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Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Larry Gambone: Before "Socialism" Became "Government Ownership"

A series of quotes from The Impossibilists: A short history of Canadian Impossibilism, with selections from the press of the Socialist Party of Canada and the One Big Union, 1906-1938 (Montreal: Red Lion Press, 1995).

"A Reply To John Alexander," Western Clarion, Dec. 8, 1906

Mr. Alexander informs me that the trade unionists in Britain are in favor of the nationalization of public utilities. I will tell him of some other individuals who, unlike the British unionists, are potent enough to carry their ideas into practical effect—the Czar of Russia, Bismarck of Germany and the ruling class of Japan. Shall the Socialists therefore ally themselves with these gentlemen?

"Nationalization Of Industry," Western Clarion, August 1918

National ownership, which during the last decade or so has been advanced by the old political parties and reform idealists, as a means whereby the miseries of the working class would be alleviated and which has even been labeled “Socialism”, has been the recipient of some severe shocks recently....

Apparently, government ownership is no better for the slave than private ownership, and it seems as if under government control the workers are in a more absolute slave position (if possible) than ever, bound by rules and regulations and subject to more direct coercion than ever before. National ownership or control is only a more complete development of capitalism and is generated by the commercial jealousy of one section of the capitalist class against another. Socialists realize that nationalization of industry will not remove the slave system under which the working class is compelled to live.

"The Fallacy Of Nationalization," by Alex Young, OBU Bulletin Feb. 27 1930

Let the reader remember we are living in a world where the existing industrial system is called Capitalism, and that the basis of Capitalism is to make profits, regardless whether under nationalization or not. Nationalization would operate and does operate the same as the big chain stores or trusts, to eliminate useless labour and make bigger profits. What about the workers? Would it give better wages or less hours and more employment? If the mines were nationalized operating staffs would be greatly reduced and more machinery introduced. The same applies in all industries, it is simply concentration of labour in the most efficient way.

Under private capitalism the workers must sell their labour power to live and under nationalization, which is state capitalism, they must sell their labour power and be subject to the laws of capitalism, a struggle for existence and hired and fired to suit a capitalist state....

"The Next Act In World Drama," by Warren Atkinson, Western Clarion, December 15, 1906

....government ownership will not in itself secure labor’s product to those who produce it. This is sustained by experience with government ownership abroad, of which there is much more established in European countries than is even proposed here. Nevertheless it is expected that the movement for government ownership now being organized will swallow up the Socialist Party by becoming more and more radical as though they would defeat it in the end by counterfeiting it.

That public ownership after the fashion of the capitalist should be corrupt is inherent in the nature of it. It will be corrupt not only as capitalist business is corrupt, but even as measured by the moral standards of the trading class themselves. The public may expect no mercy and should deserve none. Government industries administered by politicians are often disgracefully inefficient and usually unprogressive, resisting the introduction of improved methods and devices.

And here's another good one I found on my own:

"Editorial," International Socialist Review XIII, No. 6 (December 1912).

Nationalization simply reflected the capitalist's realization "that he can carry on certain portions of the production process more efficiently through his government than through private corporations..... Some muddleheads find that will be Socialism, but the capitalist knows better."


Anonymous BK Miller said...

Interesting argument. Could one also argue that as corporations become larger than all but the largest governments, they will be forced to take on more of the role of governments (look at the sizxe of the private security business)?

July 11, 2006 1:12 PM  
Anonymous Wild Pegasus said...

If the mines were nationalized operating staffs would be greatly reduced and more machinery introduced. The same applies in all industries, it is simply concentration of labour in the most efficient way.


- Josh

July 11, 2006 1:41 PM  
Blogger eugene plawiuk said...

BK your point is one that is made by various sci fi authors as well as the vast Anime business in Japan. The State becomes the Market State, with no difference between the corporation and the State. In fact the CIA is the very model of this kind of corporate insurance security firm.

July 17, 2006 6:33 AM  

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