[OPE-L:2488] Re: Copy of Hugo's paper

From: nicola taylor (nmtaylor@carmen.murdoch.edu.au)
Date: Sat Mar 04 2000 - 16:07:41 EST

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At 04:47 5/03/00 +0800, you wrote:
>In case the rtf version also didn't work for you, heres the e-mail
>copy of Hugo's paper unencoded

Conference: 'The World Crisis of Capitalism and the Post-Soviet States',
Moscow October 30th - November 1st 1999


Hugo Radice

        Whatever disagreements there may be about the past, present and future of
the former Soviet bloc states, the political analyses and prognoses on
offer are typically national in their focus. This reflects one of the most
powerful legacies of twentieth-century political and economic thinking:
the theory of 'socialism in one country' which triumphed in the USSR in the
1920s was joined by the post-Depression Keynesian theory of capitalism in
one country in the 1940s, and the post-colonial theories of national
liberation and national development in the 1960s. Despite all the warning
signals which could be read in the theories and practices of socialism in
the 19th century, it seems that socialists in our own century have been
wedded to the belief that 'real politics' - the politics of electoral and
societal struggle over governments, regimes and policies - was inevitably
national in scope. We have paid lip-service to the ideal of
internationalism, and we have recognised the constraints that have been
imposed on nations and states by external agencies; but for all the
rhetoric of proletarian brotherhood and anti-imperialist struggle, we have
regarded the nation-state as the central focus of politics. As a result,
socialist goals have almost always been expressed in national terms, and
socialists have found themselves mired in unending and fruitless debates
about 'the national question'.

        I think that one of the must urgent tasks we face now is to escape from
this intellectual and political prison of our own making: to forge a
politics that is global in scope, and thereby to return to the
universalism so eloquently expressed in the Communist Manifesto. But in
order to do so, we have to examine the foundations of our understanding of
capitalism. Clearly, one essential aim must be to reappraise the global
character of capitalism, to see whether there is (to use the time-honoured
term) a material basis for international socialism - in what ways
capitalist accumulation, reproduction and regulation are now intrinsically

        However, there is a second component in socialist thinking which requires
just as drastic a rethink, and that is labour. Of course, we all accept
the alienation of labour as a central feature of capitalism, and analyses
of the labour process, the exploitation of labour, labour markets and
labour organization have been major concerns for the left everywhere. Yet
connecting these concerns of socialist analysis and struggle to a
conception of socialism - not to mention a strategy for arriving there -
has never been easy. We have argued ourselves sick about the appropriate
ways for the working class to organize politically - or more realistically,
for socialist intellectuals to organise the working class; about the
limitations of syndicalism or of social democracy, reform or revolution.
We know that 'the working class', wage-labour, is deeply divided,
spatially, sectorally, by status and income and occupation, and so we have
tried to identify common interests which can 'unite' it. But serious
attempts to envisage how labour itself could be reshaped have remained on
the fringe of socialist thought and practice, often - as in the case of
self-management - dismissed as utopian or premature or even diversionary.
Thus, for many, many decades until the 1970s no-one paid much attention to
Marx's meticulous analysis of production and work in Capital, instead
debating obsessively his much more sketchy modelling of macroeconomic
balances and of price formation (the 'transformation problem', the 'theory
of crisis', etc.).
        These two issues - globalization and labour - turn out, I shall argue, to
be very intimately related. They are related because the 'globalization of
capital' is the globalization of labour, of capitalism's material and
social relations, of accumulation, class formation and the state; hence
socialist politics has to be intrinsically global. But in addition, once
we focus on the multiple divisions of labour, we see that only a determined
challenge to those divisions can establish a universalist framework for
socialist politics.

Globalization and the political economy of 'transition'

        Globalization has become a hot topic among intellectuals, politicians and
capitalists during exactly the period since the collapse of the Soviet
system was confirmed in 1989. Prior to this decade, deeper cross-border
economic integration among capitalist countries had of course been evident
since 1950, with trade and capital flows growing significantly faster than
output, and the political consequences had been equally visible in the
growth and evolution of inter-governmental organizations at the regional
and global levels. But it took two decades of crisis following the end of
the long postwar boom (1945-70) for the consequences to become clear in the
disintegration of the national economic models of
welfare-state-Keynesianism in the advanced capitalist countries, and
post-colonial developmentalism in the Third World. As a consequence, we
can now see that the collapse of Soviet communism took place in a very
particular international context.

