[OPE-L:5652] Re: socialist economic policies in transition period

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Wed May 23 2001 - 07:31:48 EDT

Re Paul C's [5645]:

> The act of standing as a candidate forces me to > think in a  practical
way about mechanisms by
> which a socialist government,
> if elected, could set about expropriating the
> property owning classes
> and transfering the means of production to public > ownership.

I share Charlie's hesitations about offering
tactical advice on such questions: these are the
types of questions that have to be answered
concretely by workers in struggle rather than
merely by 'experts' (no matter how well-
intentioned or progressive they are.)

Before I get to specifics, I want to sound a
precautionary note: a) remember what happened
to the Meidner Plan in Sweden; b) recall what
happened in the fictional BBC movie "A very
British coup".

> I want to try and start a discussion about the
> practical measures  that might be taken to do
> this, bearing in mind issues like:
> 1. How do you distinguish between
> shareholders/property owners
> with small and major amounts of funds -
> obviously one wants the
> richest to be expropriated first.

This shouldn't be a difficult problem although,
of necessity, it requires a somewhat arbitrary
solution. I.e. one has to set some arbitrary cut-off
point re either income or primary source of
income. Or, perhaps, the legislation could be
written in such a way that it would be "phased-in"
with it taking effect most *immediately*  on the
wealthiest families. One could perhaps connect
this to a dramatic increase in the capital-gains
tax (with a threshold over a certain level) or
a change in the personal tax structure such that
there would be a prohibitively large penalty on
income earned through stocks and profits for
the highest income earners.

> 2. How do you deal with the problem of capital > flight.

There might be constraints on what a government
in "Socialist Scotland" could do. E.g. if it was
part of the U.K. and/or the Common Market,
then the following options might not be legally
possible.  One option might be to pass
legislation requiring that corporations may not
re-locate unless they receive the prior consent
of their workers (this is the case, by virtue of
collective bargaining agreement, for many
Swedish firms).  Another alternative might require
that for firms to be allowed to sell goods in your
'socialist' country, they must first agree to produce
goods there and not 'fly'. As for individuals 'flying',
let them fly but either confiscate their physical
and monetary property as a condition for flight
or have a prohibitively high "exit tax" on their
property. Perhaps this could be written in such a
way that it would only affect individuals having
property that is worth an amount customarily
associated with capitalist property (so as not
to create barriers for working-class citizens from
traveling and migrating.)

> Could one for example effectively expropriate
> e capitalist   class with a wealth tax levied at
> out 15% per annum - which
> should be significantly above the real rate of
> turn on capital.

This sounds like a variation of the Meidner Plan
-- but without workers' ownership.

> met so fast that the effective expropriation
> would be much faster?

Well, what would come faster (and more
furious) would be capitalist resistance to such
a plan.

Even if such legislation was passed, it would
obviously have to be connected to controls on
capital flight (discussed above) to be effective.

It is not such a bad thing for a socialist member
of parliament, though, to remember that such
questions will be decided in the streets.

If you had a _real_ socialist government (as
distinct from a social-democratic caretaker
government for capitalism), then until such
time as the revolution, there would be a
'dual power' situation.  These situations ultimately
end with the victory of one class or the other
-- in this instance, a repressive capitalist
movement, including the possibility of a
fascist movement, is a distinct possibility.

I accidentally deleted your question about how
to deal with workers'  insurance and pension
funds.  This is a tough question since workers
can view this as savings.  Unless one is willing
to accept the inequality caused by a buy-out,
there has to be instead the creation of insurance
and pensions as a *right* guaranteed by law.
Then one would have to make the case that one
is not taking anything away from the group that
has these programs already but rather that one
is taking action to *universalize* these benefits
so that all can have access to them. This might
be a 'tough sell', however.

In solidarity, Jerry

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat Jun 02 2001 - 00:00:08 EDT