Models of public ownership

I have just attended a special conference called by the British Labour Party to discuss models of public ownership.  The aim of the conference was to develop ideas on how a Labour government can build the public sector if it came into office at the next general election.

The centrepiece of the conference was a report commissioned by the Labour leadership and published last autumn called Alternative Models of Ownership (with the word ‘public’ strangely omitted).

Labour’s finance spokesman, John McDonnell (and ‘self-confessed’ Marxist) presented the key ideas in the report which had been compiled by a range of academic experts, including Andrew Cumbers of Glasgow University, who has written extensively on the issue of public ownership.  And Cat Hobbs of Weownit gave a compelling account of  the failures and waste of past privatisations.

In many ways, McDonnell’s speech was inspiring in that the next Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn and McDonnell  is genuinely dedicated to restoring properly-funded and resourced public services and reversing past privatisations of key economic sectors made by previous Conservative and Labour governments in the neoliberal period of the 30 years before the Great Recession.

McDonnell and the report emphasised a range of models for future publicly owned assets and services: from cooperatives, municipal services and the nationalisation of key sectors like health, education and utilities like water, energy and transport – the so-called ‘natural monopolies’.

As the report makes abundantly clear, the privatisations of the last 30 years have clearly failed even in their own professed objectives: more efficiency and higher productivity, more competition and greater equality.  It has been the complete opposite.  UK productivity growth has slumped, and, as many studies have shown (see my recent post), privatised industries have not been more efficient at all.

They have merely been entities designed to make a quick profit for shareholders at the expense of investment, customer services and workers’ conditions (pensions, wages and workload).  Indeed, the theme of privatised water, energy, rail and post in the UK has been ‘short-termism’ ie boost share prices, pay executives big bonuses and pay out huge dividends instead of investing for the long-term in a social plan for all.

State-owned industry is actually a successful economic model even in predominantly capitalist economies.  The Labour report cites the fact that the share of state enterprises in the top 500 international companies has risen from 9% in 2005 to 23% in 2015 (although this is mainly the result of the rise of Chinese state companies).  The history of East Asian economies’ success was partly the result of state-directed and owned sectors that modernised, invested and protected against US multinationals (although it was also the availability of cheap labour, suppressed workers’rights and the adoption of foreign technology).

As many authors, such as Mariana Mazzacuto have shown, state funding and research has been vital to development of major capitalist firms.  State owned industry and economic growth often go together – and Labour’s report cites “the seldom-discussed European success story is Austria, which achieved the second highest level of economic growth (after Japan) between 1945 and 1987 with the highest state-owned share of the economy in the OECD.” (Hu Chang).

The report also makes it clear that there should be no return to old models of nationalisation that were adopted after second world war.  They were state industries designed mainly to modernise the economy and provide basic industries to subsidise the capitalist sector.  There was no democracy and no input from workers or even government in the state enterprises and certainly no integration into any wider plan for investment or social need.  This was so-called ‘Morrisonian model’ named after right-wing Labour leader Herbert Morrison, who oversaw the post-war UK nationalisations.

The report cites alternative examples of democratically accountable state enterprise systems. There is the Norwegian Statoil model where one-third of the board is elected by employees; or even more to the point, the immediate post-war French electricity and gas sector where the boards of the state companies were “made up of four appointees from the state, four from technical and expert groups (including two to represent the consumer interest and four trade union representatives.” (B Bliss).

All this was very positive news and it was clear that the audience of Labour Party activists was enthused and ready to implement an “irreversible change towards worker-run public services.”  (McDonnell).  The aim of the Labour leaders is to reverse previous privatisations, end the iniquities of so-called private-public partnership funding; reverse the out-sourcing of public services to private contractors and take the market out of the National Health Service etc.  That is excellent, as is their willingness to consider, not just the faulty idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) as a social alternative to job losses from future automation, but also the much more progressive idea of Universal Basic Services, where public services like health, social care, education, transport and communications are provided free at the point of use – what we economists called ‘public goods’.

However, the issues for me remain the ones that I first raised in considering ‘Corbynomics’ back when Jeremy Corbyn first won the leadership of the Labour Party in 2015.  If public ownership is confined to just the so-called natural monopolies or utilities and is not extended to the banks and financial sector and to key strategic industries (the ‘commanding heights’ of the economy), capitalism will continue to predominate in investment and employment and the law of value and markets will still rule.  Labour’s plan for a state investment bank and state-induced or run investment spending would add about 1-2% to total investment to GDP in the UK.  But the capitalist sector invests nearer 12-15% and would remain dominant through its banks, pharma, aerospace, tech and business service conglomerates.

There was no talk of taking over these sectors at the conference.  That was not even talk of taking over the big five banks – something I have raised before in this blog and helped to write a study, on behalf of the Fire Brigades Union (and which is formally British Trade Union Congress policy).  Without control of finance and the strategic sectors of the British economy, a Labour government will either be frustrated in its attempts to improve the lot of “the many not the few” (Labour’s slogan), or worse, face the impact of another global recession without any protection from the vicissitudes of the market and the law of value.

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64 Responses to “Models of public ownership”

  1. sartesian Says:

    “Self-confessed Marxist”…..? Sure thing. Where would capitalism be without the efforts of the self-confessed Marxists of the last 100 years?

  2. Arthur Says:

    “Alternative Models of Ownership” was a promising title so I tried to read the report.

    A major obstacle to the working class expropriating bourgeois private property is the lack of a clear understanding as to how it would be administered without a new ruling class developing.

    Michael’s post has a clear enough conlusion:

    “Without control of finance and the strategic sectors of the British economy, a Labour government will either be frustrated in its attempts to improve the lot of “the many not the few” (Labour’s slogan), or worse, face the impact of another global recession without any protection from the vicissitudes of the market and the law of value.”

    So I wasn’t surprised that my eyes glazed over as I could not find any explanation of how they were proposing to acquire “ownership”.

    Closest I noticed was on p17 where coops were supposed to get “better access to finance”, at which point I gave up.

    Let’s be clear, finance and the strategic sectors of the (global) economy are indeed decisive. Control of them is essential. Finance is controlled by the owners of the funds invested. It isn’t just a matter of “the banks” and other “financial institutions”. They may get nationalized and internationalized the next time they fall in a heap.

    What matters is OWNERSHIP of the capital these financial institutions invest on behalf of their owners for the purpose of increasing the wealth of those owners. Whoever owns it controls it.

    Without a proposal for expropriation of the current owners there CANNOT be serious “Alternative Models of Ownership”.

    If I missed some discussion of that, please provide the page numbers.

  3. ucanbpolitical Says:

    The Labour Party despite its rhetoric, acts more as an accountant than it does a politician. Our “Marxist” Macdonald always hastens to assure the market that the Labour Party Manifesto is “affordable” and that it has been “fully costed”. So what happens when it is no longer affordable or costed, when the economic conditions do not allow for this. What gives under these circumstances. Well if a century of Labour Party existence is to go by, it will be renationalisations and the funding of services used by workers.

    That does not mean we should simply deride what Macdonald and co are saying, instead we should forcefully intervene in this debate, arguing for Labour to remove the conditionality it places on its plans, namely affordability. Indeed, we need to turn the argument around. We should declare that it is workers who cannot afford a run down NHS or services being robbed by their proprietors etc. etc. That is what makes these demands transitional because it turns the working class into a class for itself, one that ignores the effect its actions have on the capitalist class, which alas, the Labour Party cannot do and will be exposed in time with our help, as cannot do.

  4. Wal Buchenberg Says:

    What makes public ownership different from private ownership? The traditional leftist thinking sees in this the difference between a purpose of production, which is oriented on the commodity value (profit), and another (public) production purpose, which is oriented on use value.
    I think that’s an illusion or a lie.
    Let’s look at the relationship between the working class and the owners of the means of production. In private ownership, workers’ hours are divided into paid work and unpaid work. The work product of unpaid work falls to the private owners.
    In public ownership, workers’ working hours are also divided into paid work and unpaid work. The work product of unpaid work falls to a public manager class.

    This is no longer “privat” capitalism, but it is not socialism either. Above all, the basic ratio remains the same: the wage workers remain wage workers and are exploited. But also the manager class remains bound to the utilization of the value. They produce goods that they sell on the market. All the laws of capitalism remain in principle. Did not we already have that?
    In present England and in present Germany the worker class can study the difference between public and privat ownership, because we actually have both of them. The working condition (wage, working hours etc) show little difference.
    The best we can say is, that the public ownership offers the worker class an friendlier capitalism.
    That offers onla a small improvment for the working class, but has to be won against the resistance of the hole capitalist class.

    • Edgar Says:

      “What makes public ownership different from private ownership?”

      One thing that springs to mind, and it may be very imperfect given we live under capitalism, but public ownership tends to attempt to deliver based on need, whereas private ownership delivers based on ones ability to pay.

      One is a subversion of the existing system and one isn’t.

      This is why, everything else being equal, the right wing are such opponents of public services.

      Also when public service jobs are contracted out to the private sector they do so with worse terms and conditions, especially when that labour is ‘unskilled’. Which is another difference I have noted, the public sector tends to reduce the gap between ‘skilled’ and ‘unskilled’ and the public sector has less bonus payments for targets and the like. And as the public sector is privatised these bonus or incentive payments increase.

      • Wal Buchenberg Says:

        Thats what I said:
        With public ownership the working class is winning a little bit, the privat owner lose everything.

      • Edgar Says:

        Well it is what you sort of said, maybe, but in a more negative way than i put it!

      • Boffy Says:

        “One thing that springs to mind, and it may be very imperfect given we live under capitalism, but public ownership tends to attempt to deliver based on need, whereas private ownership delivers based on ones ability to pay.”

        It only attempts to deliver on the basis of the needs of capital not of workers! It is after all delivered by the capitalist state whose purpose is to represent the interests of capital not of workers! Its why when the needs of capital dictate, that capitalist state continues to raise the same or higher levels of taxes (which are not really taxes, but a price for the state provided goods and services levied collectively on workers) on workers, but cuts back the level of provision.

        Old age pensions were introduced in Britain at the start of the last century. Workers were conned into paying National Insurance contributions into them (Marx and Engels had advised against workers being conned into such schemes, preferring for the workers to continue to provide their own social insurance via their trades unions, friendly societies and co-ops, as Marx made clear in his Programme for the French Socialist Party, and as Engels made clear in his critique of the Erfurt Programme.

        Engels wrote,

        “8 and 9. Here I want to draw attention to the following: These points demand that the following should be taken over by the state: (1) the bar, (2) medical services, (3) pharmaceutics, dentistry, midwifery, nursing, etc., etc., and later the demand is advanced that workers’ insurance become a state concern. Can all this be entrusted to Mr. von Caprivi? And is it compatible with the rejection of all state socialism, as stated above?”

