Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Cuts Who Benefits?

The Commune have a Public Meeting on 3rd November in Sheffield, on the subject - "Welfare Capitalism And The Cuts"

The questions they are posing are important.

1 Are the cuts an economic necessity?

2 Will the cuts smash or restructure the Welfare state?

3 Do we simply defend the welfare state?

4 Can trade unions defend jobs and services?

They are questions I have addressed here, and in comments at the Commune, at AVPS,
and at The Weekly Worker, amongst other places.

My simple answers to these questions would be.

1. No, the cuts are not an economic necessity, as I've outlined here. In fact, a look at Ireland shows that the consequence of the Cuts is likely to be to reverse the economic growth that had begun, send the economy into a sharp recession, and to undermine the very basis for being able to pay down the debt.
The fact, that similar policies are being adopted by other Governments, and could be adopted in the US, if the Republicans, under pressure from the Tea Partiers, win the elections next month, I think signify that, along with this sharp recession, will come a serious and brutal restructuring of Capital. That restructuring would take place anyway, but would have been more drawn out. I am in the process of producing a blog that will elaborate on this.

2. Every developed Capitalist economy developed a Welfare State, during the 20th Century. I've referred to Engels argument that by the latter part of the 19th Century, Big Capital had adopted the programme of Social Democracy.

Its strategy revolved around the idea of a social democratic consensus, of social justice and all that entailed. It gave workers the vote, it introduced legislation on Health & Safety, and on working hours. It embraced Trades Unions as a channel for transmitting its own ideas about social harmony into the working class. In part, as Engels says, these measures reflected the fact that this Big Capital had surpassed the days when it made profits by means of screwing every last minute out of the workers - Absolute Surplus Value - in favour of the more effective means of Relative Surplus Value - reducing the Value of Labour Power by cheapening wage goods. But, in part, as he says, this increased role for the State, and introduction of these rights for workers, also worked to its advantage, as against its smaller competitors, who still relied on the old penny pinching forms of exploitation.

At the end of the 19th Century/beginning of the Twentieth Century, workers had developed a series of their own organisations, besides the Trades Unions. They had Friendly Societies, in which they accrued funds to provide for unemployment, sickness and old age.
They had Retail Co-operative Societies that had grown to dominate the retail sector for provision of workers basic needs, and which had also established its own Wholesale Society, as well as a range of production to supply them. The Co-op also provided, Education, and Welfare Benefits for its workers and members. Workers also organised their own adult education via the Plebs League and the National Council of Labour Colleges, which it opposed to the WEA set up by the bourgeoisie to try to impose bourgeois ideas on workers.

It was no surprise that Capital responded to independent workers organisations by using the power of the State to impose its own provision on workers, and to undermine the independent workers provision. The Liberals introduced National Insurance which soaked up workers funds with the promise of a State Pension.
In the 1920's the Tory Neville Chamberlain introduced further welfare reforms to protect the poor and provide a social safety net, and essentially laid the basis for the Welfare State. The Liberal Beveridge codified all of that, which was introduced by the post-war Labour Government.

Modern capitalism needs a healthy and well educated working-class. It needs to ensure that workers devote sufficient funds to buying those commodities to that end. State Education, and a State run Health System ensure that workers get, and pay for, the level of Education and Healthcare that Capital deems necessary at any particular time.

Capital has every incentive to try to ensure that the provision of these commodities, and the others provided by the Welfare State, are provided as efficiently as possible - around 40% of workers wages go in "taxes" of one form or another to purchase these commodities - they form a significant component of the Value of Labour Power, so Capital wants to reduce that cost as much as possible. But, it does not want to reduce the cost at the expense of quality. Cheaply, but poorly, educated and repaired workers are of no more use to Capital than shoddily produced materials or machines. The European model of socialised provision appears to be the best solution Capital has come up with. It combines a State Run Insurance Scheme with actual provision, of Healthcare at least, by large private companies who compete to drive down costs and raise quality. France, which is generally considered to have perhaps the best healthcare system in the world, is an example of that.
The idea that Capital would move to this kind of model was theorised back in the 1970's by Aglietta in "A Theory of Capitalist Regulation:The US Experience" (1979) where he describes the moves in Europe, which he describes as Neo-Fordism.