        Now, I do not deny that many writers have drawn attention to the role of
hard currency indebtedness in increasing the pressure on Soviet-bloc
regimes in the 1980s, and later the evidently semi-peripheral or peripheral
level at which the bloc's various national economies were reinserted into
global capitalism; others have charted the key role of the IMF, the World
Bank and the European Commission in the restoration of capitalism in 'the
East'. In part, this way of interpreting the so-called transition rested
very simply on a comparison of levels of economic development: in similar
vein, back in the mid-1980s during the second wave of economic reform in
Hungary, the question was raised of how a capitalist Hungary would make out
- trying to preserve Swedish levels of welfare with Portuguese levels of

        The problem lies with the understanding of global capitalism that informs
this recognition of the 'external' aspects of post-Soviet political
economy. It seems that all too often, this understanding is essentially
that of the 1960s: of the post-colonial struggle of third world
nation-states against dependency and underdevelopment. In this view, the
former Soviet bloc states are depicted as following the path of Latin
American or worst still African states, into a sort of neo-colonialist dead
end characterised by an alliance between foreign economic exploiters and
rapacious local comprador ruling classes. There is plenty of evidence for
this interpretation: the role played by the export of raw materials from
the post-Soviet economies, the importance of foreign loans in meeting
budget and payments deficits, and the way in which foreign direct
investment has focused mainly on exploiting highly-profitable domestic
consumer markets. At the same time, post-Soviet politics seemed to centre
very much on reconciling the cosmopolitan transnationalism of the free
market, and the (often ethnic) nationalism which the emerging regimes
deployed to establish their political legitimacy.

        In a curious way, however, the left had, and still has, an analysis of
capitalism very close to that of the Soviet regime, both with regard to the
Third World, and the advanced capitalist countries.

        To begin with the former, I do not wish to suggest that dependency theory
and the analysis of centre-periphery relations in global capitalism were
driven directly and solely by the ideological requirements of the Soviet
regime. But clearly there was a great deal in common between the theories
that underpinned anti-colonial Third World nationalism of the 1960s, and
the then current Soviet analyses of imperialism - and both reflected the
very real confrontations between the imperial powers and their former de
jure and de facto dependencies in that period. And just as the Soviet view
of the Third World seemed less and less credible as the Soviet Union
pursued classic 'great power' tactics in the Brezhnev era, so dependency
theory lost credibility in the Third World as the strategy of autonomous
economic development - based mainly on import-substitution - foundered in
economic disorder and indebtedness. But whether it was financiers in the
capitalist heartlands, or Third World elites themselves, that were
responsible for the transition from the 'new international economic order'
postulated in the 1970s to the abject crisis of Third World indebtedness in
the 1980s is neither here nor there. It was already very clear in the
1970s that post-colonial regimes in the Third World were indelibly marked
by their particular insertion into global capitalism: not only were
merchants and latifundistas closely linked to ex-colonial capital, but in
addition small but powerful sections of the urban middle and working
classes too. But despite the evident ambiguity of economic nationalism in
the Third World, the left felt obliged to theorise it as a struggle for
national liberation.

        In striking parallel, the Soviet theory of state monopoly capitalism in
the advanced capitalist countries in the 1960s had a great deal in common
with the Keynesian analyses that dominated economic discourse within the
latter. Both assumed that, left to 'its own' devices, capitalism was
characterised by unacceptable exploitation, inequality and a tendency to
stagnation and crisis. They shared not only an underconsumptionist
macroeconomics, but also a view of the state as a distionct economic agency
above or apart from capital, capable of regulating it to the benefit of one
or other of the great classes: in short the redistributive state. In
Hungary in the 1970s, I was struck by the fact that one view of Western
capitalism was shared by both the regime and its dissidents: namely, the
post-Keynesian analysis of Galbraith, which saw capitalism as a rather
stable economic order regulated carefully and effectively by big business
and the state.

