Thursday, 29 November 2007

Why Marxists Do Not Call for Nationalisation by the Capitalist State

”5. Centralisation of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.

6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.

7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.”

“The Communist Manifesto”

These lines are often cited as giving a broad outline of the way Communists seek to replace the private ownership of the means of production with state control i.e. the nationalisation of the means of production. In the “Transitional Program” Trotsky outlines further demands for the nationalisation of the Banks and finance houses, and of the “expropriation of these 60 or 200 feudalistic capitalist overlords (in the US)”, and so on.

In the USSR the process of socialist construction set out by Lenin was clearly one by which the State would guide economic activity, and impose its will upon any remaining capitalist enterprises, including the confiscation of such capitalist property. A look at the propaganda and programmes of virtually all Left wing groups shows the repeated demand for the nationalisation of private capitalist property as a solution to this or that immediate problem, or even as was the case with the Militant in their call for the nationalisation under workers control of the commanding heights of the economy served as the actual Socialist Revolution istelf implemented through Parliament.

But, in fact all of these demands show just how far modern day Marxism has veered away from the Marxism of Marx and Engels. The truth is that not only did Marx and Engels not call for such nationalisations, but they in fact argued against nationalisation by the capitalist state! These demands for nationalisation are not the demands of Marxism, but the demands of Lassalleanism, a trend within the workers movement that both Marx and Engels went out of their way to combat.

Marx, the Manifesto and the Critique

If we take that first quote from the Communist Manifesto what is it that Marx and Engels ACTUALLY say. Prior to the above quote Marx and Engels state,

“The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organised as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible.”

In other words these actions are not demands for reforms to be implemented by the capitalist state they are actions to be undertaken by a workers state, by the working class organised as the Dictatorship of the Proletariat after it has won the battle of democracy i.e. after it has not only already become socially the dominant class, but has also conquered for itself political power.

A further ryder has to be added here too. Marx and Engels were later to say that large parts of the Communist Manifesto had become out of date. Indeed, even at the time they wrote it they themselves had in reality moved beyond it. The Manifesto was written on behalf of the Communist League, which still bore many of the defects of the League of the Just, outlined by Engels in his “History of the Communist League.” The League still represented some of the ideas of Young Hegelianism, it was in large part a self select organisation representing the continuation of the idea that change is brought about by “wise men” to whom the “Idea” is revealed. For Hegel that meant the State, for the Young Hegelians it was radical philosophers. Socialism remained something that was brought about from the top down, and was, therefore, necessarily statist. IN 1848 Marx and Engels thought Socialist Revolution was imminent – an idea that Engels himself was to argue later was ridiculous as at the time only England was a developed capitalist economy with a sizeable working class – that the bourgeois revolutions occurring throughout Europe would necessarily roll over by Permanent Revolution into Socialist Revolution.

But, even as they were writing the Manifesto, Marx and Engels were rapidly moving away from such notions. The implication of their theory of Historical Materialism demonstrated to them that the episodic eruptions of class struggle were no coincidence, but were merely the reflection of the fact that the vehicle of socialist revolution was no group of philosophers, no “wise men”, or State, or even professional revolutionary organisation, but was the working class itself, and on that basis it is only the working class that can liberate itself through its own action. Only by such action can it effect the social revolution, win the battle of democracy and make itself the dominant social class; only then can it create its own state, and only then can it begin to use that state as the means of its political domination of society. The roots of this movement can be seen in Marx’s Critiques of Hegel in which Marx dismantles both the form and content of Hegel’s dialectic. Indeed, as Colletti argues, in his Introduction to Marx’s Early Writings (Pelican Edition), Marx, the Historical Materialist, points out the necessity of the two things being inextricably linked, form and content cannot be separated for a materialist. The law of dialectics is not like say the law of gravity. We say that things are pulled towards the centre of the Earth due to the law of Gravity. But gravity is a material force. It is this force that causes an effect. But change does not occur due to the dialectic. The dialectic is not some mystical let alone material force that causes this change. Change occurs in the material world simply because that is the nature of matter itself. The dialectic is merely a description of the process of change not its cause. To consider it otherwise is indeed to give the dialectic some mystical power, some objective existence, and that can only be the case if it is conceptualised in the Hegelian sense as existing independently in the realm of ideas.

