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Is there an alternative to how things are run?

This article is over 14 years, 5 months old
If we want to produce to meet people’s needs, we need planned production to replace the anarchy of the market.
Issue 2169

If we want to produce to meet people’s needs, we need planned production to replace the anarchy of the market.

Currently planning has a bad name. For many people it conjures up images of the former Soviet Union, where faceless bureaucrats created unachievable goals for industry.

This is not the type of “planning” that we need. For planning to work it needs to be democratic and involve those at the heart of production.

Planning cannot simply be organised on a local level. Production decisions at each workplace would be made in conjunction with overall strategies on a city-wide, regional and national level.

If we seriously want to deal with the problem of climate change, international planning is also needed. At the Copenhagen summit in December, the United Nations (UN) may well come up with a plan to stop climate change.

But because the UN is made up of the major world powers, whose interests are contrary to those of the planet, it will not put forward the strategy that we need to deal with climate change.

What’s more, governments can simply refuse to implement any agreements. Look at how the previous agreement – the Kyoto protocol – was ignored by various governments.

In a planned society, every individual would play a part in deciding how to implement the required changes, as part of a discussion with their colleagues, feeding back information and suggestions to those bodies overseeing the planning.

Contrast this with the way that most workers today are excluded from any decision making at their workplace, even though they are usually the ones who are clearest on where improvements could be made.

But if we are to have democratic planning, we also need democratic control of the world’s resources, as well as the workplaces, factories and farms. This means social ownership of the means of production – socialism. Unfortunately, those who own and control the world’s forests, mines and workplaces won’t simply give them up.

This is why the creation of a sustainable society will involve challenging the established order. With every workers’ struggle we see the potential for a new way of organising society. We also glimpse the power to challenge capitalism.


Every time workers organise they start, often in very small ways, to take control of their own lives. Recently this has been most obvious in workplace occupations. But it is also there on every picket line, in every union meeting and on every demonstration.

At moments of revolutionary struggle, millions of people become involved in trying to change society. In every revolution, the organisations that people have created to further their fight also start to show how society could be organised in the interests of people and planet.

If we are to create a truly sustainable society, it is these movements that we need to look to, rather than allowing ordinary people to be blamed for the ills of capitalism.

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