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International Socialism, Summer 1966


Charles Posner

From our Readers

[The Counterplan]


From International Socialism (1st series), No.25, Summer 1966, pp.15-16.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


May I be permitted to make some comments on Michael Kidron’s declarations about the counterplan in your last number (IS 24)?

I was utterly taken aback by what appears to be some very wrong assumptions. He readily assumes that a counterplan is an utterly useless document because it, by nature of its contesting overall economic categories defined within the existing social system, does not contribute to a more thorough understanding of the capitalist system or do anything to raise the consciousness of the working class.

I strongly sympathise with this point of view. If the counterplan were merely a reallocation of resources within the accepted framework of ‘economies’ rather than a rigorous critique of the assumptions behind the existing system, I doubt if any of those associated with the project would want to have anything to do with it. If the counterplan when finished were little more than a vacuous repetition of the bland document prepared by a group of academics for the Éditions du Seuil, then the whole project would be a total failure. The point behind the project is, in fact, a rigorous social critique of the whole notion of existing economic and social theory that has permitted the atomisation of human activity into a series of unconnected academic categories which by their nature destroy any genetic appreciation of society. The point of the counterplan is to point out that there are a whole series of viable alternatives, and precisely to impress this upon the reader. It is not designed for an academic audience but we hope for trade unionists. To our knowledge no short concise document exists showing the relatedness of socio-economic life within the context of present-day British society.

To claim that any such project is a waste of time because it doesn’t ‘communicate’ with people seems very short-sighted to me. If one is going to engage in any kind of campaign for socialist ends, one is going to need quite a lot of data. Capitalist society has changed to the extent – with the introduction of the processes of the third industrial revolution and its social institutions – that a purely negative campaign on the factory floor or one that deals in the very broadest of generalities is insufficient. The worker under such a regime becomes much more integrated into the plant. This integration leads to a heightened appreciation of the possibilities of his appropriation of work and has been seen in many instances (Lockwood, Mallet, Naville, Belleville, Touraine), to his acquiring the rudiments necessary for his participation in self-management. To that extent, one’s approach calls for a much higher level of sophistication. One must pitch one’s activity at the level of consciousness, and be able to demonstrate the inter-reliability of the economy and in fact the very wrongness in taking economics as anything more than a reified measure of human values. We hope that our project will be useful along these lines. It is a very modest project but has a series of what we hope are important aims. We are not going to present a total detailed overview of the economy nor are we going to present what a socialist utopia would look like. This decision is not ours to make. All we can do is to help provide that spark that will help people to see through the present debate and begin to arrive at their own conclusions. If Michael Kidron finds this either too little or too much, I hope that he can offer us some useful suggestions for more meaningful activity given the constraints that to have any effect in term’s of one’s long-term goals upon a society, one must engage in the activities of that society – unless of course one adheres to a strict moral imperative as did Kant and is prepared to relegate oneself to a position of an homme solitaire whose very position would be a mockery of his supposed acceptance of dialectics, and the vision tragique that constitutes the essence of its value.

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