Indeed, this is important for this discussion. Behind the calls for nationalisation or other such reforms by the bourgeois state lurks the notion of petit-bourgeois socialism that the State can be seen outside class. In a number of works Lenin argues agianst the petit-bourgeois socialism of the Narodniks who held this view of the Russian State. But for a Marxist, for a Historical Materialist, the State cannot be analysed or viewed as some abstract form. It can only be seen as the State of some definite social class at some definite point in history. It is not only pointless and utopian, but harmful to the working class struggle to make calls on a capitalist state to undertake actions which are against its very nature as the State of the the Capitalist class, whether such calls are for this State to act progressively in Iraq or in domestic affairs. Such calls can only demobilise the working class, sow illusions in the nature of the State, and at the same time, as Marx was to explain, merely demonstrate to the workers how powerless they are, and how omnipotent the capitalists and their state. The starting point for all Marxists is to reject such formulas, and instead begin by helping the working class to get up off its knees by its own actions.

There are two clear examples of where Marx sets out this approach. In the Critique of the Gotha Programme, and in Capital. In the Critique of the Gotha Programme Marx writes,

“The German Workers' party — at least if it adopts the program — shows that its socialist ideas are not even skin-deep; in that, instead of treating existing society (and this holds good for any future one) as the basis of the existing state (or of the future state in the case of future society), it treats the state rather as an independent entity that possesses its own intellectual, ethical, and libertarian bases.”

Part IV

“Instead of arising from the revolutionary process of transformation of society, the "socialist organization of the total labour" "arises" from the "state aid" that the state gives to the producers' co-operative societies and which the state, not the workers, "calls into being". It is worthy of Lassalle's imagination that with state loans one can build a new society just as well as a new railway!
From the remnants of a sense of shame, "state aid" has been put -- under the democratic control of the "toiling people". …

Second, "democratic" means in German "Volksherrschaftlich" [by the rule of the people]. But what does "control by the rule of the people of the toiling people" mean? And particularly in the case of a toiling people which, through these demands that it puts to the state, expresses its full consciousness that it neither rules nor is ripe for ruling! ….

That the workers desire to establish the conditions for co-operative production on a social scale, and first of all on a national scale, in their own country, only means that they are working to revolutionize the present conditions of production, and it has nothing in common with the foundation of co-operative societies with state aid. But as far as the present co-operative societies are concerned, they are of value only insofar as they are the independent creations of the workers and not protégés either of the governments or of the bourgeois.”

Part III

Marx’s position here is clear. All talk of the State, without making clear that it is a class state, is meaningless. For socialists to make demands upon the “present state”, which is a capitalist state, which are appropriate for a workers state to undertake are both utopian and reactionary. In another part of the Critique Marx makes this abundantly clear.

“Right can never be higher than the economic structure of society and its cultural development conditioned thereby.”

Part I

It is, therefore, utopian to demand that bourgeois society grant as “Rights” those things, which only some future socialist society can provide. Indeed, as Marx sets out in the section here even the first stage of socialist society will be limited by “bourgeois” Right for the simple reason that until and if Man reaches the higher stage of Communism the whole basis of distribution must remain unequal for the simple reason that the Law of Value will require that even where “formal” equality prevails actual inequality will remain as a result of the unequal nature of Men’s abilities and talents.

In fact, Marx sets out so clearly how far he holds this belief that his ideas here would no doubt cause some consternation amongst the socialists of today infused with petit-bourgeois moralism. In relation to child labour under capitalism for instance, he says,

“"Prohibition of child labour." Here it was absolutely essential to state the age limit.

A general prohibition of child labour is incompatible with the existence of large-scale industry and hence an empty, pious wish. Its realization -- if it were possible -- would be reactionary, since, with a strict regulation of the working time according to the different age groups and other safety measures for the protection of children, an early combination of productive labour with education is one of the most potent means for the transformation of present-day society.”

So for Marx, the state cannot be viewed as simply an abstract form separate from the society of which it is part. The State under capitalism is a capitalist state. For socialists to suggest that this State can guarantee “Rights” – Marx outlines Rights such as free education etc. – which are not compatible with the development of the productive forces achieved by that Society, “Rights” which can only be guaranteed under socialism is to empty out the State of its class content, to reduce it to an abstract, and thereby miseducate the working class. Moreover, for Marx the revolutionary the capitalist state is the arch enemy the direct representative of capitalist power, its Executive Committee, and its bodies of armed men. Far from socialists advocating that such a state should be made more powerful by handing over to it, not just political power, but economic power it is the job of socialists wherever possible to argue for the minimisation of state power, and indeed, for it to be smashed. In relation to education for instance Marx states that the involvement of the state in education is “wholly objectionable”.