        A number of key features were common to these shared analyses of developed
and underdeveloped capitalism. First, labour - the proletariat - figured
essentially as passive victim, capable, with appropriate leadership and in
the right circumstances, of acting collectively to overthrow capitalism,
but otherwise tossed hither and thither by the anarchy of the market or the
oppression of the capitalist state. I will come back to this later.
Second, the bourgeois view of the separation of state from ('civil')
society was internalised in socialist thinking, whether in the reformist
notion of using the state to reform or transform capitalism, or the
so-called revolutionary notion of the capture of state power: either way,
the state was envisaged fundamentally as the pre-eminent instrument for
social change. Third, the left also accepted the equally bourgeois idea of
the nation-state as the basic unit of global capitalism - an
'inter-national' economic order of rich nations and poor, in which
economic, political and military hegemony was exercised by some
(imperialist) countries over other (oppressed) countries.

        Now all these features of left theory (and practice) may in principle be
defended with regard to the century from 1870 to 1970, in which the state
assumed an apparent supremacy over society and in which world affairs were
apparently shaped by the struggle of state against state. How could it
have been possible, save in the occasional periods of Comintern enthusiasm
for the anti-colonial struggle, to conceive of a real commonality of
interest between, say, the industrial workers of Britain, and the miners
and plantation workers of the colonial Gold Coast? The overthrow of the
monopoly capitalist class and their state seemed the natural and obvious
form of struggle for the former, and breaking the colonial yoke was the
priority of the latter. But if we look back now to the 1960s, we can see
that the left in the advanced capitalist countries was making little or no
headway in their struggles, while the national liberation movements of the
Third World found their goals of development and dignity rapidly receding.

        Why was this the case? Clearly, we underestimated the resilience of
capitalism. We had become so accustomed to thinking of it as declining
towards an inevitable end; indeed, for the non-Communist left, 1968 seemed
to demonstrate the possibility of revolutionary victory not only over
Western capitalism and imperialism, but over bureaucratic state socialism
(or whatever you want to call it) in the East as well. But I would argue
today that there were changes under way in capitalism at that time that did
not become readily visible until the 1980s; that these changes culminated
in the phenomena that bourgeois social science now recognises under the
heading of globalization; and that the left has still to grasp the real
significance of these changes.

        What are these changes? In essence they are changes in the spatial
patterns of capital accumulation and reproduction, including important
changes in the relations between economic and political power. In parable
form: from around 1870, capital adopted the form of national capital,
forging an intimate relationship with the state in the management of labour
and in the pursuit of world markets, and creating the classic system of
imperial rivalries that exploded in world wars and depression between 1914
and 1945. Until 1914, this international order permitted not only the
formation of colonial empires, but also a significant degree of
interpenetration of the dominant national capitalisms through cross-border
loans and investments. But the failure to reestablish a legitimate
international financial and trading order at or after Versailles led to a
dramatically different pattern of economic introversion, with declines in
trade exposure and capital flows, escalating tariff wars and the open
espousal of policies of national (or imperial) self-sufficiency . This
introversion reached its apogee in 1950, after which the new international
economic order (the dollar-gold standard and the Bretton Woods
institutions) framed a remarkable renaissance in international trade and
investment flows, accelerated in due course by the steady relaxation of
controls on capital movements. Already in the 1960s, economists drew
attention to the growing importance of multinational corporations - at that
time, almost entirely American in origin - and the potential that they had
for undermining the effectiveness of government economic policies; in the
Third World, this chimed well with post-colonial economic nationalism and
led to relatively restrictive policies towards MNCs, but in the developed
capitalist countries governments felt that the benefits of MNC investments
in improving employment, exports and technology outweighed the suggested
cost to sovereignty.