I have also referred to the way Big Capital, in the US, is looking to the State to intervene to lift some of these burdens from its back and transfer them to the State. It is consistent with the general practice of Neo-Liberalism of socialising costs, and privatising profits, what has been termed "Socialism For the Rich". In a 2005 article in the US "Fortune" Magazine, Matt Miller wrote,

“But seen in this context, the prescription-drug bill last year was the first step in the Republican-led socialization of health spending. Companies have been clobbered funding retiree health plans. The GOP felt their pain, and presto, $750 billion over ten years moved from private to public budgets...

The bigger hurdle may be stereotypes. Business's sensible drive to get Uncle Sam to take on more of the health burden will run into the nihilistic (but potent) "big government" rhetoric of the GOP--plus the party's delusion that we can keep federal taxes at 17% to 18% of GDP as the boomers retire. If Republican pols want to help Republican CEOs solve their biggest problems, this caricature of a political philosophy will have to give way to something more grown-up. Just as the Nixon-to-China theory of history says it will ultimately take a Democratic President to fix Social Security, it may take a Republican President to bless the socialization of health spending we need. ..Ask yourself: When we're on the cusp of decades of wrenching challenges from places like China and India, doesn't American business have enough to do without managing health care too?”


So, the answer is that Capital, having spent so much time and effort constructing the Welfare State, has no desire to scrap it, but it will be restructured where greater efficiency can be obtained.

3. The answer, to point 3, should be obvious from what I have said. Of course, we have to defend what we have in so far as it comprises part of workers living standards. But, what we defend is the idea that there are certain things such as Education, Healthcare, Social Care etc., which should be provided by society, and, as far as possible, should be made available on the basis of need not on the ability to pay.
But, Marx always made clear his distinction between "Society" and "The State". When he spoke about "Society" in these terms he was talking about the working class acting collectively to make its own provision.

The Capitalist State is huge, and these aspects of it are equally huge. It would be Utopian, to believe that workers could immediately establish their own alternatives to such provision. There are examples of workers coming together to create schools, under their ownership and control, and the Co-op itself is entering this arena. There are even examples of hospitals being taken over by their workers. But, isolated pockets of worker ownership are likely to suffer from diseconomies of scale, and be subject to all the pressures of operating within a Capitalist environment. The answer to the question is no, we should not simply defend the Welfare State. We should demand that, at the very least, it be made open and democratic, by real workers and users control. But, the Labour Movement, in particular the Trades Unions and the Co-op should combine, to use the power and expertise of both wings, to develop a strategy to bring as much as possible under the direct ownership and control of workers and users, because that is the only way of ensuring that real control can be exercised, and the interference of the State can be minimised.

4. It is clear that Trades Unions can defend jobs and services, but only within limits. The experience of UCS is important here, as I set out in my blog, The Lessons Of UCS. The workers work-in succeeded in stopping the closure. But, by handing the yard to the bosses state, the workers ultimately lost.
The State rationalised, and the workers exchanged exploitation by Private Capital for exploitation by an even more powerful State Capital. Even at a Trade Union level, the jobs saved came at the cost of thousands of jobs lost elsewhere in the industry. It is the same lesson as that of workers in France, in May '68, who, were demobilised, having taking over their factories. As Marx demonstrates, ultimately, as long as workers remained trapped within the Capital-Labour relation, Capital will win such struggles. In the 1960's and 70's printworkers resisted the attempts of management to impose new working practices. In the end, in the 1980's, new bosses, like Eddie Shah, came along, armed with brand new technology that did away with the need of the skills of the skilled print workers, undermined the basis of their strength, and, by setting up on new sites, were able to recruit non-unionised, unskilled labour.

In the Public Sector, things are more complicated. On the one hand, the Public Sector is where the vast bulk of union members exist, and it has strength from that. But, in some ways, Public Sector workers have become like a new Aristocracy of Labour, and the divisions that creates, within the working-class, can be exploited by Capital. Moreover, as Greece and Spain has demonstrated, at a time when the State is looking to reduce its expenditure on Public Services, and on wages, it is not clear that strikes do anything other than play into the hands of the bosses, which saves money as a result of those strikes. As Engels put it,

"and thus a new spirit came over the masters, especially the large ones, which taught them to avoid unnecessary squabbles, to acquiesce in the existence and power of Trades’ Unions, and finally even to discover in strikes — at opportune times — a powerful means to serve their own ends."