Not only is Marx opposed to socialists calling for nationalisation of the means of production by the capitalist state – even under workers control – but he is opposed even to the establishment of co-operatives under the tutelage of the capitalist state, and utilising state aid. Not because he is opposed to co-operatives – on the contrary – but because he is wholly opposed to the capitalist state being in any way involved in the process. Such involvement not only necessarily gives that state an increased hold over the working class through the control of the finance, but it also did nothing to develop the consciousness of the working class as providing its own solutions by its own actions.

“But as far as the present co-operative societies are concerned, they are of value only insofar as they are the independent creations of the workers and not protégés either of the governments or of the bourgeois.”

It is this clawing back into its own hands of the means of production by its own self-activity that is vital for Marx as integral to the class struggle, because it is only by this means that the working class can raise itself from a condition of subservience, and in the process create the material conditions for raising its own class consciousness. And it is clearly this method that Marx sees as the vital process of Social Revolution by the working class, the means by which it transforms property relations, thereby changing the objective material conditions upon which the ideological and political superstructure is created, the means by which the working class becomes socially dominant, and wins the battle of democracy, the means by which the ideas built upon co-operative production become dominant, and thereby enable the working class to carry through its political revolution. In Capital Marx writes,

“The co-operative factories of the labourers themselves represent within the old form the first sprouts of the new, although they naturally reproduce, and must reproduce, everywhere in their actual organisation all the shortcomings of the prevailing system. But the antithesis between capital and labour is overcome within them, if at first only by way of making the associated labourers into their own capitalist, i.e., by enabling them to use the means of production for the employment of their own labour. They show how a new mode of production naturally grows out of an old one, when the development of the material forces of production and of the corresponding forms of social production have reached a particular stage. Without the factory system arising out of the capitalist mode of production there could have been no co-operative factories. Nor could these have developed without the credit system arising out of the same mode of production. The credit system is not only the principal basis for the gradual transformation of capitalist private enterprises. into capitalist stock companies, but equally offers the means for the gradual extension of co-operative enterprises on a more or less national scale. The capitalist stock companies, as much as the co-operative factories, should be considered as transitional forms from the capitalist mode of production to the associated one, with the only distinction that the antagonism is resolved negatively in the one and positively in the other.” (emphasis added)

(Capital Vol III pp441-2)

The implication is that for Marx the process of social revolution is a long drawn out one, just as it was in fact for the bouregoisie. It implies a long period of class struggle. Co-operatives will be created, and some will fail. Workers conscioussness will be raised, and will fall. But through this process lessons will be learned. This outlook is also described by Marx in “The Grundrisse”. It is a completely different perspective to that on which Leninism has developed. There is one similarity, however. Trotsky in a number of his writings particularly in relation to the Chinese Revolution argues that the call for Soviets is important whether or not these Soviets actually achieve or even struggle for power. It is important he says because of the lessons that workers learn in creating them. In 1917 Soviets were able to arise quickly and effectively precisely because of the experience of establishing them in 1905. The more workers through their own actions take back control of their lives whether it is in establishing a co-operative, taking control of their estate or community, or establishing a Soviet or other form of Workers Democracy the more they learn how to do these things, the more they build their own self confidence and raise themselves off their knees. Demands placed for the bourgeois state to do any of these things for them have the exact opposite effect.

“And particularly in the case of a toiling people which, through these demands that it puts to the state, expresses its full consciousness that it neither rules nor is ripe for ruling! ….”