        By 1980, however, the picture had changed remarkably. Most leading
enterprises from Japan and from Western Europe had also become
multinational in scope; the process of 'liberalization' of capital
movements was largely complete in the main capitalist countries; and a
vast private global capital market had emerged, fuelled by the recycling of
the temporary petrodollar surpluses of oil exporting nations, and escaping
largely any effective national or international regulation. Within three
or four years of the second oil price rise, which had been heralded by many
on the left as a triumph for the emerging new international economic order,
the Mexican debt default of 1982 set the stage for the dominant capitalist
powers to turn the tables, and, led by the singularly pro-business US
administration, to begin a determined effort to restore capitalist order.

        Now in some important respects the new capitalist order, with its focus on
fiscal and monetary stringency, on cutting back the state and eliminating
inflation, looked very like the old, pre-Keynesian capitalist order; and
when it led to levels of unemployment in the OECD countries not seen since
the 1930s, and to fierce attacks on trade unionism and universal welfare
benefits, it was easy for the left to fall back on Keynesian critiques and
alternatives. But in other respects, the new order was very different:
history was not after all repeating itself. Despite repeated bouts of
serious international economic disorder - debt crises, payments imbalances,
exchange rate gyrations, speculative attacks on currencies, aggressive
trade policy actions, the transmission of deflation from one economy to the
next - the world economy did not as in the 1920s break up into competing
blocs or zones.

        The reason for this lie precisely in the changes that are captured,
however superficially at times, in the modern concept of globalization.
Levels of foreign direct and portfolio investments have soared in the last
twenty years, accompanied by deeper cross-border integration of markets and
of production. As always, capital accumulation is remarkably uneven, with
investments heavily concentrated in the more developed regions of the world
economy, and significant regions largely excluded. Most recently, a wave
of massive cross-border mergers is creating businesses that are genuinely
multinational in ownership and management as well in production and
distribution operations. At the same time, the rapid growth and deepening
of international capital markets has been well-documented, as well as the
increasing importance of trade as a proportion of national output in almost
every country. In addition, the political regulation of capitalism is
increasingly transnational in scope, with the growing importance of
regional and global public institutions as compared to national ones.

        The response of many broadly progressive writers to these developments is
one of scepticism. Their real extent and significance, the sceptics
argue, has been exaggerated: for them, globalization is first and foremost
an ideological construct, forged with the express purpose of rolling back
the economic and political gains of the working classes during the postwar
years. The ruling classes insist on the inevitability of globalization so
that they can say, like Margaret Thatcher, that 'there is no alternative'
to fiscal austerity and the rule of the market; and the appropriate
response to this for the left is therefore to encourage a resistance
movement centred on the defense of the sovereign nation-state. If we
concede the inevitability of globalization, in this view, we throw away the
one political instrument - the state - which has proved capable of taming

        This is surely a serious misreading, not only of current developments in
capitalism, but also of the history of capitalism, the capitalist state and
workers' resistance. What taming there was of capital in the imperialist
centres before 1914 developed in response to the very real threats posed by
social democracy and trade unionism; and the national introversion and
global fragmentation of capitalism between 1914 and 1950 then allowed the
creation of welfare systems, wider employment rights and national economic
management which again were demanded by workers, not instituted by a
naturally benevolent state. The proto-socialist character of this
mid-century welfare capitalism was well understood by ruling classes
everywhere, and the Thatcher-Reagan neoliberal crusade was their considered
and eventual response - not the wild aberration that Keynesians would have
us believe. Above all, the state remains an explicitly capitalist state,
not a neutral agency standing outside of class conflict, and even
sophisticated left strategies of 'working from the inside' had little
chance of success.

        Furthermore, we have to question just what national alternative there is
to the neoliberal orthodoxy. Given the ever-deeper interpenetration of
national capitalisms, the economic interests and political influence of
labour and capital are no longer congruent. In country after country in
the last 20 years, centre-left governments trying to maintain (let alone
extend) more interventionist or progressive economic programmes on an
explicitly national basis have met with fierce hostility from all
significant business interests. The Jospin government in France is just
barely managing to introduce the 35-hour week for two reasons: first, that
big business can easily afford it and is more concerned right now about
restructuring corporate ownership, governance and finance; and secondly,
because it can strongarm the very weak French unions into making
concessions on 'flexibility' that will ensure that the burden falls on
wages, not profits.

