On public power
Jose G. Perez
jgperez at netzero.net
Wed Sep 10 19:17:28 MDT 2003
On nationalizations in *general*, as such, I believe it is a
matter of indifference to the interests of working people which
particular capitalist owns a particular factory or whether they all do
collectively through their state. There are all sorts of good reasons to
be for all sorts of specific nationalizations, but not for
nationalizations by a bourgeois state in general. I am thinking here, of
course, of the United States and similar countries, not the Third World.
Generally the bourgeoisie moves to both nationalize and
privatize as a function of its class interests. In general, in the
abstract, all other things being equal, there is absolutely nothing to
recommend collective capitalist property over a given service, resource
or sector over individual capitalist property, or vice versa, and when
the capitalists move to change from one form to the other, generally it
is to screw working people.
There could well be a wonderful case to be made for demanding
nationalization (or municipalization, which is the same thing) of
electricity in California, but it would have nothing to do with the
"national" form of bourgeois control as opposed to the "individual" form
of bourgeois control being superior in general. There is a tendency
among many leftists to propose "nationalization" of this, that, and the
other thing, without rhyme or reason, simply because this form of
capitalist control (collective ownership by all the capitalists through
their state) is perceived as somehow inherently more "progressive" than
the more conventional forms of capitalist control.
It is an entirely different thing to propose nationalization in
response to sentiment or motion among working people against some
especially notorious capitalist exploiters, etc. But the demand would
need to be presented in that sort of spirit, NOT in a spirit that
"public" control (by Gray Davis or George Bush!) is somehow superior to
On education, although for reasons entirely different than those
you give, I do agree with the classical Marxist position of opposing
state control over the education of children as such, in general. This
was explained by Marx in the "Critique of the Gotha Program":
* * *
"Elementary education by the state" is altogether objectionable.
Defining by a general law the expenditures on the elementary schools,
the qualifications of the teaching staff, the branches of instruction,
etc., and, as is done in the United States, supervising the fulfillment
of these legal specifications by state inspectors, is a very different
thing from appointing the state as the educator of the people!
Government and church should rather be equally excluded from any
influence on the school. Particularly, indeed, in the Prusso-German
Empire (and one should not take refuge in the rotten subterfuge that one
is speaking of a "state of the future"; we have seen how matters stand
in this respect) the state has need, on the contrary, of a very stern
education by the people.
But the whole program, for all its democratic clang, is tainted through
and through by the Lassallean sect's servile belief in the state, or,
what is no better, by a democratic belief in miracles; or rather it is a
compromise between these two kinds of belief in miracles, both equally
remote from socialism.
* * *
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