        Marx and Engels fears of such trusting of the capitalist state were well founded. For decades, all those National Insurance contributions that British workers paid in to cover their pensions simply went into the capitalist state coffers, with the workers having little chance of living long enough ever to see any pension. In the last couple of decades, when they have started to do so, and despite huge rises in labour productivity that should have made it possible to retire earlier, with bigger pensions, workers are now being told that for having the audacity to live longer, they must now retire much later.

        In the 1930’s, when all of those same social insurance contributions the workers had been making to cover such eventualities were most necessary as unemployment soared, the capitalist state instead told them that it was going to slash unemployment benefits.

        A large part of the NHS is run not for the interests of the working-class, which would be better served by a concentration on stopping workers becoming ill in the first place than on expensive medicines to cure them when they have, but is run for the companies that build the hospitals, supply the expensive equipment and medicines, as well as for the interests of the top bureaucrats whose empires are based upon such large scale spending.

        Things like Council Housing in Britain was poor quality, and oppressively and bureaucratically delivered, as well as Council Housing Revenue Accounts being used as a means of subsidising the General Rate Fund, whilst the propaganda was that it was council tenants who were being subsidised by the rate payers. It was why Thatcher found it easy to get council tenants to want to buy their houses, though also clearly assisted by the large bribes given to them to do so.

        As Kautsky put it,

        “If the modern state nationalizes certain industries, it does not do so for the purpose of restricting capitalist exploitation, but for the purpose of protecting the capitalist system and establishing it upon a firmer basis, or for the purpose of itself taking a hand in the exploitation of labour, increasing its own revenues, and thereby reducing the contributions for its own support which it would otherwise have to impose upon the capitalist class. As an exploiter of labour, the state is superior to any private capitalist. Besides the economic power of the capitalists, it can also bring to bear upon the exploited classes the political power which it already wields.

        The state has never carried on the nationalizing of industries further than the interests of the ruling classes demanded, nor will it ever go further than that. So long as the property-holding classes are the ruling ones, the nationalization of industries and capitalist functions will never be carried so far as to injure the capitalists and landlords or to restrict their opportunities for exploiting the proletariat.”

        The British miners in 1984-5 were made well aware of the truth of that statement, but also in every case of nationalisation in Britain, be it by Labour or Tory governments, the immediate action was to recapitalise the industry, and to rationalise the industry through large scale job losses. The job losses inflicted by Thatcher in the 80’s, were smaller than were inflicted in the immediate period following nationalisation, and into the 1960’s, and a similar picture can be seen following the nationalisation of the steel and shipbuilding industries. All those large scale industries were also well known for underpricing their outputs to large scale industrial companies, providing a direct subsidy to them out of the surplus value produced by the workers in the nationalised industries, just as capital gets an effective subsidy from the cheap provision of health and education via the welfare state, which reduces to them the value of labour-power, not to mention the socialising role of that welfare state, the “head-fixing industry” as Schachtman described it, which cons the working-class into the belief that the capitalist state, is somehow class neutral, rather than representing their mortal enemy.

        Our task, as Marx described in The Eighteenth Brumaire is not to be taken in by such nonsense, not to try to simply perfect that state apparatus, including its ideological and welfare arms, but is to smash it, and to raise up in place of it, and in militant opposition to it, our own state forms, and based upon our own forms of workers self-government and self management, resting upon workers democracy.

      • Boffy Says:

        Incidentally, I forget to add that Alan Freeman, in Quantitative Marxism, as I recall showed that in every year since its inception, the British working-class have paid more in taxes and National Insurance contributions than they have collectively received back from it in benefits, pensions and services, showing that it is just another means of capital collectively extracting surplus value from the working-class.

      • Boffy Says:

        Pannakoek had a useful distinction between public ownership and common ownership. He wrote,

        “The acknowledged aim of socialism is to take the means of production out of the hands of the capitalist class and place them into the hands of the workers. This aim is sometimes spoken of as public ownership, sometimes as common ownership of the production apparatus. There is, however, a marked and fundamental difference.

        “Public ownership is the ownership, i.e. the right of disposal, by a public body representing society, by government, state power or some other political body. The persons forming this body, the politicians, officials, leaders, secretaries, managers, are the direct masters of the production apparatus; they direct and regulate the process of production; they command the workers. Common ownership is the right of disposal by the workers themselves; the working class itself — taken in the widest sense of all that partake in really productive work, including employees, farmers, scientists — is direct master of the production apparatus, managing, directing, and regulating the process of production which is, indeed, their common work…

        “As a correction to State-managed production, sometimes workers’ control is demanded. Now, to ask control, supervision, from a superior indicates the submissive mood of helpless objects of exploitation. And then you can control another man’s business; what is your own business you do not want controlled, you do it. Productive work, social production, is the genuine business of the working class. It is the content of their life, their own activity. They themselves can take care if there is no police or State power to keep them off. They have the tools, the machines in their hands, they use and manage them. They do not need masters to command them, nor finances to control the masters.

        Public ownership is the program of “friends” of the workers who for the hard exploitation of private capitalism wish to substitute a milder modernized exploitation. Common ownership is the program of the working class itself, fighting for self liberation….”

    • Arthur Says:

      I broadly agree with the main thrust of this. But a couple of minor points:

      1. Work product of unpaid work (surplus value) does not primarily go to managers either in public or private enterprise. A top layer of management in does effectively have a stake as the effectively functioning capitalist with “incentives” to align their interests with the real owners. This can take the forms of salaries, bonuses, stock options, perks and “connections” (guanxi in China or “blat” in Russia) but is similar in content to “profit of enterprise” (as opposed to rentier profits like interest, dividends and rent). This is relatively small compared with the total surplus value produced by the workforce in public enterprises. More goes into “interest” on debt that “finances” the “capital” of those enterprises, or similar “dividends” when the form is closer to that of private corporations. Difference from the usual situation in private enterprises is that a large part gets transferred to other sectors through output prices below values just as with labor intensive sectors in forming an average rate of profit.

      Thus surplus value produced by publicly employed teachers and health workers helps lower wage costs for employing a more educated and healthy workforce (and provides that more efficiently) than could be done with a less centralized system.

      2. Often “privatization” is actually raising the level of ownership to a more centralized and higher form. In those cases it is really “internationalization” as opposed “de-nationalization” but in the peculiar situation where there is still no global state. For example many “natural monopolies” were originally developed as “municipal” enterprises (sewage, water supply, roads) or as specially legislated corporations (railways) but the actual scale required quickly became national (gas, electricity, highways). These “national” enterprises now have a much larger scale and the level of ownership is shifting to global transnational corporations (eg telecos, aircraft). This is even happening where there is no “natural” monopoly – eg car manufacturing like aircraft has global supply chains so “national” enterprises have to become parts of transnationals.

      Major issue that has to be dealt with is of course:

      3. What is to be done? How do we actually move from private, national and transnational enterprises for the benefit of global capitalist class to ownership and management of by and for the global working class? The reason for the Labor party waffling is that this does not have some easy and obvious solution so most workers do simply accept that whatever is done must be “affordable” to the ruling class.

    • Virgens VK Says:

      You’re fetichising social-democracy here.

      The power of the capitalist class comes uniquely from the fact that it owns the means of production: no one eats one pea or wears one t-shirt without the capitalist allowing it.

      Now, the capitalist doesn’t need to be one person. It can be a confederation of shareholders; it can be the State; it can be a supercomputer; it can be a pink pony. That’s because wealth, in capitalism, gains life on its own, becomes completely alienable.

      So, a capital can be owned by the State. If the State is capitalist, the same principle of capitalist exploitation applies. Of course, the tendency in a capitalist State is for the State to pick up the most cumbersome and unprofitable sectors (bureaucracy, large common use infrastructure etc.) and, since the State has the natural monopoly of taxation, it can give itself the luxury of allowing its workers more rights (vacations, more pay rises than usual etc.). It doesn’t change the nature of capital.

      So, there are publicly owned companies and publicly owned companies. When the working class literally owns what it produces, it is definitely a communal means of production (therefore it is socialist); when it is in the hands of a capitalist State, it is still a capitalist means of production (therefore, the law of value still applies).

      • Boffy Says:

        Virgens,

        “The power of the capitalist class comes uniquely from the fact that it owns the means of production: no one eats one pea or wears one t-shirt without the capitalist allowing it.”

        Actually, as Marx describes in Capital III, Chapter 27, and Engels describes more decidedly later in his Critique of the Erfurt Programme, and in his Supplement to Capital III, this is no longer true. It is only the small scale private capitalists who today own the means of production, and although these form the numerical majority of capitalists they are no longer the dominant sector.

        “I am familiar with capitalist production as a social form, or an economic phase; capitalist private production being a phenomenon which in one form or another is encountered in that phase. What is capitalist private production? Production by separate entrepreneurs, which is increasingly becoming an exception. Capitalist production by joint-stock companies is no longer private production but production on behalf of many associated people. And when we pass on from joint-stock companies to trusts, which dominate and monopolise whole branches of industry, this puts an end not only to private production but also to planlessness.”

        (Engels)

        The dominant form of capital is large-scale socialised capital. And as socialised capital, then as Marx points out in Capital III, it is not owned by capitalists, any more than is the other form of socialised capital such as a co-operative. The capital, as Marx describes is owned by the company itself, as a legal entity in its own right, which Marx says can mean nothing other than the associated producers working within it.

        The capitalists do not own these means of production, they only own shares, and as with other such financial instruments, the only thing they are economically entitled to receive as a result of it, is a market rate of interest on the money-capital they have loaned to the company. That the owners of one peculiar form of debt instrument – the shareholders – are able to exercise control over capital they do not own is an anomaly, and one without any economic, legal, or logical basis. It stems solely from the political power exercised by this section of money-lending capitalists.

        The fact that it has no logical basis has been set out by John Kay and Aubrey Silberston. In Germany, the co-determination laws restrict that unjustified exercise of control, by providing for 50% of supervising boards to be elected by the workers, and an extension of that proposal was made by the EU in its Draft Fifth Directive on Company Law, as well as in the BUllock Report commissioned by the Wilson government in the 1970’s.

        But, those limited forms of industrial democracy act as a cover for the continuing dominance of the shareholders on those company boards. There is no justification for its continuance, and the working-class globally should launch a challenge to it, as a basic democratic demand.

  5. Nik Says:

    Hey Michael, do you think Labour would have to wait for some kind of financial crash (which is probably inevitable in the near future) as the justification they need to takeover banks? And is that a plausible scenario?