        In these circumstances, it seems far more realistic to break with the long
tradition of seeking national class alliances, and instead seek to build
the autonomous power of labour, however 'utopian' that may seem to be -
especially in the former Soviet bloc where that power was so firmly crushed
for so long. But this in turn requires that we examine more closely the
divisions of labour which constitute a major obstacle to such a strategy.

Divisions of labour

        In Capital, Marx abstracted from the geopolitical division of capitalism
into sovereign territorial nation-states. The first division of labour
that remained was the social division of labour between different sectors
or occupations, which was founded on the material distinctions between
products of labour and on the different concrete labours performed in
producing them. Marx was unambiguous about the potential, in a materially
wealthy society, for greatly reducing the social stratification typically
entailed, for example between town and countryside, artisan and clerk, home
worker and factory worker, administration and production, by multiskilling
and the rotation of tasks under collective social control - but the
character of the tasks themselves was seen as largely determined by the
progress of science and technology.

        The second and analytically distinct division of labour was the technical
division of labour within the workplace, which was radically deepened as
the new mode of production matured through the ideal sequence from
cooperation to manufacture to modern industry. On this Marx was equally
unambiguous, arguing that the detailed division of labour that
characterized manufacture was intimately associated with the separation of
workers from the means of production; while its intensification under the
apparently technical domination of machines within modern industry
represented the 'real subordination' of labour to capital, and revealed
most fully the exploitative nature of capitalism. Here, the formal
separation of workers from the means of production, through their
expropriation by capital, was made real by the further expropriation of
workers' skills and knowledge - and thus the tendential elimination of the
'subjective' element that constantly threatened capitalist control of
production. This technical division of labour thus embodied an explicitly
capitalist vertical division of labour, between conception (activities
restricted to capitalists and a narrow layer of specialists) and execution
(the remaining workers).

        Accumulation and technological change generate a complex relationship
between the social and technical divisions of labour. To take an example
very relevant to the former Soviet bloc economies - or for that matter even
the most 'advanced' capitalist economy, the USA - labour that is expelled
from production due to increased extraction of relative surplus-value in
modern industries joins the reserve army of labour. This puts a downward
pressure on wages and opens (or reopens) profitable investment
opportunities in the 'sweated' trades which are based on a more extensive
social division of labour (new products) but a more primitive technical
division of labour (handicraft skills).

        In addition to these two more or less elemental divisions of labour,
further divisions are apparent once we move from the analytical level of
capital in general, to that of many capitals and competition between them,
to pre-existing social, cultural and ethnic divisions, and to the political
battlegrounds on which the classes contend. Differential rates of
accumulation between capitals, arising from success and failure in product
markets or in implementing changes in technology, make for differences in
wage rates and earnings for the same occupation between districts or
between firms. Different approaches to the management of labour create
different payment systems; old pre-capitalist distinctions are transformed
into new skill and status differences. Other sources of social difference,
such as gender and ethnicity, provide further divisions of labour: for
example, gender differences in wages and the tendency for certain
occupations to become gendered. The struggles by labour to organize
generate a wide range of different types of trade unionism, which both
respond to and feed these complex patterns of differentiation. Parties and
movements of the ruling classes, not to mention the shifting allegiances of
the petite bourgeoisie, create further divisions through political
initiatives and through legislation.

        All these divisions of labour are intimately connected to globalization in
two main ways. First, the world economy has an evolving international
division of labour which, through trade and investments, helps to shape the
social division of labour in particular countries, and is in turn
influenced by differences in the rate and patterns of accumulation in them.
 The classic colonial division of labour between manufacturing and primary
production is still of enormous significance, especially for the vast
majority of less developed countries that remain heavily dependent on
primary exports. But this was modified in a 'new international division of
labour' emerged in the 1970s which involved the growth of export-oriented
manufacturing sectors in LDCs; although this has only affected a small
minority of countries, it forms part of a wider pattern of more detailed
specialization through trade, including a rapid growth of intra-industry
trade between advanced industrial economies.