Engels and State Capitalism

But what then of Engels and his comments in regard of State Capitalism i.e. of the progressive nature of state capitalism, of nationalised industry compared to private ownership? Didn’t Engels write this in “Anti-Duhring” approved by Marx? Don’t Marxists have a duty to defend nationalised industry? Haven’t you said so yourself? The answer is yes. Engels is absolutely correct that nationalised industry and state capitalism represents as Marx himself had predicted a more mature form of capitalism, its logical progression. As Kautsky described the capitalist state is a far more powerful employer than any private capitalist, far better placed to effectively squeeze surplus value out of its employees. And yes socialists defend nationalised industry against a return to a more reactionary, less mature form of capitalism represented by private ownership, just as socialists defend capitalism itself against a return to feudalism. But once, the working class has reached a stage where socialism is possible, socialists do not argue for capitalism, do not argue for its more developed forms as a means of progress, but rather argue for socialism. A nationalised capitalist enterprise is progressive historically compared to a private capitalist enterprise – not because it treats workers or consumers better, usually the opposite is the case, but only because it represents the more mature form of capitalism and thereby is closer to its own demise – but socialists have no reason to argue for the creation of such enterprises. The job of socialists is rather to argue for socialist forms of property, for as Marx argued, the workers through their own self-activity to take back the means of production through the utilisation of their own Capital and savings, and through the use of commercial credit.

Incidentally at this point it is useful to note that modern socialists seem to have adopted the ideas of Lassalle rather than Marx in another respect here, and that is in relation to the denial of the possibility of workers accumulating Capital because of them remaining a slave class. The comments such as “Capitalism creates poverty” are replete within the literature and slogans of modern “Marxists”. Yet such ideas have no grounding in Marx himself. Quite the contrary. This idea of immiseration was developed by Marx’s adversary Lassalle in his “Iron Law of Wages” much criticised by Marx.

“It is as if, among slaves who have at last got behind the secret of slavery and broken out in rebellion, a slave still in thrall to obsolete notions were to inscribe on the program of the rebellion: Slavery must be abolished because the feeding of slaves in the system of slavery cannot exceed a certain low maximum!”

Part II

But as Marx points out although there is a minimum for wages determined by the subsistence needs of the working class as historically determined, there is no maximum for wages to rise to provided that labour continues to fulfil the requirement that it provides surplus value for the capitalist. It is only in this sense that the working class is a slave class that it can only work provided it provides a certain amount of free labour. But wages can rise without limit within that constraint both as a result of class struggle, and as a result of the natural development of the productive forces. Wages necessarily fall over time as a proportion of the total output, but if total output is expanding exceedingly rapidly that is wholly compatible with a large increase in absolute wages, and workers living standards, as indeed has been witnessed over the last 150 years. For anyone under such conditions to claim that “Capitalism creates poverty” is then a mockery of Marxist teaching, and a return to Lassalle’s “Iron Law”.

Lenin, The State and Revolution

Nor did Lenin vary in this respect from Marx. As was stated above in his early writings against the Narodniks Lenin repeatedly argues against the petit-bouregois subjectivism of Narodnik social and economic theory. In relation to the Narodniks various schemes for the Russian state to intervene Lenin again and again points out that this state cannot be seen outside of its class nature as a capitalist state, that the Narodniks place faith in this state as being in some sense an empty shell without class content. And in “The State and Revolution” Lenin is even more forthright. Marxists are not Anarchists he argues in relation to the proletarian state, we have no truck with the idea that the working class has no need of a state – at least as long as class society continues to exist – but he elaborates we are Anarchists in relation to the Capitalist state, we have no interest in encouraging it to become stronger to take on more control over society. Appeals to the capitalist state is the method of Opportunism not the method of the revolutionary.

"Marx agreed with Proudhon in that they both stood for the 'smashing' of the present day state machine. Neither the opportunists nor the Kautskyites wish to see this resemblance between Marxism and Anarchism (both proudhon and Bakunin) because they have departed from Marxism on this point."

Lenin - "The State and revolution" pp 64-5

Lenin’s concept of revolution and socialist construction is wholly consistent here. His approach to the agricultural reforms undertaken by Stolypin are a good example opf his approach, and of that I have outlined above. Some of those reforms taken from a purely analytical perpsective, from the perspective of historical materialism were progressive. They represented a natural development of capitalism within Russia. From that perspective there was no point in socialists OPPOSING such reforms. But that did not mean that socialists should SUPPORT them either, for the simple reason that these reforms were merely capitalist reforms. To the extent that they were progressive they should be DEFENDED against being rolled back, but socialists only role was to analyse them to explain to workers and peasants what they really meant, and to argue instead for socialism. But Lenin, faced with particular condiitons in Russia, did not have the same perspective of socialist revolution that Marx had based upon Marx’s analysis and perspective of socialist revolution in developed capitalist states, where a workingc lass with access to savings and credit could develop its own co-operative enterprises as an integral aspect of class struggle. Lenin reecognised the significance in such developed economies, of co-operative enterprise, but at the same time recognised its restrictions in the conditions of Russia.

