The Crisis and Socialist Strategy (Part 2)

red wedgeIn the second of a two part essay, Ed Rooksby sketches some broad strategic principles for a radical left party.

 In the first part of this essay I argued that the current crisis must be seen as a systemic crisis of capitalism which is rooted in an underlying structural problem of low profitability. I also suggested that while a classically ‘Keynesian’ policy of public spending is necessary to drag the economy out of stagnation in the short term – to get people back to work and to reverse the current decline in living standards for ordinary people – this could not work as a longer term solution. This is for two reasons. First, such a strategy would do nothing to tackle the underlying problem of capitalist profitability. What capitalism really needs in order to get back to ‘healthy’ rates of growth is large-scale destruction of overaccumulated capital and, alongside this, further squeezes on wages – in other words it requires a major slump and deterioration in living standards for the majority in order to recover. It is hard to think of a better illustration of the deeply dysfunctional nature of this system. The second reason, as we saw, is that even if it were possible to get back to ‘normal’ rates of growth in some relatively painless way, capitalism’s logic of infinite accumulation and perpetual growth is clearly incompatible with ecological sustainability. The left, then, needs a strategy that combines ‘Keynesian’ measures in the short term but in which those measures are combined with other reforms which generate a transformative socialist dynamic.

The Classic Strategic Dilemma

Of course here we start to encroach on one of the oldest controversies in socialist thought which is the question of whether or not it is possible to reform capitalism out of existence – the classic reform/revolution debate. Let me draw out (in what can’t be anything other than a very simplified way given constraints of space) the core problems with each of these approaches as they are usually conceived in order to provide the foundations for a different way of approaching the question of socialist strategy.

At the heart of the reformist approach is the idea that the process of transition to socialism can be a wholly evolutionary one of smooth, piecemeal change without the necessity for any kind of revolutionary break. The core problem (among others) for this strategy is that when reformists find themselves in power they also find themselves responsible for the management of a capitalist economy. Since radical measures aimed at the introduction of socialism must, by definition, endanger capitalist profit, reformist governments find themselves caught on the horns of an impossible dilemma; they require capitalist cooperation for a process of gradual transition to socialism, and yet the introduction of any measure which might lead very far in the direction of socialism would necessarily lose them the cooperation (and earn them the intense hostility) of capital. So, in opposition to reformism it must be insisted that the transition to socialism cannot be a wholly gradual, cumulative process, but must involve some kind of revolutionary break.

Another key problem with this strategy is that the structure of traditional reformist parties tends to internalise and reflect the top-down structure – active representative minority and passive electorate mass – of capitalist democracy. Reformist parties tend to focus purely on electoral activity and are suspicious if not downright hostile to extra-parliamentary forms of political activity such as strikes and demonstrations. In this way the organisational culture and practice of reformist parties demobilises the mass of people. Since socialist change must necessarily involve the active participation of the majority in the reconstitution of social relations, mass demobilisation has the effect of helping to preserve the status quo.

The revolutionary socialist approach avoids the core problems of reformism but, as it is traditionally conceived, has its own particular deficiencies. Again, I can’t outline all of these here, so will focus on the main difficulty.

In one important sense at least, there is no absolute dividing line between a strategy of reform and traditional revolutionary socialism. Most revolutionaries believe that the struggle for and winning of reforms increases the democratic capacities of the working class, raises its confidence and educates it politically. Furthermore, many revolutionaries (see for example Alex Callinicos’ An Anti-Capitalist Manifesto) appear to believe that socialist revolution is most likely to emerge out of a (frustrated) movement for reform which probes the limits of what the capitalist state is willing to concede and which spills over into something more far-reaching  – and so, to this end, the strategy is to seek to place demands on the state which can tip the balance of power in favour of the working class and popular forces. The defining feature of revolutionary socialism as it is usually conceived, however, is the view that socialists must remain strictly independent of the capitalist state rather than seeking to work within it. This, however, is where the strategy runs into a major problem. The first part of this problem is that in countries such as Britain with a long established tradition of liberal parliamentary democracy and, indeed, a long established tradition of reformism in the labour movement, it is very difficult to see how the process of mass radicalisation the revolutionary approach envisages would not find expression in the electoral rise of a party seeking to form a radical government within the capitalist state. That is, it is hard to see this process of radicalisation throwing up anything other than a movement committed to the formation of a ‘workers’ government’. This indeed is the way things appear to be working out in Greece. As Richard Seymour has pointed out it was only after Syriza clearly committed itself to the aim of forming a united government of the left that it became the major radical challenge to austerity in Greece that it is today.