    • Virgens VK Says:

      Well, Gordon Brown had the opportunity (in 2008-9) and didn’t. He could’ve bought the banks for nothing, but he did the exact opposite: he took money from the taxpayers and covered the rotten papers of these banks, without any counterpart. He did a Thatcher.

      But, honestly, the British always demand Labour to be a true socialist party. But, if you analyse its history, when it wasn’t a pro-imperialist left party? When Attlee took power in 1945, everybody was in favor of the institution of a welfare state — even the tories. They were shitting their pants with the shadow of the USSR and the specter of communism in Western Europe in the wake of WWII.

      The only time you could, forcibly, state Labour was under genuine socialist control (the 1980s, under Foot), it never won the GE. Corbyn’s leadership would be only the second time in Labour’s centenary history it is under socialist hegemony — but he still hasn’t won any GE (albeit he inflicted a heavy defeat to the tories in the last snap GE).

      • Boffy Says:

        Virgens,

        “But, honestly, the British always demand Labour to be a true socialist party. But, if you analyse its history, when it wasn’t a pro-imperialist left party? When Attlee took power in 1945, everybody was in favor of the institution of a welfare state — even the tories. They were shitting their pants with the shadow of the USSR and the specter of communism in Western Europe in the wake of WWII.”

        This is a common trope that has been circulated by Stalinists and their fellow travellers within social democracy, but it is historically false. Prussia started creating social insurance schemes in the first half of the 19th century. Bismark used it as the model for his plans to itnroduce National Insurance, and as set out above, Engels was opposed to the SPD giving credence to it.

        The first forms of social insurance and welfare provision were established in Britain in 1909, and at the time Churchill as Chairman of the Board of Trade also pushed through a Minimum Wage. The first work done on producing plans for a welfare state, were done by the Tory Neville Chamberlain, in the 1920’s, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and put on hold, because of the onset of the period of Depression that ran through the 1920’s, and into the mid 1930’s.

        Nearly every developed capitalist economy has created some form of welfare state, including the US, and now China is following suit. They do so because such socialised systems of healthcare and education and so on puts control of these important aspects of the reproduction of labour-power in the hands of the capitalist state, providing it with powerful tools not just of socialisation and ideological control, but also of macro economic management in the supply of labour-power.

      • Boffy Says:

        I should also have added that the concept of corporate welfarism was developed in the US in the latter half of the 19th century, as a means of socialising company workforces, dissauding them from joining unions, but also as Ford demonstrated in the early 20th century of retaining workers, and making them more productive, so as to increase profits.

  6. ucanbpolitical Says:

    We could all go into the difference between productive labour and unproductive labour which applies to all workers working for the state and whose labour does not form a commodity which is sold. In that event workers produce surplus labour but not unpaid labour (surplus value) because their labour is not converted into value. But to engage in this discussion would be bookish. What is happening out there in the real world, the debate which we need to engage with now, is how to argue for these proposals so they form the bridge to a socialist society. The first and unavoidable step is to argue for the removal of conditionality behind labour’s proposals. If we cannot win the argument to put workers first regardless of the consequence to the capitalist economy, then we are light years away from revolutionary working class consciousness.

    • Boffy Says:

      Ucan,

      “We could all go into the difference between productive labour and unproductive labour which applies to all workers working for the state and whose labour does not form a commodity which is sold. In that event workers produce surplus labour but not unpaid labour (surplus value) because their labour is not converted into value.”

      I take it you don’t want to discuss that argument. However, I would point out that it is wrong. The labour of state workers is productive labour, the same as with workers producing similar goods and services in the “private” sector. They do produce commodities, the fact that those commodities might be paid for by a collective payment made by the working-class, whilst being consumed individually does not change that, any more than the fact that because car drivers in toto pay car insurance into an insurance fund, whilst car drivers individually benefit from that insurance fund when the damage to their cars is paid for out of that fund changes the nature of car repairs as being a commodity.

      As marx points out a teacher employed by a private school is a productive labourer, as much as a labourer in a sausage factory, because the teacher produces a commodity education, which is sold to parents who pay tuition fees for it. The amount the school obtains from thes tuition fees reflects the value of the product (education) provided by the teacher as a wage labourer, whilst what the teacher is paid for their labour-power, is only a wage which reproduces that labour-power. The difference between the two constitutes surplus value, and is appropriate by the school, to be used to accumulate additional capital, by adding buildings, employing additional teachers and so on. It makes absolutely no difference to the productive nature of this labour if the teacher is employed by a state capitalist rather than a private capitalist.

      The idea that the value created by such a worker employed by the state is not realised, because it may not be reflected in an appropriate price, is also false, for the reasons Marx sets out. The unpaid labour of all workers employed by capitals with a lower organic composition of capital, or higher than average rate of turnover is never fully realised by the capital that employs them, because under capitalism commodities sell at prices of production not exchange values. But, that does not at all mean that this unpaid labour is not realised. It is realised by all those other capitals that have a higher organic composition of capital, or lower than average rate of turnover. All of these latter capitals appropriate a part of the surplus value produced by the workers in the former capitals.

      So, it is, as Marx explains in relation to monopolies that are also able to appropriate some of the surplus value produced by other non-monopolist capitals, and in reverse, if the state capitalist sells commodities at prices below their price of production, it thereby transfers some of the surplus value produced by state workers to other capitals.

      The labour of the state workers is indeed not “converted” into value, because as labour it already IS value. What it is not converted fully into is possibly a price charged by the state for the commodities it produces, but to confuse this money price with value is commodity fetishism, and a confusion of money with value.

      • mandm Says:

        Boffy, the Russian revolution wasn’t “Stalinist.” Stalin was stalinist. The revolution itself was a successful (for a time) attempt to free the Russian people from the imperial system. Only “marxists” like you and Stalin believe in the inherent “Stalinism” of all the actual revolutions of the 20th century (China, Vietnam, Cuba, Zimbabwe, etc.) Your analyses are almost perfectly true to the letter of marxian law, but not true to the spirit. In eschewing all the actual revolutions and attempts at reform of the 20th and 21st centuries as “stalinist” or social democratic betrayals, you, in effect, leave no alternative but liberalism and imperialism (of which you say almost nothing).

        Do you think that bombing/surveilling drones are as good an example of your predictive (dystopian) new wave of capital expansion as are Tusk’s rocket and robotic virtual medical care? See J. Smith’s “Voyage to Laputa” for further inspiration…

      • mandm Says:

        correction: change “”Tusk’s rocket” to “Musk’s rocket”. A tusk belongs to a boar. The rocket belongs to a wealthy bore.

      • ucanbpolitical Says:

        Margaret Thatcher would not have agreed with you Boffy. She lamented that state workers cost tax but did not produce any profit. What distinguishes productive from unproductive from domestic labour is that in the first instance their are two exchanges the purchase of labour power and the sale of the resulting labour, in the second instance their is only one exchange, the purchase of labour power, and in the final instance their is no exchange. Domestic labour is completely private labour because labour power is neither bought nor labour sold.

      • Boffy Says:

        Mandm,

        I didn’t say anywhere that the Russian revolution WAS Stalinist. You seem to have put forward a straw man based on something I didn’t say, simply in order for you to put forward a preconceived argument against what I didn’t say.

      • Boffy Says:

        Ucan,

        Whatever Thatcher actually thought, as opposed to what she said, is irrelevant to the actual reality that all those state workers involved in producing commodities, including services such as health, education and social care are just as much productive labourers as are their equivalents who produce those commodities in the non-state sector.

        They produce value equal to x – the amount of abstract labour they perform, and they are paid wages of x – v (where v represents the value, abstract labour-time required for the reproduction of their labour-power), and consequently as with any other wage-worker in such conditions they produce surplus value equal to the difference between the two.

        You distinguish between productive labour, unproductive labour and domestic labour in a way that is not clear. You say,

        “What distinguishes productive from unproductive from domestic labour is that in the first instance their are two exchanges the purchase of labour power and the sale of the resulting labour”

        But, this is wrong, for the reasons Marx sets out In TOSV, Chapter 4. The wage worker does sell labour-power to the capitalist, but what the capitalist then sells is not the resulting labour, but the product of that labour. Indeed, as Marx sets out in Chapter 4, this is a difference between productive and unproductive labour, because unproductive labour does not sell labour-power as a commodity, but itself sells the product of its labour, including where that product is some form of labour service, for example a cook who provides meals for someone in their home.

        But, state workers do not sell the product of their labour to the capitalist state for the state itself to consume, in the way a cook sells the product of their labour (cooked lamb chops to use Marx’s example) to the buyer, for their consumption. The state workers sell their labour-power to the state capitalist, and are paid a wage for it, equal to the value of labour-power. The state capitalist then sells the product of that labour to its consumers, be those consumers energy or steel companies that buy the resultant coal, or domestic consumers that buy coal or gas or electricity, or car companies that buy electricity and steel, or people who consume health care, social care and education, and who pay for it by paying into a social insurance system to cover the costs of that consumption.

        As Marx sets out in relation to the labour of the teacher the labour of all these state wage workers would only be unproductive if instead of selling their labour-power to the capitalist state, which in turn sells the product of their labour, all of those workers instead sold the product of their labour directly to consumers, so that they never sold labour-power itself as a commodity. That would be like a teacher who sells the product of their labour directly to a consumer, for example, a private tutor who is paid directly by the student, or their family, or the cook who produces a use value – cooked lamb chops – to be bought and consumed.

        So your comment,

        “in the second instance their is only one exchange, the purchase of labour power,”

        Is also wrong, because with unproductive labour, labour-power itself is not sold as a commodity. What is sold is the product of the labour, for example the tutor who sells education to a private student, the cook who sells cooked lamb chops to a householder, or the prostitute who sells their services directly to clients, rather than who is employed by a brothel keeper.

        The only condition under which unproductive labour could be sold as labour-power, is where it produces use values not commodities. For example, a rich person might employ a cook to provide them with meals, and might pay wages to the cook. The value of the product of the cook’s labour, in the shape of cooked lamb chops might be greater than the value of the wages, but it does not produce surplus value, because the rich employer of the cook wants the lamb chops only as a use value to directly consume themselves, not to sell as a commodity so as to realise surplus value, and thereby accumulate capital. In other words, here the cook’s labour-power is sold as a commodity in exchange for wages, but produces only a use value not a commodity, and any surplus labour-time is consumed by the employer along with the lamb chops, rather than being realised as surplus value for the purpose of accumulation. As Marx says, capital is a social relation, and it is the social context that determines whether a machine is being used as means of production simply to produce use values, or whether it is being used as capital so as to produce surplus value, to be accumulated as capital, and the same applies to labour-power.

