Building Another World
You do not have to be a liberal to understand, as the Communist parties of the world have failed to do repeatedly, that 'power corrupts', that 'absolute power corrupts absolutely' and that dictatorship, whether of the proletariat or the Dear Leader, will never lead to Socialism. In looking for alternatiives to Capitalism, this inevitability for corruption must be taken into account. It cannot wholly be erased from organisations, structures - authority must exist, and certainly not from human nature.
This means that the economic, political and social institutions and activities must be structured and authority distributed to ensure the corruption is limited. Governance and management must be open and transparent. The system must be democratic, appointments fair, and those in power must have limited terms of office at the end of which they are removed as far as possible from the authority of the post they held. As far as possible structures of authority must be decentralised.
It might be observed how these requirements are diametrically opposite from the characteristics of the Soviet Union or Communist China.
As Socialism has to take into account the liberal awareness of the nature of power, it will aIso have to understand conservative suspicion of change. Change, particularly the incessant and rapid change we are told is inevitable, is a particular feature of Capitalism. It provides opportunities for the wealthy, the rootless and the quick-witted. For the rest of us, its ruthless and relentless destruction of established institutions and undermining of accepted and understood practices and patterns of living renders working people more vulnerable, as they are deemed surplus to requirements and expendable, pressured to become cheaper and more amenable to demands of their bosses.
It is claimed, of course, that this improves efficiency. For society it does not. In very many cases it doesn't even improve efficiency of businesses, as experienced staff are lost and those that are retained are actively looking to leave as soon as any better offer comes up. What it improves are the cvs of those who make their reputations by cutting business costs - and leaving before the effects of their disastrous cost-cutting becomes apparent, and the short term rewards for shareholders.
The challenge we face can be simply stated. It is to create an open and democratic and free society that is stable, prosperous and in which all have a stake. That this is not the usual understanding of a Socialist society is a testimony to the efficacy of the black propaganda of Capital and an indictment of many previous Socialist efforts.