Incentive Under Socialism


Class Conscious
Jan 5, 2022
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Many people are genuinely puzzled by the Socialist contention that production will go on under Socialism without the existing privileges and inequalities. "How," they ask, "will people be induced to work except under the incentive of wages and the possibility of getting into a higher-paid grade or of escaping into the ranks of the propertied class, who can live without working?"

They are not much impressed with the answer that normal healthy human beings who have been educated to an understanding of the social system, and trained to perform useful work do not want to escape working. They want to work and need no more inducement than is given by the knowledge that work must be done to keep society going, and that they are playing their part in it along with their fellow men and women. One curious thing is that it is never himself that the questioner has in mind. He never says that he won't work, but will try to sponge on those who do; always it is some other fellow who will do this.

The same blind spot exists when the defenders of capitalism try to justify their system and its supposed "principles" of distributing rewards. In the abstract they defend capitalism on the ground that it is good and necessary that each individual should be looking after himself and trying to get or grab as much as he can, but when it comes to particular cases (always concerned with the other fellow) they repudiate their own principle.

Notice how they object to the unemployed receiving a miserly dole without having to work, but never object to the millionaires (most of them in that position through inheritance) being able to live in luxurious idleness. Read the angry letters in the Press objecting to certain workers having changed their jobs in war time in order to get more wages—letters usually written by men whose income is far higher than the one they complain about.
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