Re: [OPE] Robert Reich and the nice redistribution scheme

From: Paul Cockshott <>
Date: Sat Sep 04 2010 - 10:00:44 EDT

We surely need something much more radical that Reich is proposing. In Europe at least I think we should be arguing for something more along these lines. The Czech and Russian socialist experiments got rid of unemployment and the anarchy of the market but retained money and surplus value.

The Jugoslav co-operative experiment got rid of surplus value, but retained money, unemployment and the market.

21st century socialists want to formulate a combination of policies that would get rid of unemployment and market anarchy along with money and surplus value. Let me sketch a possible strategy.

First Stage

Constitutional provision to prohibit wage slavery and give workers the right to the full value they collectively produce, and an attendant right to elect a majority of company boards. This moves the economy to a Jugoslav co-operative model in which firms are run for the benefit of their employees.

It is important to note that this measure would mean an immediate and very substantial rise in incomes for almost all workers. It thus accords with their immediate interests in a way that nationalisation does not. It should go without saying that successful political movement has to appeal to the direct interests of a large mass of the population.

Second Stage

There is a process of industrial merger across the continent so that there is a Europäischebahn-Verein, a merged Air-Europe, an Association des constructeurs automobiles européens etc. An Association des Travailleurs Laitière Européenne would be running what was Farmelat, Campina, Dannone etc. This stage removes Nick's objection that some yoghurt producers would be more efficient and profitable than others. When all dairys are run by a common continental syndicat there can be a move to common rates of remuneration and a common technological level accross all of them. Workers in the more advanced ones could give techical advice and support to their brothers and sisters in less advanced plants.

This, I think, is the sort of 'free association of producers', that old Charlie was on about. It gives employees collectively the experience of industrial planning before moving on to a more general socialisation. The continental industrial unions would colletively establish a planning council equiped with computing facilities to allow cybernetic regulation of the economy.

The European trades union movement would obviously have a key interest in promoting this sort of continental merger to advance the values of fraternity equality and co-operation.

Third Stage

Assume that from stage 1 the Euro is tied to the labour hour ( currently it is worth about 2 mins) and the time value of the Euro notes printed on them. This would have acted as propaganda against the system of wage labour. Now a proposal is put to popular referendum to abolish the existing monetary system and with it all debts and interest on debts. This would polarise the population between a majority who would benefit from the cancellation of debts and the residual capitalist rentier class who no longer had any productive role. Assuming support can be won for the proposal, a continent wide system of labour credits would be brought into place. These would be non transferable to prevent the re-emergence of speculation and money-lending etc and could only be used to get goods produced by the great workers industrial associations.

My feeling is that socialist economists have a duty to put forward detailed and practical socialist transition measures that we can put forward to the European trades union movement. These have to be an integrated set of steps that can be seen to be economically practical provided political obstacles are overcome. Only in this way can the labour movement have an international political voice and directly challenge the policies being advanced by the Commission and the governments nation states.

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Received on Sat Sep 4 10:04:40 2010

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