Nowhere in this book, or in his previous Third Millennium Press publications, does Melvin Chapman claim to be a socialist - he is indeed dubious of word ‘socialist’ - but throughout Question Everything, as in his previous publications, we find the author clearly propagating the case for a world without money and articulating many of the arguments Socialist Party members have been using against their political opponents for decades

Chapman, for instance, tears into the concept of leadership on a number of occasions, arguing that we have been conditioned to accept that we are ‘intellectually deficient’ and in need of betters who are “capable of organising and directing us”. And they of course can not control events because it the system that controls them; they too are “conditioned by the economic and political structures in which they were born.”

He is also critical of the reformist mentality, informing us how “No reform, nor attempt to improve the system…can do more than ameliorate its inconsistencies.”

He is derisive of what passes for democracy in capitalist society, observing that there “can be no democracy in a complex system designed to justify inequality, a system in which the power of money carries the right to govern, in which the governed accept their own inferiority, lack of self-respect and sense of worth, a system in which crime, conflict, nationalism, racism, ethnic cleansing…is inevitable.”

“Only in self government can there be freedom with order.” And ‘freedom’? Chapman insists that “Freedom lies in a society in which we can work together free of the social structures that inhibit consensus and in a social, political and economic environment that does not actively promote differences and confrontations.” The rub is that “Freedom depends upon knowledge…knowledge upon information…[but ] information is not knowledge… {because it is}limited and controlled….The individual has to have the facilities to understand and interpret, to know what there is to know and what questions to ask”

Chapman is at his best in attacking the logic of the profit system, for instance noting how “the money system has enabled the human species to develop the technology with which it dominates the earth, but it has become an excuse for ignoring the factors that impede its own social advance.” Highlighting the alienation the money system gives rise to, he comments: ”This creature Man…has allowed itself to be treated – and to treat itself – as of less consequence than a few copper coins, a few electronic pulses, no more than a dollar a day.”

He challenges the assumption that without money no one would work, pointing out how “the money system has given work a bad name, with connotations of long hours, stress, tiredness, monotony…even in this acquisitive society of ours, most of us do some sort of voluntary work…working for others is enjoyable provided that we do not feel that it is augmenting other people’s interests at our expense.” In a moneyless world, he maintains, “the man/woman power available would be virtually limitless. There would be plenty for them to do…our fellow man, our environment, our towns and cities, our talents and potentialities… there would be enough to keep us occupied for generations.”

He continues: “We assume that without money there would be anarchy, but it is the chaotic complexity of the money system and the governments required to maintain it that is anarchic.” There then follows a lengthy section in which Chapman envisages the benefits of a money less world before concluding that “the greatest benefit of all would be in the reduction or elimination of the anti-social emotions of greed, hatred, selfishness and aggression, which the money system makes inevitable and we would be able to treat ourselves and each other as the sort of human beings that we claim to be.”

A lot of this book is given over to how capitalist society conditions our consciousness; how it determines the way we think and act. Chapman is adamant we can overcome this conditioning and achieve the maturity needed to help forge a better world. And this ‘maturity’ he contests, lies “in the ability to question our inherited assumptions and to replace our primitive responses, our need to compete with an eliminate each other, by recognition of our responsibility to ourselves and to the wider universe. To free ourselves we have to “run the gauntlet of inherited impediments.”

The books great weakness lies, perhaps, in the suggestion of how we can get from capitalism to the moneyless world of free access to the benefits of civilisation. For Chapman, “the actual process of getting rid of money would require no more than the creation of a single International currency, followed by the gradual reduction in interest rates and an expansion of the quantity of money in circulation until it ceased to have any value.” Here, a closer scrutiny of the workings of capitalism and the implications of such a process, might have prompted the author to rethink this statement.

Moreover, emphasis on the democratic road to a money less world, how it must be the free and class conscious decision of the majority, would have enhanced this short book.

Accepting that Chapman does not claim to be a socialist and criticism aside, this work does have its merits in revealing, quite succinctly in places, the insanity of capitalism and in advancing the benefits of establishing moneyless system of society.

This self-published, short print-run book is available from the author at: Third Millennium Press, 51 Newton Road, Bath, BA2 1RW. No price is given.

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