Mainstream, VOL LIV No 44 New Delhi October 22, 2016
Socialism for Our Times
Sunday 23 October 2016, by
In the perception of most people socialism is identified with a system based on economic equality and a path of planned economic development to ensure this equality.
This basic principle of equality should get very wide support. In fact we start with this basic precept.
However, one problem is that some who started with this basic principle moved away from it at the practical level because they did not have a proper understanding of what constitutes progress and development. So it is very important to avoid this mistake in future and give adequate attention to defining and understanding the concepts of progress and development.
While socialism is based on economic equality, social equality is also very important. It is another basic precept that there should be no discrimination and injustice based on caste, religion, ethnicity, race, colour and gender. Of course this principle doesn’t stand in the way of protective efforts to make up for historical injustices.
As socialism is basically for justice, it should include justice for all forms of life and not just for human beings.
Ecological ruin, climate change and collapse of life-giving systems threatens human beings and all forms of life more than ever before and this threat is likely to become the most important issue for the coming generations. So these survival issues should get the topmost attention, and the biggest challenge for socialists today is to find solutions for these emerging challenges that are based on their basic precepts of equality and justice.
Top priority should be given to meeting the basic needs of all people on a sustainable basis. Given the escalating ecological crisis, this is increasingly possible only by accepting the basic principles of justice and equality. Hence the relevance of and the need for the basic idea of socialism is increasing.
Just as today there is even greater need than before for equality within various countries, similarly there is greater need now for equality among various countries at the international level. The entire world needs to be reorganised on the basis of the basic principle of meeting needs and discouraging greed. The progress of science and technology should be linked to this. Equality and simplicity should be emphasised nationally and internationally at all levels, while too much luxury and inequalities should be strongly discouraged, with tax systems and strong anti-corruption efforts linked to this.
Several tasks of greatest urgency in the coming years can only be achieved in conditions of national and international peace and cooperation. In addition peace at all levels is greatly needed for reducing human distress. A deep commitment to peace and disarmament is needed, including a time-bound programme for the elimination from the earth of the most destructive weapons. This can be achieved only by a greater sense of one earth, one world which can take people from narrower considerations to a wider relationship of friendship, cooperation and protection at the world level.
However, we should realise that socialists can move towards such a promising future with increasing numbers of people only if they can give up narrow and irrational divisions among themselves so that can agree to a common programme of creative work and struggles with very broadbased unity among them, a unity which is rooted in the basic principles of socialism.
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