If we are to win, we have to develop more intelligent tactics and strategies than just strikes and "more militancy". The TU bureaucrats are happy to pursue such a strategy, because it is consistent with emphasising their role as negotiators and middle men. It keeps the struggle wholly within the bounds of bourgeois ideology, with no threat to the sanctity of Capitalist property. Most of the sectarian Left is happy to follow such a course too, because they have no other immediate solutions to offer, and they hope, by involving themselves in such strikes, to incrementally build their organisations. But, Marxists have a duty to go beyond the narrow concerns of the sects, to offer workers immediate practical solutions, which at the same time take care of the interests of the movement in the future, as the Communist Manifesto describes it. That means that Public Sector workers, in the unions, have to link up with the wider working-class, and, instead of allowing the struggle to be confined to one about simply protecting jobs and services, transforms it into a struggle also about the nature of those services, and who should own and control them.

The lesson of UCS was that, in not just occupying, but also reducing the Capital that previously dominated them, back to its rightful status, as mere tools, and means of production, the workers stepped outside the Capital-Labour relation, they broke the hold of Capital over them, and challenged the sanctity of private property, private property which they, and other workers, had actually created, but which was used against them. Instead of strikes, we need to build the greatest unity between public Sector Workers and Service Users. Rather than strikes, to deny users of their services, we need occupations, and work-ins, to ensure and demand that services continue to be provided. And having shown, in practice, that workers, themselves, can provide these services efficiently, without the need for private or state bosses, we should demand that the reality be stamped with legality, that the workers ownership and control of these services be formally recognised by the State.


Jacob Richter said...

"That means that Public Sector workers, in the unions, have to link up with the wider working-class, and, instead of allowing the struggle to be confined to one about simply protecting jobs and services"

Only the state can provide universal collective bargaining on a free-access basis. Considering the logistical difficulties and tred-iunion cowardice in organizing retail and fast food workers, for example, any "immediate solution" doesn't lie within the economistic "self-help" of union work, but in state aid, which forces political action.

Boffy said...

Economism is where workers confine their horizons to simply bargaining for improvements within the system. There is nothing "Economistic" about workers attempting to change property relations, in breaking the Capital-Labour relation.

Making demands for the Capitalist State to act on workers behalf, however, IS "Economism", precisely because the Capitalist State is a fundamental aspect of the Capital-Labour relation. Not only as State Capital does it act like any other Capital - but is more powerful and monopolistic - but its fundamental role is to ensure the conditions for the reproduction of Labour-Power as labour-power.

There is a huge difference between workers engaging in political struggles, which remain within the system, but which are necessary for workers to increase their ability to exercise their own independence e.g. Marxists are not indifferent as to whether workers are hampered in organising by anti-trasde union laws, are prevented from expressing themselves by the prevention of free speech, or even in respect of General Conditions such as the length of the working day, without which workers are left with no time of their own to organise, or educate themselves in order to develop independently, and placing demands on that state to effectively substitute for the workers own independent organisation and action.

I realise that you openly defend Lassalle as against Marx, and at least that is honest as against those "Marxists" who in effect have practiced and preached the politics of Lassalle in Marx's name. But, the reality is that the politics of Lassalle have been the base of the programme and strategy of both revoluitonary and reformist socialists for the last 100 years plus. They have been singularly unsuccesful in taking the working class forward one jot, whilst they have embedded in the consciousness of workers precisely the kind of nonsense you argue here that workers are incapable of organising society themselves without the benevelonce of the Capitalist State. If that were true we should all just abandon the idea of Socialism now.

Jacob Richter said...

First paragraph: yes it is economistic. It's the distinction between narrow economism and broad economism. Isolated "struggles for socialism" are economic and not political.