        Domestic labour is always unproductive because it does not exchange with capital. It does not produce commodities for the purpose of being sold, so as to realise produced surplus value, and thereby accumulate additional capital. It stands outside that social relation that is capital.

        The wage labour employed by the state does not fall into either of these latter two categories, where what the worker sells or exchanges is the product of their labour, but fall into the first category of wage labour whereby labour-power itself is sold as a commodity by the workers, and the buyer of that labour-power, here the state capitalist, then uses it to produce commodities not as use values for direct consumption by the employer, but as commodities to be sold to and consumed by others, which thereby reproduces the consumed capital, along with a surplus value, whether or not that surplus value is realised as profits in full, in part, or not at all by the state capitalist.

  7. Charles A. Says:

    “Win enough reforms from the capitalist class, and all is well. The term for people of this view used to be social democrat. They usually call themselves democratic socialists now. Some of them just forget about replacing the capitalist order. Others mention socialism like a bow before the cross. Still others tell the fairy tale that we can take a reformist road to socialism.” (here)

  8. Edgar Says:

    I don’t really dispute the thrust of your argument Boffy, particularly around the capitalist state being another mechanism to fleece the working and middle classes, but you have only managed to take me so far, at which point I stop. Of course the decisions taken under capitalism are generally with the interests of capitalism in mind, even if sometimes that means saving capitalists from themselves. But that doesn’t mean conflicts between capital and labour or capital and whoever doesn’t break out and it doesn’t mean capitalists always get their own way. Capitalism can afford a degree of leeway, I guess this ability to compromise a little is one of its strengths.

    Yes capitalists will continually try to undermine any successful attempts by the working class or whoever to encroach on its power, which is one good reason among many others to be a socialist.

    Engels may have been very wary of any statist solutions coming from the left, particularly those statist solutions that didn’t promise a revolution to go along with it. However, Engels vision of socialism did include state ownership, let me quote him from 1890,

    “To my mind, the so-called “socialist society” is not anything immutable. Like all other social formations, it should be conceived in a state of constant flux and change. Its crucial difference from the present order consists naturally in production organized on the basis of common ownership by the nation of all means of production. To begin this reorganization tomorrow, but performing it gradually, seems to me quite feasible.”

    It doesn’t get much more unequivocal than this. You can certainly see why those early Marxists like Lenin saw Marxism in terms of state ownership. It isn’t like they were deviating from the tenets is it.

    So my basic point still stands, public services, even under capitalist conditions deliver to a degree on need and not ability to pay. Imagine what they would be like under a socialist society!

    Virgens VK

    “Of course, the tendency in a capitalist State is for the State to pick up the most cumbersome and unprofitable sectors”

    Probably one of the most profitable sectors is health care because you can easily sell above value products that claim to make you healthy. The fact that in the UK some health services are not in the private sector does illustrate my point that capitalists don’t always get what they want. I admit that by the day ever more parts of health do come under the iniquities of the market but that is beside the point and it is has taken decades to reach that point.

    But I say again, however imperfectly they do it public services deliver based on need where private always delivers based on ability to pay and in this ay public services are a living subversion of capitalist ideology. And moreover the capitalists know it!

    • Boffy Says:

      Edgar,

      I agree that “conflicts between capital and labour or capital and whoever doesn’t break out”, and of course, it is our job to intervene in such conflicts to promote the interests of workers, but in essence there is no difference in these conflicts when they break out between workers and state capital, than when they break out between “private” capital, and workers, other than as Kautsky says, and as the mIners found in 1984, the state capital is far more powerful to be able to beat them down!

      As Marx sets out in his essay on Political Indifferentism against the purists and sectarians, just because we prefer workers self-government and self-management to statism does not mean that when the capitalist state DOES provide education, healthcare and so on, we say we will have nothing to do with it, that we don’t want our children educated, we don’t want healthcare and so on. It does mean that we point out the capitalist nature of that provision, its real class content and intent, and limitations, and that in the process of arguing for its democratisation, and so on, we explain why the capitalist state will never ultimately accede to such requests, and so we will have to create alternatives to it, under our own ownership and control.

      You say,

      “However, Engels vision of socialism did include state ownership,” but this illustrates precisely the problem, because you are failing to distinguish between the current capitalist state, and the future workers state that Engels was discussing in the quote you refer to. In Capital III, Chapter 27 Marx refers to the fact that the growth of socialised capital – co-operatives and joint stock companies – was itself actually seeing the dismantling of former monopolistic state enterprises.

      Engels wrote,

      “It seems that the most advanced workers in Germany are demanding the emancipation of the workers from the capitalists by the transfer of state capital to associations of workers, so that production can be organised, without capitalists, for general account; and as a means to the achievement of this end: the conquest of political power by universal direct suffrage.”

      (Prussian Military Policy)

      And to make clear exactly what Engels meant when he spoke of common ownership, and ownership by the state, this is what he also wrote, in relation to co-operatives,

      “This is a measure which we must under all circumstances press for as long as large landed property remains there, and which we must ourselves carry out as soon as we come into power: the transfer – initially on lease – of the large landholdings to self-managing cooperatives under state supervision and in such a manner that the state remains the owner of the land. The measure has, however, the great advantage of being practically feasible, objectively speaking, but that no Party other than ours can take it up, and also that no Party can bungle it. And with that alone Prussia is done for, and the earlier we popularise it, the better it is for us.

      The matter has nothing to do with either Sch[ulze]-Delitzsch or with Lassalle. Both propagated small cooperatives, the one with, the other without state help; however, in both cases the cooperatives were not meant to come under the ownership of already existing means of production, but create alongside the existing capitalist production a new cooperative one. My suggestion requires the entry of the cooperatives into the existing production. One should give them land which otherwise would be exploited by capitalist means: as demanded by the Paris Commune, the workers should operate the factories shut down by the factory-owners on a cooperative basis. That is the great difference. And Marx and I never doubted that in the transition to the full communist economy we will have to use the cooperative system as an intermediate stage on a large scale. It must only be so organised that society, initially the state, retains the ownership of the means of production so that the private interests of the cooperative vis-a-vis society as a whole cannot establish themselves.”

      (Letter to Bebel 1885)

      In other words, the role of the state here was effectively only as a holding company, providing a guarantee against the co-operative property being privatised, whilst the day to day management was decisively in the hands of the workers in each enterprise themselves. And, as stated above, this is in conditions where the workers have already won the battle of democracy have turned themselves consciously into the ruling class, and have created their own workers semi-state, which itself is thereby in the process of withering away.

      The state as holding company here only performs the same kind of role that Marx and Engels via their associate Ernest Jones, had proposed to the British Co-operative movement. Jones wrote to the co-operators conference,

      “Then what is the only salutary basis for co-operative industry?  A NATIONAL one.  All co-operation should be founded, not on isolated efforts, absorbing, if successful, vast riches to themselves, but on a national union which should distribute the national wealth.  To make these associations secure and beneficial, you must make it their interest to assist each other, instead of competing with each other—you must give them UNITY OF ACTION, AND IDENTITY OF INTEREST.

      To effect this, every local association should be the branch of a national one, and all profits, beyond a certain amount, should be paid into a national fund, for the purpose of opening fresh branches, and enabling the poorest to obtain land, establish stores, and otherwise apply their labour power, not only to their own advantage, but to that of the general body.

       This is the vital point: are the profits to accumulate in the hands of isolated clubs, or are they to be devoted to the elevation of the entire people?  Is the wealth to gather around local centres, or is it to be diffused by a distributive agency?”

      When Engels spoke about “tomorrow”, in the quote you gave he did not mean literally tomorrow on the basis of the existing capitalist state, but tomorrow on the day after the workers have become the ruling class, and established their own state. It is simply saying, as he and Marx say elsewhere, that the process of transforming the mode of production is not something achieved overnight, but as part of a long transitional process.

      As Marx put it,

      “As the system of bourgeois economy has developed for us only by degrees so too its negation, which is its ultimate result.”

      (Grundrisse, p 712.)

      • jlowrie Says:

        Engels wrote,

        “It seems that the most advanced workers in Germany are demanding the emancipation of the workers from the capitalists by the transfer of state capital to associations of workers, so that production can be organised, without capitalists, for general account; and as a means to the achievement of this end: the conquest of political power by universal direct suffrage.”

        But as Pannekoek observes, ”In the so-called democracies, so-called because parliaments are chosen by universal suffrage, the governments are not at all delegates designated by the population as executors of its will….. The voters practically have only to chose between two sets of politicians… The State officials, who manage the affairs, are not selected by the people either; they are appointed from above, by the government” ( 2003 ”Workers’Councils” p31).

        Now I have no doubt that Engels would have agreed with Pannekoek’s analysis, but it has to be recognised that here he was preparing the ground for the revisionist Kautsky’s anti- revolutionary “The Dictatorship of the Proletariat” wherein he states ”A class can rule, but not govern, for a class is a formless mass, while only an organisation can govern. It is political parties which govern in a democracy.” ( 1964 p31). By this he means that the proletariat cannot govern itself, but must leave such governing to their ” intellectual representatives” as embodied in and exemplified by Kautsky himself. History demonstrates only too painfully that once such
        ”representatives” are elected they best represent themselves and their own interests, which soon come to be identified with those of Capital. Political parties are oligarchies, the very antithesis of democracies.

        I do think therefore we are mistaken in designating the proponents of such an ideology as ‘social democrats.’ Kautsky, Bernstein, etc. and more recently George Orwell or Corbyn are neither socialists nor democrats; their correct designation is that of the Manifesto, which calls such people ‘bourgeois socialists.’

      • Edgar Says:

        Boffy,

        I am sure if Engels had been pressed he would have qualified what he meant by the advanced workers, he probably felt it went without saying but of course if a group of workers form a cooperative they are indeed advanced when compared to the majority of workers, but the real step forward is not for a group of advanced workers to step up to the plate but for the movement overall to develop, and if pressed I am sure Engels would have made the point that ultimately a national plan to deliver based on need is not the job of a few advanced workers in scattered coops but is the day to day running of the socialist system which has to some degree been centralised. I think all Engels was trying to say here is that the advanced workers see no need for a capitalist class. I will admit I wish there were a few more advanced workers around!

        I just don’t know how you can dismiss what Engels was saying in 1890, which is about as mature as anything they said given they were both dead not long after!

        How can you interpret “production organized on the basis of common ownership by the nation of all means of production” any other way than some national coordinated plan that has a degree of centralisation and is directed to need and not profit?!

        How can you interpret “To begin this reorganization tomorrow, but performing it gradually, seems to me quite feasible”, any other way as bringing large scale industry and the like under immediate state control by a party representing the labour movement?