The second part of this problem is that it is also very hard to see how the sort of transitional strategy of reforms revolutionaries want to pressure the state to enact would be implemented by government representatives reluctant to do so, let alone deeply opposed to them politically and ideologically. Some concessions could be wrested from a pro-capitalist government, yes – but a whole series of radical reforms that seriously undermine the power of capital? It seems unlikely. The major difficulty in the traditional revolutionary approach, then, is in its rejection of the very idea of taking power within the political structures of capitalism.

Kagarlitsky – the Dialectic of Change

So neither the traditional reformist approach, nor the traditional revolutionary strategy, seems adequate. We need, instead, a strategy that seeks to combine elements of both. In his book, The Dialectic of Change, the Russian theorist Boris Kagarlitsky seeks to elaborate just such an approach – a strategy for revolutionary change which centres on a process of preparatory reform.  Revolutionary transformation, he argues, can only emerge organically and dialectically from a process of radical reform set in motion by a socialist government. He calls this approach ‘revolutionary reformism’.

Kagarlitsky’s argument is based on the premise that ‘Marxism is not an ideology of revolution but a theory of social development’.  In Kagarlitsky’s view, Marx sees an organic, dialectical unity between reform and revolution in the process of social change. It is only when one grasps the idea that reform and revolution augment and condition each other that one can start to formulate a realistic strategy of socialist change.

Kagarlitsky suggests that revolution should be ‘conceived as a definite and necessary stage, a qualitative leap, in the process of reform’ – ‘revolution is a “break in gradualness”, a leap in development’.  It is a stage of development which is necessary for the consolidation of the changes – new socialist social relations – which can be brought into being (in some embryonic sense at least) within capitalist society through reform.

Clearly, not all reforms intertwine organically with revolutionary change. Kagarlitsky’s favoured strategy of reform is based on a passage from The Communist Manifesto where Marx and Engels write of the implementation of a series of reforms which may:

“appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionizing the mode of production.”

Marx and Engels indicate that the introduction of reforms which run counter to the logic of capitalism (and which therefore appear in themselves ‘economically insufficient and untenable’) may set in motion a self-powering dynamic of cumulative change – a kind of chain reaction. That is, these initial reforms destabilise capitalism and therefore necessitate the implementation of further reforms which themselves run counter to capitalist logic and, in turn, require and stimulate further changes and so on. It is in this sense that these reforms ‘outstrip themselves’ – they unleash a process of change which goes much further than the initial effects of the primary reforms themselves. Kagarlitsky believes that the dynamic of cumulative change Marx and Engels sketch out here provides the basis for a strategy of radical reform today.

How could such a process be set in motion? It is the manner in which reforms are implemented which is the crucial factor for Kagarlitsky. Firstly, he suggests that each reform must be designed to stimulate further reforms which will flow from it organically. Each reform must be designed to generate a kind of momentum which drives forward an unfolding series of further changes. This demands that each reform is integrated into a well-planned strategic programme. The movement driving forward these reforms must be careful to regard each reform, primarily, as a means to the desired end of socialism, rather than as an end in itself.

Secondly, Kagarlitsky stresses that these reforms must be driven forward by a movement which unites mass mobilisation ‘from below’ with pressure ‘from above’ as revolutionary reformist politicians work within state institutions. Revolutionary reformists within state institutions must be subjected to constant pressure from below – there must be a mass socialist movement outside these institutions, capable of controlling their representatives and of forcing them on to implement the reforms they have promised. This implies that the mass movement must possess substantial independence from politicians in state office. Furthermore, ‘revolutionary reforms’ must be designed to strengthen and empower this movement. The extension of popular democracy would contribute to the revolutionary reformist dynamic in which each reform ‘outstrips itself’. Socialist representatives are driven on to introduce reforms, which contribute to the deepening of mass democracy which, in turn, encourages the mass movement to put pressure on their leaders for still further changes and so on.

