K. Michaels

On Our Programme

(April 1954)

From Socialist Review, Vol. 3 No. 8, April 1954, pp. 7–8.
Transcribed by Ian Birchall, Nina Kidron & Richard Kuper.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

This is the third of a series of articles devoted to the elucidation of our programme featured on the back page of the Socialist Review. This article will deal with point (4).

There is nationalisation and nationalisation. The one type of nationalisation, the one we’ve been treated to until now, was a change in the organisation of production and were better called rationalisation than nationalisation, its sole function being to make the capitalist economy run more smoothly by placing some of its strong points under centralised control. This type of nationalisation does nothing to change the relations of production in industry – the worker continues as a “factor of production”; the private boards of directors amalgamate and appear, unchanged except for a few trade union bureaucrats thrown in for good “socialist” measure, as the nationalised board; the only way the worker can make his demands felt is still – and the A.E.U. and N.U.R. have proved it – strike action. Nationalisation-rationalisation of this type has everything to do with a monopolistic merger like that which took place not long ago in the motor-car industry (Morris-Austin) or with the Russian type of State Capitalism; it has nothing to do with Socialism and Socialist nationalisation.

Socialism means a change in the relations of production, not only in its organisation. Under Socialism, control of production, the plan of production, determination of working conditions, are in the hands of the workers themselves. The living standards of the huge majority of the population aren’t arbitrarily determined by some private – or government appointed board out of contact and uncontrolled by this majority, but are the result of the direct, conscious intervention of the workers, by means of their democratically-elected representatives. These representatives must be answerable at every moment to their electors – subject to immediate recall; must be under constant criticism – frequent elections, and must be true representatives – without receiving a wage packet out of proportion to their degree of skill. Insofar as workers are elected to nationalised boards in a technical capacity, they will receive the wage corresponding to their degree of skill. Insofar as they are policy-making members of the boards using less technical skill than that required on the bench, they will receive the average wage obtaining in the industry. Those directors who sit on so many Boards are surely proof enough that technical knowledge is no pre-requisite for policy-forming.

The Labour Movement must struggle for Socialist nationalist, not capitalist rationalisation; Socialism, not state capitalism.

“A majority of workers’ representatives on all nationalised and area boards subject to frequent election, immediate recall, and receiving the average wage obtaining in industry.”

Last updated on 16 February 2017