Let’s talk about Sweden. Sweden is arguably the best example of a modern, successful, Democratic Socialist country on Earth, and Sweden proves that Democratic Socialism is possible, but it also proves that Democratic Socialism is not enough.
Sweden has worked very hard to share the spoils created by capitalist exploitation with those at the bottom of society, but Sweden has not eliminated that exploitation, and in fact, in many ways, Sweden has made a deal with the devil – using the exploitative nature of capitalism to fuel its welfare state.
What many do not know is that in the 1970s, and 1980s, Sweden almost made a real transition to Marxism. Unfortunately, the capitalist class rebelled, and the program was scrapped.
Other attempts to move to communism have proven disastrous, and for good reason. Marx imagined that after the workers of the world rebelled against the capitalist class, they would setup a temporary government, called the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat,’ which would run things while communism got up and running. These temporary governments, however, never seemed to go away, stalling the revolution in the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ phase, and making that dictatorship become brutal, in it’s quest to stay in power.
Power, it seems, corrupts.
But there are three steps we can take, through democratic means, to skip the dictatorship of the proletariat completely, and bring Marx’ dream to life! Those steps are: 1) transfer ownership of all businesses to the employees, 2) re-distribute all existing wealth equitably, and 3) migrate away from money. I am going to go through these steps in the order in which they need to occur, but note that at least steps one and two can happen concurrently.
The first step is to transfer all business ownership over to the employees working for each business. Marx envisioned doing this through a violent revolution, and then setting up a temporary government to put the pieces back together, and get communism on it’s feet, but that is not necessary. Sweden, as I mentioned earlier, found another way.
In the 1970s, Sweden implemented a mechanism called the Employee Wealth Fund, and made it law that every business create one. Each business had to then take a percentage of it’s profit, and put it into it’s Employee Wealth Fund. The fund, which was owned by the employees, invested this money in company stock, and had Sweden let this run it’s course, today all of the businesses in Sweden would be 100% employee-owned.
I suggest we utilize the Employee Wealth Fund mechanism to transfer all business ownership in the United States, away from the capitalist class, and to each business’ employees. Once a business is 100% employee owned, the wealth fund can distribute all proceeds directly to employees, with everyone getting an even split.
Sounds easy – right? It is! In it’s greed to make ownership transferrable, the capitalist class created the very mechanism we need to create Marxism, and best of all, by taking the money needed to buy each company out of the company profits, we make the capitalist owners themselves pay for this transfer!
Unfortunately, transferring ownership to the employees is only a part of the puzzle, which brings us to the second piece: redistributing existing wealth. believe it or not, but this is also relatively easy to do.
We do not have a fiat money system, so much as a debt-based money system (as our MMT brethren have come to realize!). We can use this to our advantage, as this system means that every dollar of wealth is balanced out by an equal dollar of debt (plus about $865 billion in paper currency). I propose that the government gradually write off all debt, replacing the debt-based money with physical money, which the government could spend into the economy, in as equitable a way as possible.
This system of debt-write-offs and physical currency expenditures would be gradual, starting with medical debt, then moving to student debt, credit card debt, and finally things like car loans, and home loans. We would not allow new debt to be incurred – all things would be paid for in cash, given by government directly to the people who need things (or, ‘to each according to their needs,’ as Marx put it).
The banks would all go out of business on this model, but that’s not a problem, as the government could take them over as a part of the bankruptcy process. The FDIC and Federal Reserve system already exist in such a way that this transfer would be seamless.
Some in the capitalist class would try to convert their money to something else. Stocks would not be an option, as all businesses would be in the process of being transferred to their employees. This leaves physical goods, like gold. Let them. Doing so actually helps us, when we get to step three!
Step three is the easiest of all. With all of our modern technology, and particularly artificial intelligence, we do not need money. We can transfer physical goods directly where they are needed in order to produce the abundance life requires, and then send the bounty produced directly to ‘we the people’.
The end result is a system in which all businesses are owned and operated by the employees, with production scientifically controlled by computers, controlling the distribution of both inputs, and outputs. All materials would go exactly where they are needed, exactly as they are needed, and there would be no capitalist class reducing the spoils labor enjoys!
Imagine how much more could be produced with the elimination of all of the waste that is inherent under capitalism. We would have more – not less, and would see a perfectly equitable distribution.
Computers are color-blind, as well as gender-blind, and everything else blind, ending the euro-centric patriarchy we are all oppressed by, and giving us a new social order based on fairness and equity.
And the gold (and other things) the capitalist class transferred their wealth into during step two? The computer would allocate that, wherever it is needed, just as it would do with all other resources. The capitalists would have squirreled it away for nothing…
Utopian, you say? Go ahead – read this again, and tell me it can’t work…
The best thing of all is that this can be done with no revolution, and no dictatorship of the proletariat to stall-out on. This program would transfer the means of production directly to the workers – something that has never before been done.
True communism is within reach, and one of our favorite Democratic Socialist countries showed us the way!
Yea Sweden!! Yea Communism!!