater productivity of labor will lead to a decrease inthe working day, to more time for study, travel, exploration, research,music, art, culture, etc. Nowadays the incentive to work harder is "work so you can pay your rent, your mortgage, your interest on credit card and school loans, your over-priced food, healthcare, transportation, and entertainment, and so on or STARVE". THAT is the only incentive capitalism offers us! Why work more efficiently at work if you know you have to be there for 8 hours no matter what?

Under socialism, the incentive to come up with more efficient ways to do things is that we'd have to work less time to do the same amount of work! The amount of NECESSARY labor needed to produce the things we NEED like food, housing, etc. would gradually decrease so that eventually we may only need to "work" for 2 hours a week or less! Of course as humans we would not be lazy and sit around - humans are curious, exploratory, and want to learn, invent, etc. Our "free" time would be spent creating ever better works of art, scientific research, cures for diseases,etc. After a period of time, the new generations will not even know what it was like under capitalism, and the productivity of labor will be tremendoulsy high. The barrier between "work" and raw human exploration and mastery over its environment (in harmony with the environment!) will disappear also - no more coercive state, police, etc. No more chaos in the markets - the workers will plan what we need and then reinvest a portion to continually make even better things. EVERYONE will be "rich" so to speak - able to travel, to live comfortably, to eat what they wish, to continue their education throughout life.

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