In a socialist society, how would an individual obtain a leisure article, such as a TV?


VOL. 109 NO. 9


I was wondering how an individual might be able to obtain a certain item of leisure -- let's say a TV, a computer, a board game or simply a puzzle -- under socialism. Will there be stores where we will be able to go and just kind of be "given" these items (since there isn't a buy-sell situation), or would someone supply our needs and wants for us?

Ross Pavlik

Editor's reply:

The number and variety of goods available under socialism will vastly exceed the number and variety of commodities available under capitalism, and with considerably less waste of resources and raw materials. That includes what our reader refers to as "items of leisure."

There will also be stores where people can go and choose what they want or what they need from all the goods that will be developed and made available. They will make their choices as freely as they make them today, but without the constraints imposed by the system of sale and purchase. No one, other than the individual, will decide what he or she may need or want.

Modern technology used today to sell commodities over the World Wide Web will also be available for those who would prefer; but, again, without the constraints of sale and purchase as under capitalism.

People will be "given" nothing, except the opportunity to fill a productive and useful role in society. They will earn their right to consume goods and services by participating in their production and distribution.

Apart from all that, it should be added that there will be no money under socialism. With the abolition of private ownership of the means of production and production for sale and profit, the need for money as a medium of exchange will disappear. With the establishment of a system of production for use, labor-time vouchers, which the worker may exchange for goods and services, will replace money.

Accordingly, under socialism workers will receive a labor-time voucher from their unions showing that they have worked a certain number of hours. This time voucher will entitle workers to withdraw from the social store as much as they contributed to it, after the necessary deductions are made for replacement of worn-out equipment, expansion of production, schools, parks, public health, etc.

Since under socialism the means of production will be collectively owned (as they were cooperatively produced), "deductions" for maintaining and replacing them actually will not be deductions. And since the schools, parks, medical services, etc., will be for the use of all, neither will these really be deductions. In short, since the workers under socialism will collectively own the tools of production, the social services and everything else, making deductions for their maintenance and/or replacement, etc., simply will be providing for themselves, exactly as they will be providing for food, shelter, clothing, etc. Thus the workers will receive directly and indirectly all that they produce. Marx explained the use of labor-time vouchers as follows:

"...Accordingly, the individual producer gets back -- after the deductions -- exactly as much as he gives to it. What he has given to it is his individual share of labor. For instance, the social labor day consists of the sum of the individual labor hours; the individual labor time of the single producer is the fraction of the social labor day supplied by him, his share of it. He receives from the community a check [or voucher] showing that he has done so much labor (after deducting his labor due to the common fund), and with this check he draws from the common store as much of the means of consumption as costs an equal amount of labor. The same quantity of labor that he has given to society in one form, he receives back in another form." (THE GOTHA PROGRAM)