ISJ Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

International Socialism, Autumn 1966


Paul Derrick

[Incomes Policy & Class Power]


From International Socialism, No.26, Autumn 1966, p.21.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


I thought the pamphlet on Incomes Policy by Tony Cliff and Colin Barker was admirable as far as it went. But I found Colin Barker’s comment on my article confused, perhaps the result of a total failure to comprehend the realities of the economic situation.

The capitalist system is breaking down as we find ourselves unable to maintain full employment without inflation, unable to pay our way. The Labour Government is tackling the problem by trying to impose restraint upon the workers, by cutting back production and by creating more unemployment. The pamphlet rightly urges the workers to ‘extend and develop their most democratic and militant organisations’ and to do what they can to maintain and increase their share of the national cake. But to what end? How should this power be used? Anyone looking in the pamphlet for socialist solutions of the country’s economic problems will look in vain. The analysis is admirable; but when it comes to positive proposals they are confined to ways and means of strengthening workers’ organisations. No hints of how this power should be used or of how a socialist society should be created.

Mr Barker suggests that it is ‘unrealistic’ to call for an incomes policy applying to all incomes – as the TUC does – because this cannot be achieved while industry is run on a capitalist basis. It is apparently unrealistic to talk about socialism at all and only realistic to press for increases in money wages which he admits have not increased the worker’s share of the national cake.

When I suggest that company law should be changed so as to put companies under the effective control of the workers and so as to secure for them the full fruits of their industry he derides it. He asks whether such proposals would affect the election result; and the answer is that they would lead to a massive increase in the Labour majority. Does he think that proposals for extending democracy in industry would be bound to lose votes because bureaucratic nationalisation has proved unpopular with some?

His attitude seems to me to be completely sterile, one of power without purpose. To him socialism appears to be cloud cuckoo land because most workers are concerned more with their wages than with socialism. It would have been reasonable if he had said that the pamphlet was about incomes policy and industrial organisation and could not have dealt with the task of building a socialist society and tackling the country’s economic problems without being much longer. It would have been reasonable to have said that International Socialism was very much concerned with these problems and that they might form the subject of another pamphlet. But Mr Barker seems to deny the need for any constructive thinking about socialism or about the socialist way of tackling real problems.

Top of page

ISJ Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 14.12.2007