        Ok, given the history of the last 100+ years you may want to argue that Engels was wrong, but please put that argument forward and tell us how it could happen? Personally I don’t see how a few cooperatives can bring about a change in this system. I am with Marx, Engels, Lenin and even yes Stalin, the labour movement has to take power directly and when it has that power it has to expropriate the capitalist and bring their property under national control.

        Anything else is pissing in the wind and tilting at windmills.

        The only caveat with that and this is where I probably meet you a bit of the way, if the working class is not engaged or capable of engaging in the fight and is not actively involved in the movement then everything and I mean everything becomes academic.

      • jlowrie Says:

        Pannekoek’s solution was of course ”Workers’ Councils.” He writes,

        “The ruling body in this shop-organisation is the entirety of the collaborating worker…and in assembly take their decisions…in the new community of labour all interests are essentially the same

        In great factories and plants the number of workers is too large to gather in one meeting….Here decisions can only be taken…by…assemblies of central committees of delegates. The functions and practice of these assemblies cannot exactly be ascertained in advance now….

        Every shop is only a member in the social production, and also the connection of its doings with the work outside is expressed in the ( public) book-keeping. Thus insight in the production going on in every enterprise is a piece of common knowledge for all producers” (Ibid. pp20-23).

        But how is social need identified and how is it ensured that such factory production is in fact socially necessary labour?

        Apparently, delegates from all the factories ”are sent as spokesmen of the group to confront the views of other groups to come to a collective decision…

        …to regulate the social rights and duties…will be the first task of the workers’ councils ” (PP24-25).

        ”The basis of the social organisation of production consists in a careful administration in the form of statistics and bookkeeping..

        The general bookkeeping, comprehending and encompassing the administration of the separate enterprises combines them all into an economic process of society…a network of interconnected computing offices” ( p 26).

        ”In the field of production itself every plant has… to connect itself horizontally with similar enterprises, vertically with those who provide them with materials or use their products…deciding councils.. ..up to the central organisation of the entire production” (P49).

        Now for me personally this is all just too vague. What if a council representing a large number of workers cannot agree with a council representing a much smaller number? Will a plan be imposed by a higher council and on what numerical basis will these delegates be elected to this council? How will social plans be formulated? On what basis will labour time be distributed among the various departments of the economy?

        I for one cannot see how a central organising body can be avoided at least analogous to that of the state, albeit without its oppressive functions.

        Marx himself observes, ”in all labour where many individuals co-operate, the interconnection and unity of the process is necessarily represented in a governing will…as with the conductor of an orchestra” ( Capital Vol.3
        P 507).

        ”All directly social or communal labour on a large scale requires a directing authority in order to secure the harmonious co-operation of the activities of the individuals, and to perform the general functions that have their origin in the motion of the total productive organism” ( Vol 1 p448).

      • Boffy Says:

        Engels was envisioning a situation whereby the German SPD, as a revolutionary Workers Party came to power. As he says, parliamentary representation is nothing more than an index of the maturity of the working-class. He was not talking about the election of some kind of Labourite social democracy, but the winning of the battle of democracy by the working-class, manifest in the election of such a Workers Government.

        But, the whole point of Engels comments written much earlier on the Prussian Military Policy about universal conscription was precisely that holding government office is not the same as holding state power. The workers as ruling class would have to sweep away the existing organs of the capitalist state, and all of their functionaries, and replace them with their own.

        Its in this context of the working-class becoming the ruling class, and creating its own Workers Government, which Engels thought was imminent in Germany, that is the basis of his comment about such a Workers Government proceeding “tomorrow” to the creation of co-operative property on a national basis, and of starting the work on reorganising society. But, his whole point is that this is a long process that they could “begin”, but could not complete overnight.

        This is a completely different situation to a Labour government or some other social-democratic government taking office, whilst the capitalist class remains the ruling class, and continues to control the state, and whereby that state will continue to act in the interests of capital, and against the government where necessary. In fact, its why I wrote recently that Rees-Mogg is quite right in saying that the British capitalist state is not class neutral, and is acting in the interests of large-scale socialised capital, in relation to Brexit, by trying to frustrate the actions of the government in pushing Brexit through. That state,as happened in Chile, in 1973, overthrow the government if things reach such a state that the actions of the government seriously threaten the interests of capital.

        Kautsky’s distinction between governmental office and state power is absolutely correct, therefore. It is not unusual for a class to be the ruling class, and yet for the party of some other class to form the government. Lenin’s analysis of Tsarist Russia is instructive in that sense. Criticising the economic romanticism of the Narodniks, Lenin noted that the Russian state by the end of the 19th century, was already a capitalist state. Because capital had become the dominant economic and social force, upon which the wealth and future of the entire society then depended that state could do no other objectively than to carry forward measures that facilitated the development of capital, or it threatened the viability of the society, and thereby the state itself. Yet, the political regime certainly was not bourgeois, it remained firmly under the grip of Tsarist absolutism. It is what made a political revolution to bring the political regime into line with the class nature of the state inevitable.

        It is not this recognition of the distinction between the political regime and class rule, between governmental office and state power where Kautsky was at fault, but in his belief in the forms of parliamentary democracy as the necessary form of the political regime of the working-class, even after the experience of the Paris Commune had provided for Marx and Engels the answer to the historical question of what form of state and political regime would be appropriate for socialism.

        The question raised in relation to Pannakoek and Workers Councils, I think shows why Marx and Engels did not suggest creating schemas of how a future society would work, and certainly did not propose formulating detailed grand plans of social production, but instead saw a long process in which worker co-operatives would continue to produce in much the same way that firms continue to produce today – they would have though that the large scale, long term business planning done by large corporations, already mostly answered this question – and by continuing to operate for some time within a market context, the question of having to comply to some plan determined on high – even one “democratically derived” – and so of having to submit to some form of compulsion, is removed.

        On the basis of growing co-operation between firms and sectors, between producers and consumers, and as productive capacity rises at an increasing rate lessening the impact of economic necessity, and on the basis also of taking increasing aspects of production out of the market, and providing them on the basis of need, the social plan of production grows organically out of society. There is no need to impose it from outside.

      • Socialism In One Bedroom Says:

        “As he says, parliamentary representation is nothing more than an index of the maturity of the working-class.”

        He was probably a little deluded here! For a start he overstates the importance of voting for someone else to take decisions on your behalf, maybe he remembered the times when there wasn’t universal suffrage and believed voting now and again actually meant something. He was also wrong, the popularity of the SPD at that time it turns out meant jack shit.

        “But, his whole point is that this is a long process that they could “begin”, but could not complete overnight”

        Clearly whehn Engels say begin, he means begin the transfer of private capital into the hands of the state, because this was the context he was speaking in. If he meant what Boffy said, i.e. sweeping all the old structures away along with their functionaries then Engels was being more than a little economical with the truth. Now that might be your way Boffy but please don’t assume that of everyone else.

        “This is a completely different situation to a Labour government or some other social-democratic government taking office, whilst the capitalist class remains the ruling class, and continues to control the state, and whereby that state will continue to act in the interests of capital, and against the government where necessary.”

        Well maybe but I don’t think Engels really factored that in when he made his comments. Yours is a criticism og Engels but instead of just saying Engels was wrong, you have to twist his words to make them right!

        “Rees-Mogg is quite right in saying that the British capitalist state is not class neutral, and is acting in the interests of large-scale socialised capital, in relation to Brexit, by trying to frustrate the actions of the government in pushing Brexit through.”

        And judging by this theory they must surely be successful in that attempt or your theory looks shaky to say the least. We wait with bated breath!

        “Kautsky’s distinction between governmental office and state power is absolutely correct, therefore.”

        Maybe it could be a reflection of the government in office! Maybe if the governments in office had a genune class movement behind them state power wouldn’t mean very much.

        “even after the experience of the Paris Commune had provided for Marx and Engels the answer to the historical question of what form of state and political regime would be appropriate for socialism”

        Marx’s one criticism of the Paris commune is that they didn’t take over the running of the bank if memory serves me right!

        “I think shows why Marx and Engels did not suggest creating schemas of how a future society would work, and certainly did not propose formulating detailed grand plans of social production”

        They didn’t suggest grand plans for production because production is all in the detail. However they gave the framework, carried out on a national scale and based on need not profit and with the abolition of class thrown in for good measure. So they weren’t shy at putting forward some proposals for the future society.

        “but instead saw a long process in which worker co-operatives would continue to produce in much the same way that firms continue to produce today”

        This is untrue. They saw no such long process. They saw a dictatorship of the proletariat where the extraction industries, banking, agriculture etc would be brought under immediate national control. No wasting time waiting for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

        “on the basis also of taking increasing aspects of production out of the market, and providing them on the basis of need, the social plan of production grows organically out of society. There is no need to impose it from outside.”

        There is no such thing as organic human development. In the game of thrones you either win or you die!

      • Socialism In One Bedroom Says:

        Missed this at the top:

        “Engels was envisioning a situation whereby the German SPD, as a revolutionary Workers Party came to power.”

        I think you have said before that Engels didn’t believe in joining sectarian parties but mass ones, where is your evidence that the SPD was a revolutionary party, as opposed to a social democratic one?

      • jlowrie Says:

        Boffy, you say, ”Kautsky’s distinction between governmental office and state power is absolutely correct, therefore. It is not unusual for a class to be the ruling class, and yet for the party of some other class to form the government.”

        I agree that history demonstrates that this is true of class societies; but history equally demonstrates that it is untrue of communism. Let us recall that in 1913 Ebert succeeded Babel as leader of the SPD. The son of a tailor who had 9 children he came ”to hate the social revolution like sin.” It was he who used the Freikorps to crush the left, thus preparing the ground for Hitler’s ascendency. In return he got to wear a top hat and frock coat. Maybe his father would have been proud! And nothing much has changed since.

        It is clear by now that the proletariat cannot emancipate itself through a political party. The class has to govern itself, which means democracy to be sure, but the exercise of the right to vote is not the exercise of power, and thus is not a mark of democracy. As Aristotle observes the mark of a democratic government is selection by lot, because this will ensure that the poor or unpropertied will always win. Political parties and trade unions are oligarchies; they will never deliver socialism. It is what I call the view from the rickshaw: when our erstwhile socialist or trade unionist ascends from toiling at the front to lolling at the back, his/her view of the world changes.

      • Boffy Says:

        J,

        Which simply illustrates that the SPD that Marx and Engels belonged to, which produced the Erfurt Programme that Engels, for all his criticisms of it, believed was the best they had yet developed, and which they recognised thereby as being a revolutionary workers party, was subject to the same laws of history as every other phenomenon, i.e. it was inevitably subject to change.

