Can there be a good socialist government

We live in a time of growing inequality between the rich and poor, when the environment is being destroyed to the point of threatening our very existence, because of a system that prioritises profit. Here are 10 reasons why socialism is the way forward to solve society’s problems.

1. THE DESTRUCTION OF CLASS DIVISION

Under capitalism, people are divided on the basis of class. There are the 1%, who own the wealth and the means to produce wealth, and the rest of us, the 99%, who sell their labour to produce profit for the 1%.

Socialism means the elimination of these class barriers and the organisation of production and resources to enable all people to live fulfilled lives and to ensure environmental sustainability.

2. REAL PEOPLE-POWERED DEMOCRACY

Democracy under capitalism is an illusion and not a participatory system of government. The interests of the 1% are also reflected and reinforced in the media over the interests of ordinary people. Politicians answer to corporate interests while the bureaucracy, judiciary, police and armed forces are unaccountable.

Socialism will allow for a democratic system in which the people collectively participate in decision making and have full democratic control over the economy.

3. DEMOCRATIC CONTROL OVER WORKPLACES

Under capitalism, democracy ends at the entrance to the workplace. The interests of business owners and their drive for profit take precedence over the rights of workers. The recent attempts by the Abbott government to take away penalty rates are the latest example of how under capitalism the good of the nation is defined by what is good for employers but harmful to workers.

Socialism means workers gaining democratic control over their workplaces within a framework of democratic control of the economy and the prioritisation of human need and environmental sustainability.

4. AN EQUAL AND FAIR JUSTICE SYSTEM

We are told that we are equal under the law but under the capitalist legal system injustice is rampant — from racial profiling, to deaths in custody, to corporations hiding profits to evade tax. The police serve as armed guards for capitalist interests rather than as protectors of the people.

Under socialism, the elimination of economic divisions in society will create an equitable justice system that ensures fairness for all people.

5. PROMOTING GENDER EQUALITY

The oppression of women originated thousands of years ago with the growth of the first hierarchical societies. Repression of female sexuality stemmed from men who were powerful enough to accumulate property wishing to have known heirs to inherit their wealth and status.

Today, capitalism benefits from the unpaid labour of women in child rearing and providing domestic services. Sexism and gender inequality are the tools capitalism uses to promote division within the 99%. Racism, homophobia and other prejudice-based ideologies function in the same way.

Sexism means that all women face multiple forms of oppression — from discrimination in the workplace and lack of equal wages, to ideas of how women should dress, talk, behave and generally live, to the constant threat of violence on the streets, in social environments and, especially, in the home.

Socialism will create the potential to eliminate gender inequality. However, millennia of socially ingrained sexism will not automatically disappear without a strong feminist consciousness in the socialist movement. Without a strong movement for women's rights now, it will be difficult to overcome the divisions within the 99% that make challenging the power of the 1% impossible.

6. IMPROVED LGBTI RIGHTS

According to Australian Marriage Equality poll, 64% of Australians support same-sex marriage. Dividing Australians on this issue benefits the capitalist system by causing distraction.

Denying marriage and adoption rights to the LGBTI community, and introducing legislation that actively oppresses the community — like the “religious freedom” legislation that Tasmania is proposing — is how the capitalist system tries to maintain the traditional idea of a nuclear family, which is needed to raise the next generation of workers.

Equality is a crucial part of socialism, which is a system that does not accommodate restrictions on individual lifestyles or discredit the value of one’s labour due to gender.

7. FREE EDUCATION NOT CORPORATE DEGREE FACTORIES

Education under capitalism is a source of class division and is seen as an economic asset within our community. Education has become just another commodity. The desire to improve human potential through sharing knowledge has become another means by which the ruling class can profit and control the working class.

Education under socialism would not be profit driven, but would be seen as the basic human right to knowledge and to increase our potential through knowledge. To this end, education under socialism would be free, and those engaged in study would be provided with affordable housing and a living wage.

8. AN END TO RACIST GOVERNMENT POLICIES

The Western Australian government is in the process of shutting down 150 remote Aboriginal communities, by turning off their power and water, because these communities have been deemed unsustainable. At the same time the federal government continues to disregard international law by detaining refugees in more horrendous circumstances than those they were fleeing.

Racism, like sexism and homophobia, is another means by which the ruling class divides the working class. We are fed lies by the government and Murdoch press until we’re afraid of the supposed “floods of refugees”.

Socialism promotes solidarity, a way for all oppressed and marginalised groups in society to support each other and fight for something better, because it is the same system that oppresses us all.

9. FOR A MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

In the past three decades, half of the Great Barrier Reef has been destroyed. Tony Abbott has abolished the renewable energy target and attacked many environmental agencies such as the Climate Commission, Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Environmental Defenders Office. It is imperative if our planet is to sustain life that we do more than just reform and carbon-trading.

A socialist solution would be motivated by preservation and climate justice, not profit, and would distribute resources more effectively than a profit based system, in which two-thirds of the world’s food is wasted for profit generation.

10. PEOPLE-POWERED MEDIA NOT THE MURDOCH PRESS

In Australia, 59% of all newspaper sales are of News Corp-owned publications. If you include Fairfax in the mix, 86% of newspaper sales go to the two companies.

These are the publications, particularly the Murdoch-owned press, that have been accused of using their print media to influence election results. It is rare to find Murdoch or Fairfax journalists who are left of centre and even rarer to find an article openly promoting socialism in the Herald Sun or Courier Mail.

This is why people powered media such as Green Left Weekly is so crucial in counteracting the pro-capitalist ideology promoted in the mainstream press and offering an alternative to the capitalist system.

How can it be achieved?

The transition to socialism will not happen overnight, nor is it a given that when people finally get frustrated enough with capitalism, that they would automatically turn to socialism. There is also the threat that they may move the other way towards fascism.

The move towards socialism requires grassroots participation of activists and passionate individuals working collectively, who believe that another world is possible and that, more importantly, the working class has the power to build it.