Transitional Programme

What reforms, more concretely, might a transitional programme include? Much would depend on the specific circumstances in which such a programme came onto the immediate political agenda. But a few ideas can be suggested.

A socialist economic strategy might begin in its initial stage with an ambitious programme of directed investment. This spending should be carefully and strategically targeted – investment would be designed to kick-start more sustainable growth, create jobs and to reorient the economy away from its excessive reliance on the financial sector and debt-fuelled consumption toward more productive economic activity. Priority areas for investment should include investment in green, low-carbon infrastructure – particularly in transport and in energy. A major scheme to make existing homes and businesses more energy efficient would also generate considerable employment and help to reduce the national carbon footprint still further. In addition, a publically funded project to build new, affordable and energy efficient houses would create still more jobs.

Further, government policy should include a strategy for the managed downsizing of the financial sector. The authors of the ‘Green New Deal’ have put forward some useful ideas in this respect.  They suggest, for example, that tighter controls on lending and credit creation are introduced. This might include the reintroduction of stringent ‘fractional reserve requirements’ on private banks. They propose the forced demerger of large banking and financial groups and (bound up with this) the separation of retail from investment banks. They suggest that all derivative products and other exotic financial instruments should be subjected to strict regulation – only products approved by government would be allowed to be traded. Further, they argue for the imposition of robust capital controls to allow the state to exert control over the national inflow and outflow of capital and thus restore some measure of ‘policy autonomy to democratic government’  in the face of otherwise destabilising international  financial movements. Coupled with the channelling of investment – perhaps via a National Investment Bank – into manufacturing production and research and development, measures like these would help to rebalance and restructure the economy away from over-reliance on the financial sector.

Radicalisation of the process of reform might throw up further measures including nationalisation of major banks and financial institutions under democratic control and the bringing into public ownership under democratic control, too, of a string of industrial firms. Taking a large proportion of the financial sector into public ownership would allow financial resources to be allocated according to social and environmental criteria. Similarly, the nationalisation of industrial firms would allow their activities to be oriented increasingly towards socially useful and environmentally sustainable production. Furthermore the bringing into public ownership of much of the heavy manufacturing and engineering sector would help to facilitate the major, coordinated industrial restructuring and research and development investment that would be necessary for the design and construction of a green national energy infrastructure.

Radical forms of collective democratic planning and management could be explored within nationalised firms. Democratic control at the level of the firm would be integrated into a wider, national system of democratic planning. Broad, strategic macro-economic parameters might be decided at the national level – perhaps on the basis of a series of alternative plans drawn up by planning experts which could then be voted on by the population as a whole or by democratically elected national representatives. Within these established overall guidelines the details of the national plan could then be progressively filled out on a decentralised basis – at a regional and local level, and also at an industrial sector and production unit level – on the basis of democratic deliberation, negotiation and majority voting. Of course, democratic planning and control should not be confined to the narrowly ‘economic’ sector. The entirety of the public sector – the education system, welfare system, NHS and so on – should be opened up to collective, democratic and participatory forms of management.

It is worth pointing out that, of course, such a strategy would depend for its success on the existence of friends and allies implementing similar processes of transformation abroad. Certainly a country attempting to go it alone with such a strategy would – at least beyond a certain point – find itself hopelessly isolated in the face of hugely powerful international economic and political forces. But as we’ve seen with the ‘Syriza effect’ currently – the process in which the rise of the radical left in Greece has kick-started moves toward political realignment and fresh thinking on the left elsewhere – the emergence of a radical left government in one part of the world is likely to provide a boost to similar movements elsewhere.

Of course, such a strategy raises its own problems. In particular some would object that it doesn’t really overcome the problems of classical reformism. Such a left government would certainly arouse the intense hostility of capital and would come under huge pressure to reverse its programme from day one. This pressure would only increase as the radical dynamic of any transitional programme gathered momentum – if, indeed, it did. But the argument I developed above is that there doesn’t seem to be any plausible alternative strategic approach. It is hard to see how the left in Europe can avoid the problem of taking power in a left government if it is serious about changing society. Indeed, much of the contemporary left’s thought in relation to strategy often seems to me, precisely, to be an exercise in avoidance – dancing around the question of government power.