        The party of Marx, Engels, Kautsky, Liebnitz, Bebel was the professional revolutionary party that Lenin based his concept on as set out in What Is To Be Done. A mass revolutionary workers party that organised several million workers and had the support of many millions more.

        As Lenin set out in The State and Revolution, basing himself on Engels comment about parliamentary democracy only being an index of the maturity of class consciousness, the workers cannot simply legislate socialism into existence as the reformists believe be they of the Bernstein variety, or the left variety such as the former Militant Tendency/Socialist Party, with their calls for a socialist government to nationalise the commanding heights of the economy. That would be to invite the state and ruling class to inflict the kind of retribution they inflicted upon Allende.

        It is why Engels argued for universal military conscription so that the workers would stand behind their government arms in hand, to defend the measures they had called on it to pursue. And, the fact is that, however, much we might in the meantime create workers co-operatives, they will never on their own be able to overpower the force of capital without a state organised to support them, and to crush the slave owners rebellion of capital that seeks to frustrate that development, any more than the bourgeoise relied solely upon the growth of capital to defeat feudal property.

        If we take the immediate situation, for example, that I have described of the lack of control over workers pension funds, or the power of shareholders to exercise control over the socialised capital they do not own. here and now, challenging that situation can only be done as a political struggle, a struggle for a progressive social democratic government that would carry through the appropriate measures, and which would need to be backed by a fully mobilised working-class.

        I am not a statist, but neither am I an anarchist. We need to liberate ourselves as a class, and that means developing our own property forms, our own forms of self-government, based upon direct workers democracy, and we need to develop our own state organs to defend our property and democracy, via the creation of self-defence squads, a workers militia and so on, but moving forward to such developments itself will require that we do so by organising through a revolutionary workers party, that directs such activity, and acts as the memory of the class.

      • jlowrie Says:

        Boffy, I doubt that many readers of this blog will dissent from what you say here. I especially agree with your last paragraph, as ought all Marxists. However, the sad facts of the matter are that history demonstrates that the vast majority of so-called marxist parties disavowed all revolutionary ideals, and even the few which finally triumphed eventually took the road back to capitalism.

        It is all very well for us to talk of the crises of capitalism, but what of Marxism’s crisis or rather its endless bleak mid-winter? I know of no mass party which has a revolutionary Marxist programme. To remedy this, as I have argued, we need a concrete and detailed programme that explains what went wrong in past revolutions and how we intend to rectify that. One step is the clarification of what we mean by democracy. There is no democratic state in the world today. Democracy is either direct democracy or it is not democracy at all. This is why I would argue that the democratic Communist party does not aim at power for itself, but after smashing the bourgeois state introduces democracy, which in its extreme version would be analogous to the dictatorship of the proletariat. The features of a democracy are delineated in pages 237 -238 of the Penguin translation of Aristotle’s ‘Politics.’ I particularly like point (11)” perpetual tenure of office is not favoured by democracy; and if any perpetual office remains in being after an earlier revolution we note that it has been shorn of its power and its holders selected by lot from among picked candidates.”

        All Leninists be advised. There is a bitter joke, which I think may be Cuban in origin: Leninism is the transformation period between capitalism and capitalism, or as Mao had it ”The bourgeoisie in China sits on the Central Committee of the Communist Party”: he just forgot to add ”and of every other party too.” Why? because political parties, which rise with the capitalist mode of production, are oligarchies, and capitalism is the best form of property for a modern oligarchy to ensure its power and wealth.

        In Russia the Orthodox Church has declared the last Tsar a saint. No doubt as Putin crossed himself they blessed his millions too. Amen, indeed.

  9. ucanbpolitical Says:

    I must tell you that I wish Labour would launch on national campaign instead of all this Mickey Mouse programmes. They should have called the NHS protest. They should have advised the CLPs to mobilise their members for the demonstration and use party funds to hire busses. Jeremy Corbyn should have addressed the protest. Nothing, nada. Is it any wonder that Tries are ahead in the polls?

  10. ucanbpolitical Says:

    should read one national campaign

  11. Arthur Says:

    I’ve mentioned before that the edX MITx series of free MOOCs on “Supply Chain Management” is excellent for understanding how modern capitalism actually works.

    Just got a reminder that first of next series starts soon (April 3). This provides the basic quantiative background required of workers managing supply chains. I do believe something like that level of mathematical knowledge is necessary for workers supervising managers in pretty well anything, otherwise the workers actually doing the management inherently have a different relation to the means of production and tend to become a separate class of owners.

    The rest of the series is far more obviously relevant. Basically Supply Chain Managers perform the functions of managing “commerce” that used to be performed by Merchant Capitalists (plus a lot of integration with production management). This “commerce” is now a technical/engineering discipline taught at institutions likes MIT.

    Anyone serious about wanting to think through how capitalist enterprises can be transformed into activities run of by and for the workers will find it very well worth while to study this course in how it is now done by technical/engineering workers working on behalf of capital.

    https://www.edx.org/course/supply-chain-analytics-mitx-ctl-sc0x-3

    Especially useful for anyone who wants to understand Vol 2 and 3 of Capital.

    Essentially “Supply Chain Management” is about the modern form of the “Circulation Process of Capital” (Vol 2) which has to be transformed into the “supply” function of communist production, together with the “Process of Capitalist Production as a Whole” (Vol 3) which covers the integration of the three circuits of capitalist production, circulation and finance which have to be transformed into communist production, supply and planning.

    Understanding the modern reality of these as processes rather than mysteries is essential.

    PS Boffy, just in case you have realised that I am not sartesian’s sock puppet, you would especially benefit.

  12. Arthur Says:

    All the discussion above seems to be in the context of national states. Yet the world has developed as the Communist Manifesto predicted, towards a globalized economy.

    Illusions about this are at least comprehensible in a large economy like the USA where trade only increased from 9% to 27% of GDP from 1960 to now. Globally trade is more than half of GDP and in the UK that was already the situation in 1960. So it is pretty bizarre seeing this kind of discussion in a UK blog.

    There will be a long historic epoch in which a key task remains the industrialization of the third world (including electrification and toilets in Africa and South Asia). Relations between developed and developing countries will still necessarily involve exchange of commodities and money. Global transnational corporations cannot be managed by either local workers councils or national states.

    How about some discussion relevant to the world we actually live in?

  13. Boffy Says:

    J,

    I agree. But, it becomes necessary for a revolutionary workers party to still deal with the reality that exists, including the reality of bourgeois parliamentary democracy. Marx said in his Inaugural Address that the development of co-operatives wes more significant than the passing of the Ten Hours Act, but he didn’t dispute the significance of the ten Hours Act, because it was an example of real class struggle as opposed to merely sectional trades union struggle, and by reducing working-time for all workers, it created the basis for workers to have time to study, to raise their level of culture, to take part in political activity, and thereby to prepare themselves to become the ruling class.

    It is not insignificant whether here and now, for similar reasons, workers continue to enjoy basic bourgeois freedoms such as the right to organise, to free speech, and so on, and for not the basis for defending those freedoms is via bourgeois parliaments. Bourgeois parliaments are not the means by which the working-class can legislate socialism into existence, but they are still vital forums for ensuring that the bourgeois freedoms that exist are defended, on the basis of consistent democracy, and that the basic framework in which workers can organise and develop is facilitated.

    As such, just as the furtherance of socialised capital – be it of co-operatives of of joint stock companies, and a struggle for industrial democracy – remains within the framework of capitalism, such struggles remain social-democratic rather than socialist in content. Or put another way, they amount to the Minimum Programme rather than Maximum Programme, that Marx outlined in the Programme of the French Socialists.

    The fact, is as Hal Draper sets out in The Two Souls of Socialism the so called Marxist Parties have largely been nothing of the kind. Even the German SPD, including the Erfurt Programme, continued to be heavily influenced by the statism, Lassalleanism and Fabianism that Marx criticised in the Critique of the Gotha Programme. It was inherited by Lenin and the Third International, and by Trotsky and the Fourth International, and its is more than visible in the politics of today’s “revolutionary” sects, as well as in the reformist parties.

    The role of a mass revolutionary workers party in parliament should be to focus on that task of creating the legal and institutional framework that allows the working-class to liberate itself, which means doing so at an international level, which is why things such as opposing Brexit, fall within that context. It should use parliament also as a platform from which to propagandise for that self-liberation, for the self-government and self-activity of the class, for the class to create co-operatives, to demand and gain industrial democracy so as to exercise control over socialised industrial capital, and to create new social forms appropriate to that self-government.

    It has to do that, in that way, if we recognise that things like the Russian Revolution, are in fact an anachronism, that arise in backward countries as part of the process of permanent revolution, and that history in the developed capitalist countries where the transition to socialism is much easier, will take a different route, but a route that offers the potential to avoid all of those deficiencies that affected the Russian revolution, and caused the workers state there to arise as Lenin put it as a bureaucratically deformed workers state, resting not on socialist economic relations, but on the economic relations of state capitalism.

    We have the potential here and now to build large-scale co-operatives, and to wage a struggle for control over socialised industrial capital, even within the confines of bourgeois ideology and property law. We have the potential on that basis to build the self-government of the working-class, and social relations appropriate to it, as the material foundations of building a mass revolutionary workers party. And we have the potential on that basis to create new forms of self-government and state on an international basis, based upon direct democracy, and the creation of workers councils operating as legislative and executive organs, thereby replacing bourgeois democracy, and the bourgeois democratic state apparatus.

    The mass revolutionary workers party, as with the state itself, should in those conditions start to wither away, as we move merely to an administration of things. As Simon Clarke put it,

    “For the working-class the Party is a means of mobilising and generalising its opposition to Capital and its State, and of building autonomous forms of collective organisation, while for the intellectual stratum it is a means of achieving power over capital and the state… As soon as the party has secured state power, by whatever means, it has fulfilled its positive role as far as the intellectual stratum is concerned. The latter’s task is now to consolidate and exploit its position of power to secure the implementation of the Party’s programme in the interests of the ‘working class’. Once the Party has seized power, any opposition it encounters from the working class is immediately identified as sectional or factional opposition to the interests of the working class as a whole, the latter being identified with the Party as its self-conscious representative.”

    Clarke echoes the view expressed by Draper saying,

    “The distinction between the Bolshevik and social democratic variants of state socialism should not be ignored, but it is more a matter of degree than of substance. The ‘degeneration’ of the Russian Revolution was not a matter of Lenin’s intolerance, nor of Trotsky’s militarism, nor of Stalin’s personality, nor of the economic backwardness nor of the relatively small size of the Russian working class, nor of the autocratic character of the Russian State, nor of the embattled position of the revolutionary regime, although all these factors played their part in determining the extent of the degeneration. The degeneration was already inherent in the class character of the revolution which underlay the statist conception of socialism which it adopted as its project.”

