Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Next Sunday in France

From the SPGB blog, Socialism Or Your Money Back

Next Sunday people in France will be voting in the first round of the French presidential elections. They will have a choice of 12 candidates, including one from the so-called Socialist Party, another from the so-called Communist Party, three Trotskyists and an "anti-capitalist".

We are often asked why all those calling themselves socialist don't just get together. The programme of the Trotskyist candidates in these elections provides one answer. When we contest elections, we campaign only for socialism as a worldwide system of society, without frontiers, based on the common ownership and democratic control of productive resources, with produced solely for use not for profit. When the Trotskyists contest elections, they hardly ever mention even their (mistaken) conception of socialism (which in reality is state capitalism). They assume that capitalism will continue and offer only reforms to it, thus contributing to the illusion that capitalism could be made to work in the interest of the majority class of wage and salary workers.

A case in point is Lutte Ouvriere, the premier Trotskyist organisation in France. Here's how they describe their candidate's programme in the latest issue of their French-language theoretical journal Lutte de classe:
"The three major problems for the popular classes are the persistence of unemployment at an unacceptable level, the continual decline of the purchasing power of the toiling classes and the catastrophic state of housing for the people. These necessitate an urgent solution. This urgent solution requires a different use of the high profits realised by enterprises over many years. It is from these profits as well as from the hand-outs given to enterprises by the State at a loss that must be taken the funds needed to finance the maintaining of employment in the private sector and to create new ones, useful to the population, in the public sector".

In other words, capitalism, including a private sector, is to continue and there is a "solution", even an "urgent" one, within it: to use the profits of capitalist enterprises to create new jobs and build new and better houses. This is just demagogy as there is no solution to unemployment and bad housing under capitalism, as the experience of capitalism shows let alone a knowledge of Marx's analysis of how capitalism works.

But it gets worse. The naughty capitalists have, apparently, not been using their profits properly:
"The unprecedented profits accumulated by enterprises are not used for real investments, i.e. for the building of new factories, the manufacture of new machines, the enlargement of productive capacities with jobs as a consequence. That's the essential reason for the present economic crisis. Instead of enlarging the basis of production, the accumulated money is more and more financialised and only used for those false investments that are the take-over of enterprises by each other. Unable to enlarge the market with a sufficient rate of profit, the main aim of enterprises is to dispute with others their share of the market. The competition between them to outbid each other sustains a speculative spiral which, in addition, threatens the economy with a new stock exchange or monetary crisis".

There's a solution to this too:
"The only way to stop this rush towards the abyss is for the popular classes, the population, to impose their control over enterprises, over the choices made by their managements. The population must be able to exercise control over the enterprises day by day, over their finances, their strategies, their choices, their short and long term projects, so as to be able to oppose projects which manifestly go against the interests of society".

We don't know if they really believe that all that is needed to get enterprises to produce in "the interests of society" rather than for profit is popular control over their investment decisions, but that's what they say, so giving the impression that this would be possible under capitalism. That capitalism could be reformed in this way is of course just another reformist illusion.

We suspect we know what they are going to reply in response to this criticism: that these promises are only a "transitional programme" designed to lead workers, who can't understand the "abstract" idea of socialism, to realise through the experience of the failure of these reformist measures the need to get rid of capitalism (actually, to establish state capitalism as in Russia under Lenin and Trotsky).

In other words, there's a subtle theory for the "vanguard" and demagogic reformist promises for the thicko "masses".

Either they believe their promises (in which case they are reformists). Or they are just offering them as bait to win followers (in which case they are disreputable manipulators). Either way they stand condemned. Which is why we are just as opposed to them as to the openly pro-capitalist candidates.

We say that workers in France who want socialism can show this by dropping a paper marked "SOCIALISME MONDIAL" into the ballot box.
Adam Buick

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