Second paragraph: no it isn't economistic. It is designed to break any illusions workers have in the statist reforms. Whereas Ferdinand Lassalle had illusions, neither Jules "I am a Marxist" Guesde nor Crane "Anatomy of Revolution" Brinton had them.

There is cynicism behind the demand

"The wholesale absorption of all private-sector collective bargaining representation into free and universal legal services by independent government agencies acting in good faith and subjecting their employees to full-time compensation being at or slightly lower than the median equivalent for professional and other skilled workers"

Specifically "in good faith."

BTW, regarding more "self-help" initiative, do you have any thoughts on my new commentary on Sociopolitical Syndicalism as an alternative to yellow and orange unions as well as traditional red unionism/syndicalism? I contrasted the IWW with the Greek Communist union and stressed the need to go beyond both examples of red unionism/syndicalism.

Comrade, I think you're stretching things by saying "the benevolence of the capitalist state," when Alternative Culture is posed as an alternative to the welfare state. I just don't go your distance re. for-profit cooperatives.

Boffy said...

The struggle for Socialism is by definition a "political" struggle whether isolated or not. The Bolshevik Revolution was isolated but highly political. It is those struggles which are framed as being for "Socialism", for example Municipal Socialism or Parliamentary Socialism, which can be as broad and unisolated as you like, which are "Economistic", precisely because in remaining within the confines of the Capital-Labour relation, limit the actual struggle to only "improving" the relative position of workers - but which as Marx and Engels point out never actually even achieve that over and above what Capital Accumulation and competition between bosses would have brought about.

Workers have had 100 years of experience of the capitalist State. If the strategy of making demands upon it so that workers could shed their illusions in it were likely to have succeeded, I think its fair to say that workers would have shed them by now. To an extent they have. That is why large numbers of them support privatisation as an alternative to what they have experienced as highly bureaucratic, inefficient and oppressive State run services. That is why "socialists" who continue to try to ram down the workers throats state solutions get short shrift, and why right-wing poulism is on the rise.

Marxists have to provide workers with a practical solution to their problems, which is an immediate alternative to both State and Private Capital.

On Trades Unions, I follow Marx and Engels. I do not see them as having the centrality that most modern Marxists do - and whose position is largely determined by their own self-interest in seeing them as happy hunting grounds for new members. Workers have to change property relations by establishing Co-ops. They have to establish new democratic forms alongside them, which will have all the embryonic elements of an alternative State, and they have do develop the Workers Party in order to wage the kind of political struggle that will be necessaary to legalise what they have achieved, to resist the political games of the bosses within the realms of bouregois democracy etc. The function of the Trades Unions is to act as rallying centres for workers to form up to create these alternative power structures, and to provide support for them from within the industrial sphere. The link up of the USW with the Mondragon Co-ops is significant in that respect.

Your demand for "State Aid" from the Capitalist State IS a demand for its benevolence. Like the katheder socialists it is a plea for workers to see the State as class neutral, and a force by which they may achieve progress.

Jacob Richter said...

[Sorry if my blogging response style is that of responding on the basis of the previous poster's paragraphs]

Re. first paragraph: You're confusing "socialism" with "workers power." The latter is for much of the political structure of the Paris Commune, for demarchy, for sovereign socioeconomic governments, etc. By "isolated struggles for socialism," I also include the USW-Mondragon deal, which too is, to quote yourself, "within the confines of the Capital-Labour relation."

Re. second paragraph:

"To an extent they have. That is why large numbers of them support privatisation as an alternative to what they have experienced as highly bureaucratic, inefficient and oppressive State run services. That is why 'socialists' who continue to try to ram down the workers throats state solutions get short shrift, and why right-wing populism is on the rise."

The same people who support privatization still see the state as class neutral between capitalists and themselves, or more likely see it as its own class ("the political class" and "the parasitic class" of the Friedmanites and Austrians come to mind). They buy into media hypes of "there's no such as class." The right-wing populism you speak of actually envisions a lot of economic statism. Just look at the economic platform of Jobbik in Hungary, or the economic platform of the BNP.