All of the above might seem like an idle exercise in building castles in the air. Certainly in Britain we are as far as ever from a political situation in which the elaboration of a transitional programme becomes an immediate concern – though for the left in Greece it is certainly a pressing priority. Nevertheless the process of left realignment in the UK associated with Left Unity does raise broad questions in relation to strategic orientation alongside all the more immediate tactical considerations. Certainly, if Left Unity grows these broader questions will have to be addressed. Further, the on-going deep crisis of capitalism internationally and the processes of political radicalisation this will continue to drive will keep throwing up big questions of strategy that cannot be avoided.


17 comments

17 responses to “The Crisis and Socialist Strategy (Part 2)”

  1. Dave Proudlove says:

    Ed: I think your thoughts in the second section of the essay (the Transitional Programme) are spot on, and mirror some of the areas i have thought about myself; its good to see things articulated so well!

  2. John Penney says:

    An excellent analysis, Ed, articulating I suspect what a lot of us have been pondering re a radical Left programme which escapes from the straightjacket of, on the one side, dead end reformism, and on the other, empty revolutionery posturing.

    Can I say though that although I, as an ancient old ex-Trot, am very familiar with “Marxist” concepts, like the “Dialectic” which you use to develop your well argued points, resorting to the usage of what to most people is completely arcane, incomprehensible “Leftie jargon” , when there are more common or garden ways to describe the processes described, is something we are all going to have to get used to if we are to break out of the mindsets and ” exclusive special language codes” of the Left and relate to masses of ordinary people with inclusive everyday language.

    I’m not having a snide dig – I think your article is really excellent – but its an issue I think we’ll all have to get to grips with as soon as possible. In fact , given that in my and many other socialists’ view “dialectical materialism” is actually a complete load of old hokum , pinched by Engels from Hegel’s philosophy to “sex up” marxist theory with a bit of pseudo profound mumbo jumbo, and NEVER ever anywhere referred to by Marx himself, I propose a ban in Left Unity on the usage of the term at all !

    • Dave Proudlove says:

      I agree John. If we want to represent and fight for ordinary people, and gain their understanding and support, we need to communicate in language that they will understand (hope that doesn’t come across as condescending). And yes, this isn’t a dig at Ed and his excellent piece.

    • Neil says:

      A good analysis of reformism vs revolutionary transition Ed, however the way it is framed largely presupposes a leftist party in office facing that choice. As you yourself admit though it appears that we are miles away from that (though in times of crisis radical shifts can happen very quickly and unexpectedly). Although the notion of a transitional policy programme might be useful for political campaigning and mobilisation, I think it would be more useful at this moment to focus on the strategic problem of building a mass movement and a new political party to at least get to the point of threatening to take power.

      If we don’t theorise about the present conjuncture and how to develop a strong viable movement then I fear that LU would probably just be ‘building castles in the air’ – a brief moment of ineffectual nostalgic ‘workerist’ resistance before the political class decide to don their jackboots, dismember the remnants of civil liberties, and ramp up surveillance and media propaganda, thereby rendering a non-violent and democratic path to a leftist revival virtually impossible (which, behind the rhetorical tributes to MT, I hear the Tories itching to do – and of course Labour would follow).

    • oskarsdrum says:

      You’re right John P. One major part of socialist strategy has to be adapting the left’s culture to the working class as it is now, and not trying to do vice versa! We could well do with a moratorium on ‘dialectic’ and associated vocabulary, time and time again I’ve heard people throw it in as a supposed clincher when actually they don’t know what they’re talking about. Highly aggravating.

      Not that Ed is doing this, of course – I do think that there is a useful sense of ‘dialectics’ in understanding a complex web of interacting causal factors. Maybe terms like ‘dynamic’, ‘interrelationship’, ‘interdependent’….would be better, if there really isn’t any way to simplify things.