The most important implication of these developments is that they reflect a
more integrated global labour market of a very particular kind: one in
which, with some exceptions, labour itself is not mobile, but capital and
commodities are. In the early history of capitalism labour mobility was
frequently forced, particularly through expulsions of surplus agricultural
labour, and through trade in slaves and indentured labourers; while in the
pre-1914 period international migration brought labour reserves to the USA
and other countries of settlement. But in the present period, there are
severe restrictions on the free movement of labour. The level of demand
for highly-skilled labour makes that part of the labour force de facto
rather mobile, while at the other extreme there is the flourishing trade in
clandestine migration meeting marginal demand for completely unskilled
labour. For the most part, however, the global labour force remains
geographically segmented, with strict control over economic migration. So
long as the mobility of capital too was restricted, workers in the EU, USA
or Japan could be persuaded that this segmentation was in their interest,
but increasingly they are at the mercy of 'divide and rule' tactics by
mobile capital, which have led to downward pressure on wages and labour

The competitive pressures transmitted through international flows of money,
capital and goods have generated sharp increases in rates of exploitation
of labour. In the era of essentially national economic development, the
pursuit of full employment policies involved explicit recognition of
workers as consumers, in what the Regulation School characterised as the
'Fordist model'. Today, even if national segmentation masks the global
nature of the labour market, the national link between production and
consumption is significantly weaker, to the extent that giant firms no
longer make that Fordist connection in choosing their business strategies.
As a result, beginning in the USA in the 1970s already, labour has once
more been treated from the standpoint of cost and exploitation alone: the
1990s version of this in Western Europe and indeed around the world is the
call for 'flexibility', by which is meant wage cuts, speed-ups,
derecognition drives, decentralization of collective bargaining (even to
the level of the individual), etc.

The second point of connection between divisions of labour and
globalization concerns the response of organised labour and other movements
opposed to corporate rule. From a national standpoint, labour's former
collective strength, supported by broadly sympathetic but still electable
political parties able to deliver national standards of labour protection,
has been severely undermined. Yet already in the 1960s workers achieved
some modest successes in organizing at the level of shop-floor
representation in particular MNCs, within the overall framework of the
international labour bureaucracy. Although such activities barely survived
the severe economic pressures of the 1970s, more recently the picture has
changed, partly through new global rank-and-file initiatives such as that
of the dockworkers, and partly through labour-backed intergovernmental
legislative initiatives such as the European Works Council Directive and
the labour side-agreement in NAFTA. There are signs too that the venerable
but hitherto not very effective International Labour Organization may find
a new role to play, given the persistent efforts by advanced-country unions
to place the issue of labour standards on the agenda of the World Trade
Organization. Meanwhile, the attempt by the rich country club, the OECD,
to develop a Multilateral Agreement on Investment designed to accelerate
and consolidate the deregulation of international business met in 1997-98
an energetic and successful global resistance organized mainly by NGOs,
trade unions, some LDC governments and progressive intellectuals.

So far, so good: but it is a big step from the sporadic and fragmentary
successes of international labour and social movement activists to a
sustained internationalist socialist movement capable of offering an
attractive and realistic alternative to the present social order. The
underlying difficulty, it seems to me, is that even if the collective
production of workers are increasingly interconnected through the
globalization of capital, their labour remains divided in the many and
complex ways already described. In the early days of what some called the
'age of automation', in the 1960s, some important attempts were made to
draw out the social implications of new technologies for the organization
of work. The Czechoslovak study Civilization at the Crossroads argued
that the complexity and interconnectedness of the new technologies of the
time would require a vastly more skilled workforce, and one that was much
more equally skilled: indeed, skill was becoming much more closely tied to
human creativity, to active labour, that could only with great difficulty
be constrained within the exploitative commodity form of wage labour.
'Western' Marxism generated a number of critical strands of thinking,
around the labour process (Gorz, Braverman), the division between
intellectual and manual labour (Sohn-Rethel), workers' alternative
technologies (Cooley, Hales) and the 'revolt against work' (Negri). There
seemed to be an emerging synthesis in which overcoming the divisions of
labour and redefining the nature of work would be a central and immediate
political task, not something to be left on one side 'until after the
revolution'. Yet somehow this radical synthesis faded away as workers
everywhere tried to defend themselves against the worldwide assault on
organized labour which gathered pace in the 1980s. If we looked for signs
of hope, they seemed to be found in more-or-less traditional national
labour struggles, as in South Korea in 1987, in the waves of strikes that
marked the last years of apartheid in South Africa, or the rise of the PT
(Labour Party) in Brazil.