Re. third paragraph: "free and legal universal service" on collective bargaining allows the more radical trade unions to, ahem, "outsource" that burdensome collective bargaining function, and thereby focus on being like the All-Workers Militant Front (the Greek Communist union). It also means redundancy for the yellow unions and their practical absorption into the capitalist state's Labour Relations apparatus (labour courts, labour boards, etc.).

Re. fourth paragraph: So you have no comments on Sociopolitical Syndicalism, then?

Boffy said...

1. No I'm using Marx's definition of Socialism. As Marx points out in the Grundrisse once workers own their means of production, they cease to be Labour as "Non-Capital", just as the Capital which formerly confronted them as means of production ceases to be Capital as "Non-Labour". It steps outside the Capital-Labour relation. It is not Socialism, but it is a necessary part of the struggle for it.

Of course, such workers will still confront Capital in so far as they continue to operate in a Capitalist Market. But, so would workers in A Workers State in the context of a globalised Capitalist economy. Unless, you want to pose the idea of Socialism arising as an immediate rupture with Capitalism then such a transition is inevitable.

2. If after a century of the Welfare State and even longer experience of the Capitalist State standing against them the majority of workers see the Capitalist State as Class Neutral, I would suggest that demonstrates the absurdity of your approach of asking those workers to make demands of that State in the hope that the scales will fall from their eyes. How much longer do you think they need to experience the class nature of the State for them to lose these illusions? yet another century, two? Isn't the logical thing for workers to conclude when socialists ask them to place their faith in that State that it IS class neutral - that was certainly Lenin's arguments against the Narodniks who made that argument. Is it any surprise that workers conclude that, and have shown some faith in the State over the NHS, for example, because having placed demands on the bosses' State, the State did what was asked, precisely because not only could it accommodate those demands, but they fitted its own needs!

3.If you really beleive what you say in 2. then like the Eurocomms who found themselves arguing for support for State controlled Prices and Incomes policies,you should also call on the State to act as impartial arbiter in industrial disputes. How better could workers be exposed to its real class nature?

4. No.

Jacob Richter said...

Re. first paragraph: Marx said something about cooperative situations being ones where workers become the collective capitalists.

I prefer a rapid transition within workers power from hiring labour for small-business profit to *planned* cooperative production. In the current environment, coops would have to compete against each other.

The workers state in the context of a globalized capitalist economy is now a nationalistic illusion. "Internationalism" is also now a bankrupt concept. Workers need to organize now on the basis of Transnationalism and Pan-Nationalism (a European Pan-Nation that can integrate immigrants well, for example). For the former, look up the ultra-partyist left-com Amadeo Bordiga. The latter is too much of a hot potato to discuss here.

Re. third paragraph:

I'm pretty sure you still receive updates of my work. If you look up the updated commentary on Cooperative Production, you'll find that the kind of "self-help" you and the Mondragon honchos are advocating is too similar to Schulze-Delitzsch.

At that time, most of the German workers still accepted the views and the political leadership of the liberal bourgeoisie which, denominating itself the Progressive Party (Fortschrittspartei) was then carrying on a struggle with the Prussian Government to secure the franchise. At the same time the Government, of which Bismarck, the reactionary junker, was the chief, was endeavouring to win the support of the workers and to use them as tools in its contest with the bourgeois liberals.

The very few circles then extant for the promotion of the political education of the workers were dragged along in the wake of bourgeois liberalism. In the economic field, bourgeois propagandists urged proletarians to practise “self-help” and “thrift,” declaring that this was the only way of improving the workers’ lot. The chief exponent of this sort of humbug was Schulze-Delitzsch, a Prussian official, founder of co-operative associations and a people’s bank – a Prussian counterpart of the French bourgeois economist, Bastiat.

In their attempts to secure independence of thought, the German workers had to free themselves from the influence both of conservative demagogy and of liberal sophistry. A notable part in the liberation of the German proletariat from bourgeois influence in political matters was played by Ferdinand Lassalle, who was instrumental in founding the first independent working-class political organisation in Germany. This was known as the General Union of German Workers (Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein – A.D.A.V.) and it came into being on May 23, 1853. The aim of the Association was to conduct a “peaceful and legal” agitation on behalf of manhood suffrage. This, Lassalle thought, would lead to extensive working-class representation in parliament, and eventually to the passing of a number of desirable laws. One of these would be a law for the State aid of productive associations, whereby the workers would be freed from the tyranny of capital.

