Workers Hammer No. 216

Autumn 2011


Quote of the issue

The abolition of private ownership

The latest international economic crisis is a consequence of the capitalist system, which is based on private ownership of the means of production and the exploitation of the labour power of the proletariat. What is necessary to escape the inevitable cycles of boom and bust and the resulting immiseration of the workers and oppressed is socialist revolution to overthrow the capitalist system and replace it with a socialised, planned economy. In the below extract, Friedrich Engels explains the benefits to humanity of the final abolition of private ownership.

Above all, through society’s taking out of the hands of the private capitalists the use of all the productive forces and means of communication as well as the exchange and distribution of products and managing them according to a plan corresponding to the means available and the needs of the whole of society, all the evil consequences of the present running of large-scale industry will be done away with. There will be an end of crises; the extended production, which under the present system of society means overproduction and is such a great cause of misery, will then not even be adequate and will have to be expanded much further. Instead of creating misery, overproduction beyond the immediate needs of society will mean the satisfaction of the needs of all, create new needs and at the same time the means to satisfy them. It will be the condition and the cause of new advances, and it will achieve these advances without thereby, as always hitherto, bringing the order of society into confusion. Once liberated from the pressure of private ownership, large-scale industry will develop on a scale that will make its present level of development seem as paltry as seems the manufacturing system compared with the large-scale industry of our time. This development of industry will provide society with a sufficient quantity of products to satisfy the needs of all.…

The general association of all members of society for the common and planned exploitation of the productive forces, the expansion of production to a degree where it will satisfy the needs of all, the termination of the condition where the needs of some are satisfied at the expense of others, the complete annihilation of classes and their antagonisms, the all-round development of the abilities of all the members of society through doing away with the hitherto existing division of labour, through industrial education, through change of activity, through the participation of all in the enjoyments provided by all, through the merging of town and country — such are the main results of the abolition of private property.

— Friedrich Engels, Principles of Communism, printed in Marx and Engels, Collected Works, Volume 6 (Lawrence & Wishart, 1976)