National Sections of the L5I:

Social ownership and planned economy

Printer-friendly versionPDF version

Under capitalism, revolutionaries defend state ownership against privatisation because this makes all questions of hiring and firing, quality of service or product one for the whole of society and not a question of private contract between employers, employees and customers.

It is for this reason that the capitalist class does not want state ownership – or only tolerates it to socialise losses for bankrupt industries considered “too big to fail”. But such nationalised industries and services are not “socialist” – not even socially owned. The state which owns them is still capitalist and tries by every means it can to force the “public sector” to serve the long term interests of profit by subsidising the prices of raw materials, transport or energy charged to the big corporations.

Genuine social ownership means that the means of production and exchange, the means of transport belong to society, not to private shareholders or an authoritarian state.

Revolutionaries demand the nationalisation of the banks, key financial institutions, transport and utility companies and major industries under workers’ control and without a penny given in compensation to the former capitalist owners. We demand the nationalisation of every enterprise declaring redundancies, or which refuses to pay minimum wages, observe protective labour legislation or pay taxes.

When there is no private ownership of the economy, “ownership” will be vested in those who produce, and those they produce for, at the appropriate level – local, regional, national, international. Anything that can be decided locally will be. Broader allocations of resources and exchanges of products will be done at a national, regional or world level. Since there will be no competitive struggle for profits, no hidden privileges for bureaucrats or experts, there will be no need for secrecy. Information about resources and decisions will be available to all.

We would not have a single, monstrous, bureaucratic central plan, such as existed under Stalinism, where everything was decided in one place by a caste of privileged bureaucrats. Under real socialism, what will exist will be an ascending series of plans at all appropriate levels, each decided on after debate in a workers’ and consumers’ democracy.