      At the same time there’s a baby in all that mucky bathwater I think – we do need specialized terminology of some sort to engage in serious social theory. Just as doctors, physicists, planners or whoever do. However the communication should always be audience-appropriate, and used to clarify not obscusciate: amongst many Marxist sub-cultures (Trotskyism being a prime example) that kind of jargon functions as an emotional comfort blanket in a tough world and, worse, as a means of browbeating anyone raising an awkward question.

      We’ll definitely never be taken seriously by most people if we don’t learn some quick lessons in this area, but on the other hand, we do need to keep a shared vocabulary for trying to understand (and so change!) the extraordinary complexity of capitalist societies.

  3. John Keeley says:

    The whole thrust of the essay appears to be that there’s no real alternative to reformism, but a Left Unity government can take power, run capitalism, implement reforms & eventually lead a revolution, if they chose the right reforms.

    Dream on!

    There is an alternative. It is to build an alternative system alongside an alternative political party. An alternative system based upon direct democracy.

    This is much more realistic today now we have the internet. Have a look at the structure of the IOPS website (http://www.iopsociety.org/). Direct democracy is everyone at say parish level having an equal say in decision-making (IOPS talks about ‘chapters’). All those things that can be decided upon at parish level (even street level in some cases) can be decided by the people affected. For things that affect a wider group, say town(or constituency) level, all parishes have a say or send delegates to a town council. This then widens out to broader geographical spaces: county, region, country, groups of countries & world level. We can build this democracy today, either through IOPS or some other alternative site. We could even do it on Facebook as The Commune have done (see local communes http://thecommune.co.uk/contacts-links/). The idea is to build on-line Soviets for the 21st Century. This has to be on an international basis. With enough people involved they then become the new institutions of a post-capitalist society. The professional politicians, including any elected Left Unity egos, get made redundant.

    Without embracing the building of direct democracy & focusing on purely electoral politics you consign the revolution to failure, as another group of elected politicians get corrupted by power. A classless society requires there to be no political class, not even a well-meaning one under the Left Unity banner.

    • John Penney says:

      ” Build an alternative system… based on direct democracy … Online Soviets “. hmmmm.. dont really get that, John Keeley. Sounds like empty , “I can change the world from my bedroom computer “, pseudo radicalism to me.

      The rather fundamental fact we face is that of political and social POWER, and the directly related issue of funding allocation – all in the hands currently of the capitalist class and their Westminster political representatives. This means that , other than trying to ignore tax-based state funding altogether – (a bit difficult if one wants to run local libraries, health centres, swimming pools , old folks homes, etc, etc, etc), If we want to change the way resources and wealth generally is allocated in the UK we have to operate in part at least via the political processes currently in play. Particularly at local parish and local government area levels the major allocations of cash are decided by central government. There is no significant independent political power or access to tax-based cash resources nowadays at local government levels. This means that , as the Greens found in Brighton, and Militant found in Liverpool in the 1980’s, there can be no “socialism in one town or county”. Try to “play by the rules” purely at local electoral level, and currently you end up simply administering ever greater cuts on behalf of the bosses and their political placemen.

      Your “on line soviets” are simply a fantasy for “Sim City” virtual reality fans. We have to operate in the real world, using the internet certainly , but to mobilise real people to agitate, organise, and build political alternatives out in the real world.

      Ed Rooksby’s article very ably tackles the key issues a radical Left movement faces in trying to carry out real social transformation – and in no way is a “purely electoral” strategy.

      • John Keeley says:

        John Penny,

        I recommend you go to an IOPS meeting & see direct democracy in action.
        They do get out of their bedrooms, & they are a very tolerant lot, much more open to diverse strategies than the traditional left.
        They don’t tend to sneer either.

        Regards.

    • julie forshaw says:

      in total agreement with john keeley. direct democracy is the way to go i am already spotting left unity ego happening we will just end up with the same problems as the rest of the political parties and will have another pyramid structure. we need to work out a way for left unity to work in a fresh and new way from the bottom up.

  4. oskarsdrum says:

    Yes good stuff Ed! Some important questions tackled here. I think the green investment issue is the key to a transformational economic vision. A few points –

    It’d be good to this tackled in a longer form sometime. Especially the economic dynamics of transition/transformation – presumably an extreme and acute crisis would arrive fairly soon after pursuing such policies, in what circumstances could we expect to win the confrontation that would follow? How would we know whether it’s better to postpone the fight?