Lassalle was unable to fulfil his hopes for the speedy creation of a mass party of the workers. In the autumn of 1864, the membership was 4,600, and by the end of November, 1865, it was no more than 9,420, when the Association comprised fifty-eight branches. But his brief and stormy agitation had the effect, in large measure of freeing the German workers from the dominion of liberal bourgeois ideas.

Jacob Richter said...


Re. your last paragraph:

"The wholesale absorption of all private-sector collective bargaining representation into free and universal legal services by independent government agencies acting in good faith and subjecting their employees to full-time compensation being at or slightly lower than the median equivalent for professional and other skilled workers"

Maybe my business law is a bit rusty here, but what's the difference between my proposal and the "impartial arbiter" / labour courts thing, other than the fact that my proposal still allows strikes (i.e., red unions not accepting the decision of the "good faith" body that has substituted for the yellow trade union bureaucratic fat cats functioning as de facto mediators between the rank-and-file and the bosses)?

Boffy said...

1. Marx did say that. Its an essential component of his dialectical method. Nothing ruptures in the way you want. Quantity transforms into quality. Its the same reason he argues that in the first stage of Socialism, bourgeois Right continues. Choices have to be made, and the attempt to treat everyone equally means inequality persists, because individuals are not equal. It is the reason he says that the State will be a Bourgeois State with the bourgeoisie, because it will have to enforce that bourgeois Right.

2. In reality there can be no sharp transition to “planned” Co-operative production. No Marxist has believed that is possible. It will be possible to establish some kind of general outline plan of National priorities, but the idea that the whole economy could be quickly planned is Utopian. Such planning can only develop organically as a result of workers within Co-operatives making their own human connections, and integrating their own individual plans. The attempt to do otherwise to impose some kind of plan from above will result in some form of Stalinism.

3. Yes, workers should organise across borders. But, having done so, if workers in France occupy the factories, establish Workers Councils, and seize State Power, what do you propose to do? Will you like the SPGB did with the Bolsheviks, denounce them for not fitting in with your schema?

4. The proposals I put forward have nothing to do with either Schultze-Deilitsch or Lassalle in relation to Co-operatives. The programme I advance is that put forward for Co-ops by Marx, Engels and the First International. Yes, you are right Liberals in Germany did try to advocate Co-ops as a means of diverting workers from class struggle, and promoting individualism. That led many German socialists to reject the idea of Co-ops. Kautsky set out why that was wrong, and why German workers had not been diverted by the Liberals. Engels could not be clearer. Bracke had “demonstrated the sheer futility of that demand”, for state aid, “all if not all, of our party speakers have, in their struggle against the Lassalleans, been compelled to make a stand against this "state aid"!”, and by advocating it the Party could “hardly demean itself further”. It was not a socialist demand, but the demand of “the bourgeois republican Buchez, who confronted the socialists with this demand in order to supplant them!” Engels

Engels argument for workers to take over existing production is set out in his second letter here.

5. You identify Bismark as a reactionary Junker. Subjectively, that is correct, but objectively, as with Louis Bonaparte his role was historically progressive, because it brought about the industrialisation that was necessary to create a modern economy, and a modern working-class. Its similar to the point Trotsky makes about other Bonapartists such as Cardenas in Mexico. But, of course, in your rush to act as cheerleader for Lassalle you fail to point out that far from freeing the german workers his plan, as would be the case with yours, was one of what today we would probably call Corporatism. It subordinated working-class action to his alliance with Bismark. As Marx said of him, he was the model for the future Workers Dictator. Draper.

6. No difference at all, that's the problem. The existence of ACAS in Britain has done nothing to dissuade workers from the view of the State as a neutral arbiter, nor the existence of Industrial Tribunals. On the contrary, it has acted to demobilise spontaneous working-class activity. That's why I think your idea that the State can be used progressively is a bit loopy, and why I think your fall back that to the extent it doesn't workers will take action against it has no empirical justification.

Jacob Richter said...

Re. your first paragraph:

Note Proyect's remarks about fascism and its relationship with cooperatives.