    • Boffy Says:

      J,

      P.S.

      “I doubt that many readers of this blog will dissent from what you say here. I especially agree with your last paragraph, as ought all Marxists.”

      I think you are being hopeful there. LOL. I think we both know that three are several readers of this blog, multiplied by their sock puppets, who would argue that black was white, in order to disagree with any position I might take.

    • jlowrie Says:

      ”But, it becomes necessary for a revolutionary workers party to still deal with the reality that exists, including the reality of bourgeois parliamentary democracy.”

      The point I was making is that there is no such entity as a ‘parliamentary democracy,’ however much weight might be thought necessary to place on such parliamentary struggles. Note that bourgeois ideologues in discussing political developments use phrases such as democracy ‘has been restored’ or ‘introduced’ in India or Korea etc. whereby the use of the passive voice enables them to elide the agents of such ‘restoration.’ Clearly the agents who restore it are just the ones with the real power, and if they are able to restore it they are equally able to abolish it again. What the dominant ideology describes as ” liberal democracy” Aristotle defines as ‘moderate oligarchy.’ An oligarchy best maintains itself in power, he observes, by conceding certain minor rights to the majority such as holding unimportant state positions, serving on a jury or voting periodically.

      I was till now unfamiliar with Clarke’s analysis, but I agree absolutely, except for his use of the phrase ‘social democratic’. As I have argued above, the correct scientific term for such parties is ‘bourgeois socialist’ ; for they are neither democratic nor socialist, quite the contrary. Look out for James D. White’s ”Marx and Russia: The Fate of a Doctrine”, appearing this September, which I hope will cause those with a sentimental attachment to October to reexamine their convictions.

      If Marxists can agree that the main failure of previous revolutions is to be found in the nature of the party and state i.e. that they were not democratic, but oligarchic, then we can begin to think up alternatives. For example, you find Brazilian leftists demanding demonstrations in the streets to save ‘democracy’ from corrupt judges. Now, if they have courts ruled over by judges, then they do not have any democracy to save in the first place. I would suggest that they rather held demonstrations demanding a referendum on the abolition of judges and their replacement by large juries chosen by lot from ordinary citizens, who after a trial return to their jobs i.e. an example of rule of the people by the people. If Brazilians were to wait till a parliamentary party advocating such a policy got elected to parliament I daresay they might wait forever.

      • Arthur Says:

        I like the term “bourgeois socialist” better than “social democratic” for much the same reasons.

        But at present getting that right doesn’t strike me as central. The bourgeois socialists have not been a major political tendency for a very long time. Certainly not where I am in Australia where the Labor Party has made no pretense of being socialist for decades. I have not been following UK and European politics closely. So perhaps I am underestimating the importance of Corbyism, Syriza and Podemas etc but my impression is that they are just an anomaly rather than a serious revival of what used to be a major force.

        Seems to me there never was a mass revolutionary workers party in advanced countries. Efforts to build them ended up remaining mass workers parties but reformist and counter-revolutionary which eventually became ordinary bourgeois center parties (with both the “center right” and “center left” both being conservative and both being reformist).

        Efforts to break from them ended up with “revolutionary” sects that had nothing to do with revolution, communism or working class and degenerating to “pseudo-left” that is more actively hostile to progress and democracy than the center parties.

        Starting point cannot be “Marxists” or anybody else agreeing on analysis of failures of previous revolutions or on principles of democracy. That is classical sectarian idealist utopianism. People drift into it when stuck.

        Current situation is that capitalism has been doing pretty well so there is no workers mass movement to replace it and the “marxian” sects are completely irrelevant.

        In discussion of a blog post on “Models of Public Ownership” it ought to be possible to exchange views on that subject. They are bound to be half baked views. But there is nothing inevitable about discussion drifting off into proposals for referenda on abolishing judges or claims that anybody disagreeing is a “sock puppet”. Those are both signs of extreme sectarian irrelevance.

        The thoroughly reformist post here has at least the merit of not just being sectarian irrelevance. It is natural for people to look for reformist solutions when the only other options appear to be sectarian irrelevance.

        I have tried to raise the issue that any meaningful discussion of public ownership has to be in a global context since more than half of production is traded and ownership is currently dominated by transnational corporations. That challenges both the reformist perspective in the main post and the discussion that largely ignores it.

        Still hoping for some response.

        What is the relevance of your ideas to the global economic system we actually live in?

      • Arthur Says:

        PS For example, given that the majority of the global working class do not live in even bourgeois democracies but do work for global capitalists, if struggle within bourgeois parliaments is still a historical task, then should we be following the example of Marx, Engels and other German and European 48ers in fighting for the establishment of bourgeois parliaments, now on a global rather than national scale?

        How will national revolutionary states (or duly elected Labour governments!) expropriate global transnationals ?

        How would one go about organizing demonstrations for referenda on replacing judges by juries under fascist regimes in Egypt or China? How would you go about explaining what on earth you were on about or which other planet you were from to anybody that was fascinated enough to ask?

      • jlowrie Says:

        Well, you have told us what you are against, Arthur, but what exactly are you for? Could you yourself provide some CONCRETE proposals that are neither sectarian nor irrelevant?

        ” or which other planet you were from to anybody that was fascinated enough to ask?” Nice of you to enquire! et tu, Arturo?

        P.S.”That is classical sectarian idealist utopianism. People drift into it when stuck.” I just love the analytical subtlety of your profounder utterances!

      • Arthur Says:

        My only concrete proposal is that discussion in this thread should focus on the topic “Models of Public Ownership”.
        Like others here I am not impressed with the Labour Party proposals discussed in Michael’s post.

        They are neither sectarian nor irrelevant. But I would like to see a focus on proposals that are more closely connected to practical reality. In particular proposals for taking possession of the capital that enables real ownership in the context of a global capitalist class that is not under the jurisdiction of any global state, parliamentary or otherwise. Likewise proposals for the management of transnational corporations that dominate the global economy that take into account the fact that it IS a global economy and that they are NOT national but transnational corporations managing industries that are not national but global.

        The reason I believe such discussion would be more relevant is that I expect we are headed into a major capitalist crisis that will require major reorganization of the world economy and there will therefore be a real interest in how competing political forces propose it should be reorganized. The fact that few are interested now places a heavier burden on those who are to come up with something. That will obvious not be sufficient for real relevance, and I will admit to pessimism about any left political force putting forward a serious program in the coming crisis. But at least attempting to do so would help efforts to start the process before the subsequent crisis rather than remaining permanently irrelevant.

        The scenario I have in mind is general financial collapse, mass unemployment, collapse of world trade and investment. Emergency measures are being taken by existing ruling class governments, but they are very discredited and there is real interest in alternatives.

        If some governments were formed that represented mass movements that wanted to transition from capitalism rather than stabilize it, what would their economic policy be? I assume the economic system would still be based on wage labor and commodity production, with international trade and investment flows between countries in which different classes rule.

        Some ideas. Initially national governments could expropriate the capital of their own billionaires. This would not provide control of most capital in most countries and there are obvious difficulties doing it at all, which need to be discussed. But if it was possible that would provide some funds actually owned by the public for investment in projects that were unprofitable for the previous owners but would reduce mass unemployment and help develop the productive forces (eg developing the third world, unleashing science and technology).

        Proposals that I regard as impractical include the sort of economic policies of Corbyism as for example attempted by Syriza in Greece, which involve “demanding” that the owners of capital loan the funds needed to bail out bankrupt economies, and then having no option but to accept the demands they make in return.

        Obviously I am from a parallel universe, not just another planet. I have seen lots of completely futile and pointless “demonstrations” by sects that imagine they are doing something useful. But I don’t expect to ever see “demonstrations demanding a referendum on the abolition of judges and their replacement by large juries…” and I don’t regard such suggestions as a serious contribution to discussion of “Models of Public Ownership”. The drift into such fantasies helps explain why others remain interested in Labour proposals that have been less bizarrely irrelevant for many decades.

      • Boffy Says:

        J,

        I think there clearly is a thing such as “Parliamentary democracy”. Its not a workers democracy, but it is a form of democracy appropriate for bourgeois rule. Initially, it takes the form of a liberal bourgeois democracy, whereby only the bourgeoisie and other property owners have the vote. It develops into a bourgeois social democracy at the point that the era of small private capital comes to an end, and that large socialised capitals dominate, and where this large scale industrial capital must, as Engels says assert its specific interests not just over the interest of the landlords, but also of their associates within the ranks of the financial oligarchy. The middle class that functions as the representative of this large scale socialised capital can only achieve that with the assistance of the working-class.

        At that point the working-class has to be incorporated and socialised via social-democratic organs such as the trades unions, to bargain within the system, and social-democratic parties that achieve the same function at the level of society. It can only be achieved when capital has accumulated to such a degree that this large scale socialised capital can also provide the working-class with a minimum standard of living without seriously challenging the ability of capital to accumulate, and which indeed requires a minimum standard of living, and rising living standards for workers so as to ensure that alongside rising productivity, the produced surplus value can be realised.

        Its why, as in the 1970’s, and 80’s, when the potential for capital to keep its side of that bargain breaks down, social-democracy is weakened, and conservative and reactionary ideas begin to take hold, for example with the rise of Thatcher and Reagan during those periods, or the rise of fascism in the 1920’s and 30’s.

        But, the gift of these bourgeois parliamentary democracies is clearly not just in the gift of the ruling class and its state. The 1905 Revolution, the Revolutions of 1848, illustrate that point. Of course, what they also show, is that unless the working-class actually is or becomes the ruling class, these parliaments can, and will sooner or later, be dissolved by the ruling class, or if not by them by something worse, as happened in 1848, and similarly in the 1920’s and 1930’s by fascists, when the opportunity arises, if those parliaments do not operate within the remit of social-democracy, i.e. of bargaining within the system, on the assumption that the accumulation of capital has primacy.

      • jlowrie Says:

        Arthur, you say, ” a real interest in how competing political forces propose it should be reorganized.”

        Well, I have a real interest in this too. My proposal is democracy. What’s yours?

        ‘ But I don’t expect to ever see “demonstrations demanding a referendum on the abolition of judges and their replacement by large juries…” and I don’t regard such suggestions as a serious contribution to discussion of “Models of Public Ownership”.’

        Okay, let’s suppose a socialist government in Brazil nationalises the land, forests, factories etc., bringing them into public ownership. The expropriated then turn to the bourgeois courts, where sit well-heeled judges who have investments in such expropriated enterprises. What rulings do you envisage they are going to hand down?

        ”Obviously I am from a parallel universe, ” Please then re-enter the universe of scientific socialism: is it really difficult to comprehend that courts with appointed judges are the gatekeepers of the sanctity of private property?

