(fwd from Andrew Pollack) The Militant: Nationalize the energy companies!

Les Schaffer schaffer at optonline.net
Fri Aug 22 08:56:44 MDT 2003

[ i've forwarded this post, which was a reply to Fred's "broadcast"
email, mainly as an antidote to some of the problems with the
Militant's editorial. Les ]

I'm glad they raise the demand, and lefties should figure out how we
can try to agitate for this. Having said that, the editorial is clumsy
and/or wrong, and pointing out how will be helpful in figuring out how
and among whom to agitate.

1. The crisis IS due in part to deregulation. That accounts for the
contradiction between too much power-generating capacity and too
little transmission capacity, as well as for the inability to handle
episodes when that contradiction overloads the system. It's a case
study in the irrationality of a system that socializes production and
distribution of energy -- we have regional grids each covering tens of
millions of people -- yet keeps management of that grid and its supply
segmented into private companies which refuse to coordinate with each
other or to submit to government regulation. See Greg Palast's book,
Wayne Barrett in the Voice, or damn near any day of the Wall Street
Journal in the last week, for details on how capital split the
industry in an irrational way.

2. Of course before deregulation the system still functioned on behalf
of capitalists. Thus, for instance, privately owned CEI (FirstEnergy's
predecessor in Cleveland) tried to drive the city's municipal plant
out of business, and consumers everywhere paid more than they need
have. (See Dennis Kucinich's statement on this of a couple days ago on
portside.)  But to deny that deregulation plays a role is to deny that
any of the tactics capital has used in the last two decades to solve
its crisis on the backs of workers have been of any consequence.

The point is we should use attacks such as deregulation and
privatization to make the case for nationalizing energy under workers'
control. In a future post I'll cite examples of engineers/technicians
around the country who've shown they know what the problem is and
could, as part of worker/consumer energy councils, manage the industry
without capital.

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