Re. your second paragraph:

Do you consider something like the Meidner wage-earner funds plan spanning 25-30 years as a "sharp transition"? I'd place a 20-year limit on transitions and especially class struggle against small businesses and the self-employed, otherwise one is sinking into Bernsteinism.

Re. your third paragraph:

You mean spontaneous wildcat strikes without organizing along SPD lines? I stated my case against May 1968 in my Alternative Culture commentary, and any repeat of May 1968 should be "I told you so" condemned... but ONLY after an inevitable (and rapid) collapse.

Re. your fourth paragraph:

Sorry for not being clear, but I was quoting Yuri Steklov on his First International work, not using my own words.

Despite Bracke's denunciation, why did these demands end up in the Erfurt Program?

Free medical care, including midwifery and medicines.

Takeover by the Reich government of the entire system of workers’ insurance, with decisive participation by the workers in its administration.

Re. your fifth paragraph:

Again I was quoting, not my own words. Please do read my commentary on "People's Histories" for my own personal opinion on Bismarck and "Bonapartists," though.

Re. your final paragraph:

Why do you still provide cover for yellow trade union bureaucratic fat cats?

Boffy said...


I find your comments increasingly bizarre. I also find your cryptic sentences such as "Why do you still provide cover for yellow trade union bureaucratic fat cats?" unhelpful, and impossible to respond to.

A similar thing is true about your comment about fascism and Co-operatives. This seems to me nothing other than the good old fashioned Stalinist amalgam. Rather than provide an argument simply pick your favourite hate figure, and connect your target with it by any irrational means.

Your attempt to place your own timescale for the transition to Socialism is precisely the kind of schema mongering that Marx opposed and criticised the Petit-bouregois socialists for. What will you do if history has the temerity not to conform with your timescale?

Lenin argued that NEP might well have to last for 25 years, and that was AFTER the seizure of State power. He spoke about it taking an entire epoch or two generations for the cultural change in Russian workers and peasants to take place. Reformism does not lie in the idea that the transition to Socialism will take a period of struggle, but in the idea that struggle within the system without actually changing property relations is enough. I'm afraid it is your model that is closer to that than mine.

As for your comments about a struggle against small capital and the self-employed, that is just bizarre. They are the workers allies in this struggle against Big Capital! No serious person beleives that Socialism would be about nationalising the corner shop!!!!!

No I don't mean a repeat of 1968, I mean a repeat of 1917. Unlikely, I beleive, and almsot certain to result in a form of Stalinism, but still surely the job of Marxists to support.

The demands ended up in the programme, because as Draper says, the SPD was more influenced by Lassalle and the Fabians than by Marx. And the consequence of Workers participation was demonstrated by Trotsky in his article on Workers Control where he wrote,

"Thus the regime of workers’ control, a provisional transitional regime by its very essence, can correspond only to the period of the convulsing of the bourgeois state, the proletarian offensive, and the falling back of the bourgeoisie, that is, to the period of the proletarian revolution in the fullest sense of the word."and,

"If the participation of the workers in the management of production is to be lasting, stable, “normal,” it must rest upon class collaboration, and not upon class struggle. Such a class collaboration can be realized only through the upper strata of the trade unions and the capitalist associations. There have been not a few such experiments: in Germany (“economic democracy”), in Britain (“Mondism”), etc. Yet, in all these instances, it was not a case of workers’ control over capital, but of the subserviency of the labor bureaucracy to capital. Such subserviency, as experience shows, can last for a long time: depending on the patience of the proletariat."

Jacob Richter said...

"I find your comments increasingly bizarre. I also find your cryptic sentences such as "Why do you still provide cover for yellow trade union bureaucratic fat cats?" unhelpful, and impossible to respond to."

Sometimes I lose my cool. I think what we should agree on is that our respective positions each have the problem of slippery slopes: excesses in "state aid" vs. excesses in "self-help."

That fascism commentary was Proyect's, not mine. I simply pointed it out as reference to at least non-hostility towards cooperative projects by fascist governments.

Turning to the part about class allies, the only class ally I see for productive and unproductive workers is the class of mid-level managers (which also includes tenured profs).