Is it possible to get the question of work, the divisions of labour, back
on the agenda? Partly, this might be addressed by putting far more
emphasis on education. Preobrazhensky, in From NEP to Socialism, took it
for granted that the Soviet Union could only secure its survival by mass
education so that workers and peasants could play a full part in economic
management and political decision-making. Most labour movements during the
ascendancy of the national form of capitalist development regarded
educational activities as a central part of their work. Yet today the
dominant ideology in education is one of training or preparation for work
in the narrow sense of being 'employable', by and for capital. The
education and training systems themselves are subject to a 'new
managerialism' within which this goal is pursued, and many liberal and
progressive people have been persuaded that at least the expansion of
post-school education provides opportunities for occupational mobility.
But there is no question that the present education agenda is driven
everywhere by the demand of capitalists for workers able to carry out the
tasks that they set. The result is that, as Richta predicted, there are
massive numbers of workers frustrated as much by the stultifying absence of
creativity in their work, as by the heavy hand of direct managerial control
and the threat of unemployment. There is a real opportunity here for
socialists to offer a different vision of work that centres on bringing
together the creativity of workers and the needs of society, unmediated by
the juggernaut of capital that is concealed behind the anonymity of 'the
market'. Once we envision work as both creative and collective, we can see
that the commodity character of labour-power cripples society's ability to
make effective use of its resources.

It is important, therefore, to revive those critical strands of socialist
thought that address the issues of education, skills and work organization.
 I should stress that I am not taking sides in the long-running debate
about giving primacy to 'labour issues' as opposed to the 'new social
movements'. The sort of labour issues that I have discussed arise just as
much in the work of those new social movements: indeed, at root these
movements are also about divisions of labour, between rich and poor, men
and women, polluters and environmentalists, and the objectives they pursue
entail more often than not radical changes in the ways in which production
is organised. The key point is that to be able to offer some kind of real
alternative that connects with the everyday concerns of people, we have to
appeal not merely to the material or moral imperatives that shape them, but
to their innate creativity. At present, such concerns are restricted to
the voluntary sector, which is increasingly exploited by 'new
managerialist' public sector agencies anxious to reduce the cost of
providing basic welfare services; to fringe 'utopian' communities whose
relations to the 'straight' world are often very problematic; and
paradoxically to a small band of 'enlightened' capitalists whose business
rely so heavily on creative and collective work that they have to construct
protected 'reservations' that prefigure a socialist future.


        It may be objected that these arguments are a long way away from the
central concerns of this conference with 'the world crisis of capitalism
and the post-Soviet states'. On the contrary, the fact that these states
are post-Soviet - that the Soviet road to socialism decisively reached a
dead end - requires us to go back to basics. In setting out some
propositions on globalization and on divisions of labour, I am addressing
the underlying orientation of the left, including in the post-Soviet
states. I have argued that a feasible socialism has to deal directly with
the realities of globalization, and not just attack its ideology, by
breaking with the nationalism that has shaped left politics in the 20th
century. I have further argued that socialists can and must develop an
agenda about work and its discontents, about the divisions of labour, which
can challenge the present capitalist order in a different way from the
failed roads of Stalinism and social democracy. These two directions seem
to me to be essential components of a democratic, socialist internationalism.
                                                                        Leeds, October 1999

Correspondence to: Hugo Radice, Institute for Politics & International
Studies, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT. Email: h.k.radice@leeds.ac.uk

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