"It goes without saying that Kautsky very emphatically maintains that communal, collective large-scale production is superior to capitalist large scale production. He deals with the experiments in collective farming made in England by the followers of Robert Owen* and with analogous communes in the United States of North America. All these experiments, says Kautsky, irrefutably prove that it is quite possible for workers to carry on large-scale modern farming collectively, but that for this possibility to become a reality "a number of definite economic, political, and intellectual conditions" are necessary. The transition of the small producer (both artisan and peasant) to collective production is hindered by the extremely low development of solidarity and discipline, the isolation, and the "property-owner fanaticism," noted not only among West-European peasants, but, let us add, also among the Russian "commune" peasants (recall A. N. Engelhardt and G. Uspensky). Kautsky categorically declares, "it is absurd to expect that the peasant in modern society will go over to communal production" (S. 129). “
* On pages 124-26 Kautsky describes the agricultural commune in Ralahine, of which, incidentally. Mr. Dioneo tells his Russian readers in Russkoye Bogatstvo,[51] No. 2, for this year. ___________________________________________________________________________________

Lenin Capitalism in Agriculture page 122

The point that Lenin makes here is important that the condition is the absence of an “extremely low development of solidarity and discipline, the isolation, and the "property-owner fanaticism,"” It was that which made the development of the co-operative at Ralahine in Ireland, the co-operatives in Lancashire, set out as examples by Marx, and the various other co-operative ventures established by Owen – and also less well known ones by the Chartists – successful. By the same token it was the absence of all those factors in Russia after the Revolution which meant that collective production both industrial and agricultural did not take root within the consciousness of the working class – largely made up of peasants that had recently moved to the towns and cities, and even more within the peasantry, and which led instead to the need for Managers etc. which itself led to bureaucratisation of the economy.

It was inevitable then that Lenin’s concept of socialist construction was highly statist that the workers state had to make up for that “extremely low development of solidarity and discipline, the isolation, and the "property-owner fanaticism”.

Trotsky and the Transitional Programme

Finally, then what about Trotsky and his calls in the Transitional programme for the expropriation of the top capitalists, of the financial institutions etc. The simple answer I could give here is that Trotsky as a good Leninist shared Lenin’s statist view of socialist construction. That would be true, but as I have said above Lenin only had that view of socialist construction AFTER the workers had gained control of the state. He was as he says in “State and Revolution” an anarchist in relation to the capitalist state. In short his position was the same as that outlined by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto.

In fact, the fuller answer has to be in relation to the nature of Transitional Demands themselves. The problem I have with Trotsky’s Transitional demands is not with the demands themselves particularly, but with the method of these demands. The whole basis of Transitional Demands methodically is to lead the working class by the nose to the point at which revolution becomes necessary. It is to put forward demands which appear reasonable, but which necessarily contradict the interests of capitalism, and thereby drive a deeper and deeper wedge between the workers and capitalists. As such they have less to do with treating the working class as the revolutionary agent, which transforms society through its own self-conscious activity, and more with treating the working class as a Pavlovian dog. The aim is not to bring about a social revolution of the type envisioned by Marx, i.e. a long drawn out process of class struggle during which time the working class increasingly draws back into its control the means of production and control over aspects of its life via various forms of workers democracy, but is to bring about a political revolution similar to that of 1917 in Russia.

And that logic is summed up by Trotsky at the end of the section in which he calls for the expropriation of these capitalists and of the financial institutions, and at the same time explains why such a demand is utopian on its own. He says,

“However, the stateisation of the banks will produce these favourable results only if the state power itself passes completely from the hands of the exploiters into the hands of the toilers.”

In short the demand is utopian unless seen as part of the series of Transitional Demands as a whole, and thereby outside effectively a struggle for power by the working class. To raise such a demand outside such conditions is meaningless if not reactionary.