    Related to this, maybe we need a much more serious attempt to coordinate internationally. Can austerity be defeated without several worker’s governments (however defined!) coordinating radical alternatives? Possibly Germany or France could with their industrial base, I don’t know, but in Britain any kind of escape from neoliberalism would presumably depend on the world market for years to come.

    Then there’s the problem of bureaucratization in large-scale working class organisation (political and economic) – all the moreso if elections and participation in state apparatus are under consideration. I don’t think the danger of this can be overstated, how can new organisational forms build in a resistance to unaccountable hierarchy from their inception? what would accountable, minimally-bureaucratic forms look like? How can we escape the perennial charisma temptation?

    To answer a couple of points above, I don’t agree at all that this sort of thinking is a luxury or self-aggrandizement at this early this. The reason being that if we don’t have a clear picture of where we do and don’t hope to be heading then we’ll be in very poor position to avoid the pitfalls experienced by countless other promising left movements. Participating as a minority partner in local or national executive coalition for example, seems enormously tempting the first time the opportunity presents itself. But fro Brighton to Italy to Brazil it seems to be a guaranteed kiss of death. Similarly building a healthy vitality of democratic culture – never too soon to start that! And last, it’s better and more convincing to have an idea of what we’re fighting for that’s more specific than just opposing the existing parties, or some ill-defined “revolutionary socialism”.

    What about a left unity suggested reading list on strategy?

    This Bensaid piece is terrific on a few of these matters – http://www.marxists.org/archive/bensaid/2006/08/polstrat.htm . There must be loads of others to draw on, this year’s Socialist Register special strategy issue for example. what else?

  5. Martin says:

    I enjoyed that article and agree with much of what was argued..
    A little surprised that you didn’t touch upon the ‘material conditions’ of the broad mass of people. I strongly believe that as opposed to the relative material conditions of a populace, it’s always the degree to which the material expectations have gone into decline, for how long and whether light can be glimpsed at the end of the tunnel…that determines how receptive to ‘reformist’, (in the first instance) movement the masses are… This is not to detract from the task of building a party, but rather to understand those windows of opportunity for spurts of activity that come about only periodically

  6. Guy Harper says:

    Fantastic article and the basis of a strategy that I hope Left Unity will one day adopt.

    More important than measuring the distance we are from this sort of radial change in the UK is for me the task of laying out the blueprint for a viable alternative. The concept of an alternative is utterly absent from mainstream thought and presenting such an alternative in an accessible manner is the most important step towards change.

  7. Ray M says:

    Thanks for a really thoughtful stab at solving this dilemma.

    A main danger seems to be the possible imbalance between the electoral progress and the mass, extra-parliamentary movement. In a period of lots of defensive struggles, a left party can garner a huge amount of popular electoral support. People vote for it so that it can introduce ‘socialism’ FOR them. The left party is then thrust into a position of responsibility and inevitably managing capitalism and taking necessary measures to allow it to function. This can happen in merely local elections also. Alternatively they try to take explicitly anti-capitalist measures which then result in an economic assault from the ruling class, and if they don’t surrender, are brought down by armed force. Passive electoral support is not enough to sustain such a left government.

    If you are in a room with a tiger, don’t poke it with a stick unless you are able to kill it. It is vital to avoid this situation. A real mass action movement needs to be built which can then lift an electoral party to power with a real active popular base, willing to defend it. It may be necessary to not take power electorally until the movement is strong and reliable behind you.

    Just a few thoughts – but thanks again.

    • oskarsdrum says:

      Yes exactly. it’s absolutely critical to be clear from the start that the aim is in no way simply to capture the top of the state (national or local) and expect to be able to achieve anything through implenting better policies. Important as electoral politics are as a part of the struggle, we need an understanding of left councillors and MPs as organisers and not, for the foreseeable future, as legislators.

      On the other hand, we should be developing a serious green social democratic policy agenda to campaign around, and to flesh out a meaningful transitional politics.

