from Raymond Williams’s text myself, they are not necessarily in the same order as they appear in
the book, and they are not continuous text, there are more things
written, obviously! I’m just quoting them as a whole instead of one by
one so that it can make a more or less coherent writing. The bold parts
are of my making too.
"Thus socialists made the case that production is an absolute human priority, and that those who object to its effects are simply sentimentalists or worse; moreover, that they are people who speak in bad faith, from their own comfort and privilege, about the effects of reducing poverty in the lives of others.
Under the spell of the notion of conquest and mastery, with its
mystique of overcoming all obstacles, of there being nothing too big
for men to tackle, socialism in fact lost its own most important
emphasis. It did not really look at what was visibly happening in the
most developed and civilized societies in the world, at what was
happening in England, this wealthy advanced industrial country which
was still full of aggregated poverty and unbelievable disorder and
This in spite of the fact that a
century and a half of dramatically increased production, though it has
transformed and in general improved our conditions, has not abolished
poverty, and has even created new kinds of poverty, just as certain
kinds of development create underdevelopments in other societies.
It is a capitalist response to say that if you produce more, these
things will put themselves right. The essential socialist case is that
the wealth and the poverty, the order
and the disorder, the production and the damage, are all parts of the
same process. In any honest account you have to see that they are all
connected, and that doing more of one kind of thing does not
necessarily mean that you’ll have less of the other.
Suppose we said ‘Have nothing in your shops but what you believe to be
beautiful or know to be useful.’ That is a criterion of production
which instead of a simple quantitative reckoning is relating production
to human need. Moreover it sees human need as something more than consumption,
that incredibly popular idea of our own time, which from the dominance
of capitalist marketing and advertising tries to reduce all human need
and desire to consumption. It is an extraordinary word, ‘consumer’. It is a way of seeing people as though they are either stomachs or furnaces.
‘And what sort of effect will this have on the consumer?’, politicians
ask, the consumer then being a very specialized variety of human being
with no brain, no eyes, no senses, but who can gulp.
Production becomes an end in itself and as such the answer to poverty.
‘Don’t tell me that production is needed, tell me production for what,
and who needs it.’
A lot of general ecology
is, as they say, ‘non political’. This is a serious position, but it is
not an adequate one, if only because ‘no politics’ is also politics,
and having no political position is a form of political position.
This non-political approach calls upon ‘the world’. They
are calling upon the leaders of the precise social orders which have
created the devastation to reverse their own processes. They
are calling upon them to go against the precise interests, the precise
social relationships which have produced their leadership.
Of course the leaders can at once say: ‘well, we’d love to proceed and
have a serious cutting back on certain kinds of harmful production, but
it wouldn’t be popular with the electorate.’ Increasingly, meanwhile,
the really ruling class dismisses the whole case as sentimental
nonsense, which simply limits or delays production and national power.
You cannot just say to people who have committed their lives and their
communities to certain kinds of production that this has all got to be
changed. You can’t just say ‘come out of the harmful industries, come
out of the dangerous industries, let us do something better.’ Everything will have to be done by negotiation, by equitable negotiation, and will have to be taken steadily along the way.
It is not really a matter of choice whether we can go on with certain
existing patterns and conditions of production, with all their damage
to life and health. Or even when they are not damaging, there is the
certainty that many of the resources at their present levels are going
to run out. And if this is so, then even at the simplest material level
the notion of an indefinite expansion of certain kinds of production,
and even more of certain kinds of consumption, is going to have to be
Productive growth, as such, is not the abolition of poverty.
What matters, always, is the way production is organized, the way the
products are distributed. It is also, and now crucially, the way in
which priorities between different forms of production are decided."