The working class can only emancipate itself through its own conscious activity. Not only can it not achieve this via demands placed upon the capitalist state, but as Marx points out such demands only emphasise the extent to which the working class is not currently the ruling social class, but that in raising such demands “nor is ripe for ruling! ….” The working class can only raise itself up from that position as Marx argues by taking back control of the means of production via its own efforts through the establishment of co-operatives, and by the development of its own workers democracy. For the very reason that as Marx puts it, “the ruling ideas of every age are the ideas of the ruling class”, it is not possible for the working class as a whole to raise itself at once to the level of consciousness whereby it recognises the need to do this across society as a whole. The development of class-consciousness is uneven. It is possible, particularly with the assistance of a Workers Party to help educate the workers and point the way, for groups of workers to establish co-operatives, and thereby begin to change the basis of the productive relations, and thereby social relations. It is on this basis through a prolonged period of class struggle and using the experience gained in this process that wider and wider groups of workers can be drawn into the process, and co-operative enterprise spread throughout the economy. For the historical materialist it is this changed material condition, which provides the basis of the ideas, which come to be dominant within society, it is this, which is the real social revolution.

In Marx’s time the ability of the workers to achieve this was limited because of the low level of wages, and of education, though clearly not impossible as the number of co-operatives established during his time demonstrated, and indeed as the number of capitalists like Wedgwood who had themselves been workers also demonstrated. In the developed economies of today the process is much easier in some respects much more difficult in others. It is more difficult for the simple reason that capitalism is now a truly global economic system, and the amount of Capital required to produce many commodities is now incomparably higher than in Marx’s time. Yet it is easier because not only are workers themselves overall the possessors of individual savings, but also collectively through their pension funds, they are the owners of a large amount of Capital. In Britain around 500 billion pounds worth.

The individual worker with a few shares, that the bourgeois always pointed to as being the victim of “socialist” nationalisation, never could have any power compared to the wealth and power of the capitalists. Indeed, compared to the wealth of the very top few thousand capitalists even the funds available in workers pension funds are small. But that relative weight does not take away from the actual potentiality of these funds for workers, particularly as these funds are collectively owned rather than individually owned, and thereby enable collective decision making over their use. To simply write off this Capital because of its relative weight compared to that of the major capitalists would be to make the same mistake in relation to wages that Marx criticised in the Lassalleans.

“It is as if, among slaves who have at last got behind the secret of slavery and broken out in rebellion, a slave still in thrall to obsolete notions were to inscribe on the program of the rebellion: Slavery must be abolished because the feeding of slaves in the system of slavery cannot exceed a certain low maximum!”

500 billion pounds is sufficient to buy up 100% at least the bottom 50 of the FTSE 100 companies. In reality the figure is much larger than that, and with the use of leverage, the need only to buy up around 30% of shares for a controlling stake, and the utilisation of credit, these workers pension funds could buy up and place directly in the hands of workers a large part of the most important sections of British industry. The same is true of Western Europe, and to a lesser extent the US. The condition is that workers gain the fundamental democratic right to have collective control over their own money tied up in these pension funds. Were workers to not rely on the capitalist state for their pensions, and instead to be able to pay their National Insurance contributions into their own pension funds, democratically and collectively controlled by them, the funds available would be far greater still.

Within what is still supposed to be part of the Labour Movement there is more than 100 years experience of Co-operative forms in the Co-op, and even within the realms of finance through the Co-op Bank and Co-operative Insurance Services, and through Unity Trust. Even within the private banks and financial institutions it is workers that on a daily basis do the work of financial transactions. There is no shortage of skill and expertise within the working class to run such businesses efficiently. Indeed, when it is the workers that own and control such businesses themselves they will run them far more efficiently than their present private capitalist bosses do.

Such is the power of the working class today to effect almost overnight, and by entirely peaceful and legal means its own emancipation. Of course, though this method itself provides the basis of such a legal and peaceful transformation that is no reason to beleive that the capitalists will not try to frustrate such a process. As marx described the co-oepratives of the 19th century faced much higher rates of interest on their Credit than did private capitalists. Were Co-operatives to attempt to replace competition between them with co-operation the existing reactionary laws of capitalist states in relation to monopolies would be used against them, and so on. The bourgeoisie faced similar obstacles palced in its path by the feudal rulers. But finding ways around such obstacles, promoting a Workers Party as the political representative of the class to wage a political struggle against such laws etc. is part and parcel of that long class struggle that Marx describes. Ultimately, if it felt that it was going to be removed from history even by such peaceful and legal means the capitalist class would resort to violence to save its own priviliges. It then becomes necessaary just as the bouregoisie was forced to do when the feudal aristocracy made a similar attempt to cling to power, for the working class to put down such a slaveholders revolt, and establish its own state and politial rule.