      • jlowrie Says:

        Boffy, while I agree for the most part with your analysis, I feel it is mistaken to assent to the bourgeoisie’s misappropriation of the meaning of democracy. If I were to designate the U.S. etc. in Greek, then I would call it an oligarchic despotism, not a liberal democracy; nor in fact did the framers of the American Constitution so designate it, but rather as a republic, and this was quite deliberate.

        Polybius, in accounting for the triumph of the Roman Empire over so much of the known world in so short a time, attributed Rome’s success to its 3 in 1 constitution, namely the 2 consuls ( the monarchic element), the Senate ( the oligarchic) and the various voting assemblies of the people ( the democratic ). This lent a stability to Roman society that was absent from the various Greek polities, where internal strife and class struggle between the rich and poor (stasis) prevented the Greeks from uniting to resist Rome.

        The American oligarchs quite deliberately copied this: the president and vice-president, the Senate on Capitol Hill etc.

        Remember at this point in history democracy was still dirty word. “From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy…consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischief of faction (i.e. stasis JL)……..Hence it is that such democracies…have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property…..
        A Republic, by which I mean a government in which a scheme of representation takes place…..

        The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic are: first, the delegation of the government in the latter to a small number of citizens elected by the rest..( ”The Federalist Papers Number X p126 of the Penguin Edition).

        As the 19th century proceeded the ruling classes discovered that with the rise of mass media no danger was normally posed to capitalist societies by the extension of the franchise to all citizens, and became quite happy to use democracy as an ideological cloak for their oligarchic republics.

  14. Socialism In One Bedroom Says:

    “Boffy, I doubt that many readers of this blog will dissent from what you say here. ”

    Lowrie, have you no knowledge of the entire history of the communist parties of the world? Most of them split on such questions and most have stayed apart because of them!!

    Socialist parties too split in a similar way, though much more decisive in their splits have been tolerating pro war and pro imperialist scumbags like Arthur.

    I mean seriously, if you engage with the likes of Arthur there can be zero hope for this class that acts for itself with its own interests, standing behind a party that is the memory of the class. Don’t make me laugh!

    Allowing the Arthurs of this world to pollute the movement with his murderous glorification of the interests of the ruling elite means the working class only ever stands behind the banner of nationalism.

    This is why you lot talk a good game but don’t never actually score any goals!

    • jlowrie Says:

      SIOB. “This is why you lot talk a good game but don’t never actually score any goals!” I think you may have scored an own goal here! I am not agreeing with Arthur but with two paragraphs, one from Boffy”I am not a statist, but neither am I an anarchist. We need to liberate ourselves as a class, and that means developing our own property forms, our own forms of self-government, based upon direct workers democracy, and we need to develop our own state organs to defend our property and democracy, via the creation of self-defence squads, a workers militia and so on, but moving forward to such developments itself will require that we do so by organising through a revolutionary workers party, that directs such activity, and acts as the memory of the class.”

      The other from Simon Clarke:”“The distinction between the Bolshevik and social democratic variants of state socialism should not be ignored, but it is more a matter of degree than of substance. The ‘degeneration’ of the Russian Revolution was not a matter of Lenin’s intolerance, nor of Trotsky’s militarism, nor of Stalin’s personality, nor of the economic backwardness nor of the relatively small size of the Russian working class, nor of the autocratic character of the Russian State, nor of the embattled position of the revolutionary regime, although all these factors played their part in determining the extent of the degeneration. The degeneration was already inherent in the class character of the revolution which underlay the statist conception of socialism which it adopted as its project.”

      If you personally SIOB disagree with them, please do so concretely.

      You further state: “Lowrie, have you no knowledge of the entire history of the communist parties of the world? Most of them split on such questions and most have stayed apart because of them!!”

      I have just stated: ”the sad facts of the matter are that history demonstrates that the vast majority of so-called marxist parties disavowed all revolutionary ideals, and even the few which finally triumphed eventually took the road back to capitalism.”

      My solution to this is democracy in its original meaning. If you have other solutions, I should be glad to hear of them.

  15. ucanbpolitical Says:

    I suggest you read my posting on consumer led planning which details the relationship between the state and the post-revolutionary economy. I contend that the Bolshevik party never understood the distinction between the state setting up administrative bodies to execute workers’ rights and the state running them. In the first phase of a communist society based on equal rights in a class with inherited inequalities, the objective price system rewards collective effort, the right to receive in proportion to contribution rewards individual effort, the right to decide what is produced (consumer led planning) and the right to collectively agree both the amount and the disposition of the deductions from the social product belong to the freely associating producers. They are not in the purview of the state. All the state does is to police these rights and prevent them being subverted.
    https://theplanningmotivedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/comprehensive-planning-article-pdf.pdf

    • jlowrie Says:

      Thank you for drawing attention to this thoughtful and indeed thought -provoking article. Hopefully, others more proficient in matters of economic planning will address some of the interesting questions you raise in regard to that.

      You say, ”Bourgeois democracy is therefore a shallow and restricted form of democracy. ” No so-called ‘bourgeois democracy’ is not any type of democracy; it is rather a restricted form of oligarchy. The fact that citizens are able in such an oligarchy to exercise the right to vote does not confer on them any power whatsoever.It is to accede to bourgeois ideology to identify the exercise of voting with the exercise of power.

      Let us recall the original meanings of democracy and oligarchy. Aristotle points out that it is quite inadequate to define democracy as the rule/power (i.e. kratos) of the majority and oligarchy as the rule of the few. Rather, democracy is the rule of the poor i.e. the unpropertied and oligarchy the rule of the rich. Normally the poor are the majority and the rich the few or minority. He further points out that selection of government in a democracy is done by lot, while in an oligarchy it is done by election. Why? because an election will almost always be won by the rich thanks to the vast sums of money available to them for propaganda and bribing. Think of the Russian election of 1996, which Yeltsin still managed to ‘win’ despite having a popularity rating in single figures.

    • jlowrie Says:

      ”Many of our dreamers who also call themselves Marxists, such as found in the Socialist Party and SWP, confuse the purpose of the pricing system with the purpose of workers’ rights. They incorrectly assume that prices will fall so far as to become free, and being free, any workers’ contribution to production is now irrelevant. Everybody can help themselves to most of the output of society because it is free and therefore cannot be measured. Thus, this treasure trove marks the ascent to a communist society, where contribution and need no longer clash.”

      I agree. ”To each according to their needs” can only mean socially determined need, not individually identified wants, which would result in anarchy, and render social planning impossible.

  16. jlowrie Says:

    ”At first sight, weighted average labour times seems so simple. But for labour time to become real, and commensurate, it has to become universal, and for it to become universal, the same intensity of labour must apply within a plant, between the plants occupying an industry, between industries and between countries.”

    I am afraid I cannot get my head round this. Does it mean that the same intensity of the labour of logging must prevail in both the Siberian forest and the Amazonian jungle? How could this be effected in countries and indeed areas of large countries that demonstrate such varying climatic conditions?

    Anyway, I will certainly study your proposals with greater intensity!

    • ucanbpolitical Says:

      Intensity is the pace of work. It should be calculated from the time work starts. There is no reason there should be no seasonal or regional adjustments. Working in high humidity as you say is more taxing than in temperate conditions. But let us not get into too much detail and leave this to future generations. The point is homogenising the expenditure of labour power in order to make it commensurable which is the pre-condition for the emergence of universal labour time and hence the basis for costing the plan.

  17. Arthur Says:

    I don’t think it would be productive to respond further on demonstrations demanding referenda in Brazil. Discussion in a Brazilian blog might be more productive, especially if and in portuguese. Could not resist that last but do seriously mean I won’t contribute further to what can only be a distraction from the intended topic “Models of Public Ownership”.

    Although I don’t agree with much in the “Comprehensive Planning” article it is certainly far more related to the topic and I would rather not distract from discussion of that.

    Have only done a quick preliminary read so far. Main comment concerns the “state of emergency”. To me that should be the focus of discussion – the historical epoch of transition in which there is still classes and class struggle nationally and internationally. I see no reason to expect that to be brief and do not believe anybody’s current speculations about how things should be organized after that “emergency” could possibly be of much interest to the people that will actually be experiencing the future issues.

    If there is another Great Depression in the next decade or so the issues will be how to deal with mass unemployment and raising the developing countries to the level of the advanced countries. I cannot imagine any working class anywhere putting up with the proposals for allocation of labor by “planners”. That would be rightly seen as a regression from wage labour. The unemployed will want jobs, with wages. That does imply bourgeois right and indeed a bourgeois state as employer, as Lenin rightly spelled out. That obviously leaves open a road back to capitalist rule. Hence a long period of struggle. Skipping over that “emergency” by simply proclaiming “principles” doesn’t get one far.

    But at least it is thinking about issues concerning transition, which is a vast improvement on not doing so at all. So I hope discussion continues and hope to find time to join in.

    • jlowrie Says:

      ”and hope to find time to join in.” Frightfully pleased!

      • jlowrie Says:

        ” key task remains the industrialization of the third world (including electrification and toilets in Africa”

        In the parallel universe that Arthur admits to inhabiting, the news has evidently not penetrated that Cape Town is about to run out of water. Consequently the conservation measure necessary is rather to end flush toilets for the rich.

        What is to be done to to combat the privatisation of humanity’s water resources? I read in the news that the Guarani aquifer in South America, the continent’s largest and the second largest in the world, is to be privatised and handed over to Nestle and Coca Cola on a hundred year lease. So if the citizens of the continent lack fresh water to drink Nestle can tell them: ‘Let them drink Coke!’

        The people of Brazil will of course take to the streets to oppose such privatisation,which is being pushed by ‘their’ president, Temer. But of course the president and co. will just ignore them. That is why I propose that in their demonstrations the people should be demanding that the privatisation of their water be put to a referendum. If such is refused, then at least the oligarchic and anti-democratic nature of Brazilian society will be further exposed.

        ”I don’t think it would be productive to respond further on demonstrations demanding referenda in Brazil.” Please accept my gratitude for that!

      • Arthur Says:

        I don’t think it would be productive to discuss a world view that considers it necessary to “end flush toilets for the rich”.
        Please express your gratitude here:
        https://www.health24.com/News/Public-Health/countries-with-the-worst-access-to-toilets-in-2015-20151119

    • jlowrie Says:

      Okay, so the rich can continue with their flush toilets while the poor queue to get potable water: to each according to their needs, eh?

      The hard facts of the matter are that already some parts of the world are running out of fresh water. This will demand strict rationing. Over this problem socialists cannot hide their head in the sand or in your case down the toilet!!

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