    • Norma McCarten says:

      I have read with interest the contributions here in response to Ed’s piece.
      The Capitalists live on unearned income – they cannot actually run a country, we let them do so. Most of these invisible money manipulators cannot do anything. They talk of investments contributing to our pensions, well as far as I can see they either do not contribute sufficiently or they are stolen before we get them. They bet on food prices and everything else that the true wealth creators grow and make, a bunch of glorified bookies.
      For a refreshing change of scene perhaps, as I live in an extremely rural and beautiful part of Wales,I would ask people to simply think about our real wealth and environment creators. We are a small community here so we feel their expertise more directly perhaps than urban folk, in fact we see them most days going to work or at work:
      Just sit back and really think about these activities and that perhaps we should consult them about the way forward without destroying the planet. These people actually make things Food preparation people and Cooks, Building workers at all stages of work, Sewage and waste disposal workers, Water workers and underground maintenance staff, Train Drivers, Bus drivers, Road planners and maintenance workers especially in Ice Snow or flood conditions.
      Engineers, Scientists, Doctors Nurses, Rmergency, Support and Ancilliary workers. Power workers and all Technical support staff.
      Teachers.Academics, Scientists, conservation workers.
      Artists, Actors, film makers, fashion designers.
      Fabric makers, shoe makers, boots and weather proof clothing.
      Not a comprehensive list but they all exist here in Gwynedd not in China or India – although i have enourmous respect for the people in those countries trying to earn a living too. Our unemployment is their opportunity. Not for their good tho’ only so that they can be paid less and we have no power to act. I’m sure you can think of more. Why? Because these people actually do run this country. The tokens we exchange simply reflect their work. If we need to borrow these tokens from elsewhere it is because not enough of us are engaged in truly productive activities.
      All respect to those in support sectors too – these are the experts we need to consult.
      Lets try from a different perspective – or from the spirit of post war Britain because that is what I have just described. One thing we did learn in Wales tho’, don’t group expertise abnd work in one area, your a sitting duck. spread it around there are no benefits to economies of scale except to the capitalists. Schumacher had it right in Small is Beatiful The biggest recipients of ‘welfare’ are the international capitalists who expect a healthy literate, housed population with benefits to subsidise their low pay and a safety net to catch them when they are disposed of,to function their piecemeal products.

  8. Norma McCarten says:

    Must just add to my post yesterday that my spelling and etc was very poor because I was so keen to say what I was thinking – will try harder!

    I also missed off Farmers on my list, the disconnect between the citizens of towns and cities and their food supply is almost absolute. This enables capitalists to perpetrate all kinds of unpleasantness on humans, animals and our soil alike.

    This disconnect also includes energy generation. The primary concerns of any elected government must be the protection of it’s citizens and yet our power supplies are from elsewhere, often unaffordable, very unstable and unreliable environments.

    The ‘dissing’ of off shore wind farms and other alternative power scources is part of this power scaremongering. We need to consult the actual power workers and research and development and distribution workers. we are certainly not getting the truth from the major privatised power suppliers.

    In addition the technology of downloads and ipads and phones must be a major part of our knowledge building. The minerals and other manufacturing processes are enslaving other workers and polluting the planet – why do we need these items? Can any of us repair them? Yes instant communication is good, great news about small groups of isolated workers in Africa, uprisings etc – it can be turned off tho’ Do any of us know how to do that or fix that?

    Food, water, power, communication, transport, housing all outside our control or input – I believe that the practicalities of life must be returned to us for work, security and safety.
    I’ll stop now as I feel as if i’ve been ranting! Remember the Luddites were not against progress they just wanted to know what they would do for a living when their work was taken away by machines. What will we do when we find all our life support systems have been taken away and we have been given an iphone to play with?

  9. Ed Lewis says:

    Ed, sorry – I don’t quite get how the transitional programme you sketch reflects the account of revolutionary reformism you give. The key to that strategy is reforms that have a radicalising dynamic – they organically lead to further, more radical reforms. But you haven’t shown (clearly enough for me at any rate) that your proposed set of reforms would have such a dynamic, which leaves your proposals ultimately looking just like classical reformism.

    I liked the piece otherwise. So clarification on this point would be very helpful!


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