Under such conditions to call for the capitalist state to nationalise property is in effect to call for that capitalist state to confiscate what is theoretically already in large part workers property. It is a reactionary demand on so many levels.

No to calls for nationalisation by the capitalist state. Yes to workers ownership and management. For the basic democratic demand that workers have control of their money in their pension funds.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

McCann's Friend CERTAIN of What She Saw

In an interview with Panorama, clips of which were shown on the News yesterday, a friend of the McCanns, Jane Tanner, says that she is certain that she saw Madeleine being abducted - see Panorama. This surely raises more questions than answers.

My first response to the story was, "If I saw my friend's child being abducted, I would try to prevent it. I would at least shout to the abductor to stop, chase after them, raise an alram, see where they went, take down the deatils of any car they went to etc." My second response was, "How come she is still the McCanns friend? If my friend watched my child being abducted and did nothing about it, I don't think I would consider them a friend any longer."

But reading the small blurb on the web site above - we'll have to wait for the programme for the full details - it becomes clear that Ms Tanner was not certain at the time she saw a man walking down the road that the child they were carrying was Madeleine. Its only later that this certainty has arisen!

Anyone that has seen the film "My Cousin Vinny", will be aware of a similar scenario. Two boys are accused of a robbery and murder at a petrol station. There is circumstantial evidence pointing to them, and thinking they were being pulled over for something else have already admitted guilt. Finding themselves facing the Chair if convicted they call in one of the boys cousins to defend them, who turns out to be an extremely inept lawyer. A variety of witnesses take the stand to say they were CERTAIN they saw the boys, and postively identify the boys green car at the scene. Fortunately, for the boys Vinny's girlfriend grew up working in her father's garage and is an expert mechanic. From a photograph of the tyre marks left by the car used by the actual robbers she is able to prove for definite that the real car used in the robbery was not the boys.

Of course, none of the witnesses that took the stand under oath gave false witness out of any malice they were certain that what they had seen was the boys car. They had convinced themselves of that after the fact because it seemed to fit. But they were wrong! Had one of these witnesses AT THE TIME have made a note not just of the fact that there was a green car, but had made a note of the make, registration number etc. then that would have been certainty. But humans do it all the time our minds cause us to fit facts to what we think fits.

The only way that Ms. Tanner could actually be certain of what she saw would be if she had made a positive identification of Madeleine at the time she saw someone walking down the street with a young child. But had that been the case then my first set of questions above apply. Why not stop the abduction, why not intervene?

But if what we have is a situation similar to that in Cousin Vinny being convinced after the fact that you have seen something based on some other details why come to THIS particular conclusion? When I am on holiday I see lots of adults carrying young children at all hours of the day. It never occurs to me that there is anything out of the order with that, let alone that someone is being abducted. If I saw someone walking down the street with a young child in their arms, particularly if the child did not appear to be resisting the person etc. I would assume it was that person's child. If it was nine or ten o'clock at night and they were walking away from a restaurant in particular I would assumne that probably like most people on holiday with their children that they had been with their child to eat, and the child was tired.

I can understand that had a friend of mine's child disappeared, and my friend said the child must have been abducted, that despite the fact that abductions of children by strangers are very, very rare in this country let alone in Portugal, I would want to beleive them, but that still would not cause me to jump from that to beleivng that what I had seen was the actual abduction, especially as at the time I had no cause to beleive that, and especially as the least likely explaantion of someone walking down a street in Portugal or anywhere else with a young child in their arms is that they have abducted the child. After all as I said abductions of children by strangers are exceptionally rare so why beleive that this man was abducting a child, let alone a particular child rather than the more likely case that this was just someone on holiday - after all there were lots of other people on holiday with their children it was a holiday resort after all - with their child???

The final question is, the police must realise all the above, so must any experienced investigative journalist, so why make such a big thing about such evidence? Audience figures perhaps as with previous examples of moral panic.