[Marxism] Re: Re.: Marx was right?

Ken Ranney kranney at rogers.com
Fri Feb 13 10:28:39 MST 2004

Herr Willms
My response is interspersed with your questions and includes, later "You 
have put your finger on the truth here, and I am grateful to you for 
correcting me. "

At 09:33 PM 2/6/2004 +0000, Lueko Willms wrote:
>      Am  06.02.04
>schrieb  kranney at rogers.com (Ken Ranney)
>     auf  /ALIST/MARXMAIL
>      in at pop.pr.phub.net.cable.rogers.com
>   ueber  Re: [Marxism] Re.: Marx was right?
>   and I allow my self to answer some of your statements, but in a
>different order:
>KR> The release of news more closely approximating the truth regarding
>KR> the horrors of the world, would, it is hoped, lead to mobilization
>KR> of the compassion in all of us, and eventually to a just society,
>KR> though for the foreseeable future we would still suffer the evil
>KR> effects of the market and of money.
>   I appreciate that you are looking forward to a just society without
>the "evil effects of the market and of money", but I do not think that
>working people on average need to learn about "the horrors of the
>world"; most do know the horror, they happen to live in, although many
>try to exclude it from their consciousness. The real problem is that
>most working people think "I can do nothing about it", and maybe "I
>would do something about it, but all others don't think like me".
>   What is missing, this is my conviction, is not knowledge about how
>bad our situation is, but confidence in our ability to turn the
>situation around. This self-confidence can only grow out of the
>experience of the people themselves.

It is my impression that the capitalist news media here in Canada and even 
moreso in the US do not tell people the whole truth. When they learn the 
truth they will be more readily channelled into taking action.  But I do 
not disagree with your main thrust here.

>KR>  From the closet: I suggest that the best method of eliminating
>KR> capitalism is to give the ownership of the corporations to their
>KR> workers.  Each worker, in this plan, would have one non-saleable
>KR> voting share in her/his company, to be surrendered if s/he leaves
>KR> the company.  The workers would elect their own management.
>KR> Through worker ownership, the mass media would be freed from
>KR> capitalist control.
>   This raises a number of questions:
>   Who is giving "ownership of the corporations to their workers"?
>   Does that mean that the workers don't take it themselves, but are
>given it by some other force? If so, who's that?

As you point out later, in a concept which had not yet surfaced in my mind, 
it is the workers who are taking control through the election of a 
government which gives “ownership of the corporations to their 
workers”.  So the workers are not being passive, (below) they have elected 
the government which gives to them what I believe is rightfully theirs.  In 
my opinion, the people who do the work should own the company

>   When the workers are not taking ownership by their own initiative,
>are'nt they still being passive, just objects of this other force,
>which, like a good family father is "giving" the workers something?
>   Would that not mean that the workers under such conditions may elect
>a management, as they are allowed to cast a vote so select one of the
>two candidates of the super rich for king of the world, aka US
>president, but have no real power to direct the place they work at and
>its process of production?

The workers would be in control of all aspects of their work. They would 
have as much power over the functions of the company as the previous owners 
but of course each worker would have only a fraction of the power, sharing 
it equally with the other worker-owners. They could decide to manage it 
themselves or appoint presidents, managers, etc.  They might even choose to 
keep the management existing before the hand-over. The behaviour of 
management who owe their existence to the workers would be anticipated to 
be quite different from that of management who owe their existence to capital.

>   Adn you did not elaborate at all if the corporations with their
>management elected by the workers (did you have the Yugoslav model of
>"self-management" in mind?) still do compete one against the other for
>market shares, or their share of the socially produced surplus value,
>of if the society of working people would have some instrument to
>direct not only one corporation, but the society as a whole to serve
>human interests and to assign the different corporations their place
>and role within this society.

The “corporations with their management elected by the workers still do 
compete one against the other for market shares”, but this is intended to 
be only in the early phase of the transition to a socialist society which 
is hoped for.  The system will not change much at first, (though the stock 
market will be gone) which is why many people who fear thoroughgoing social 
change may support it.  But the really important change will be the 
elimination of the capitalist ruling class who are in charge of the world 
and responsible for most of its horrors. They fiercely maintain the status 
quo.  With media ownership by the workers, public opinion can begin to 
move.  If General Motors were owned by the workers, we might persuade them 
to produce an innovative computer-directed public transportation system, 
for they themselves would be affected, in contrast to the rich owners who 
will always have money to buy gasoline no matter what the price. In 
numerous other areas the interests of the workers diverge from the 
interests of the capitalists and we would begin to see progress toward 
improving the world.

I know almost nothing about the ‘Yugoslav model of "self-management"’, but 
believe that it functioned adequately.  I keep wondering if the US saw it 
as a threat, and if it was part of the reason why the US fostered the 
break-up of Yugoslavia.

>KR> I want to take issue with a classic Marxist axiom -- the class
>KR> struggle.  I do not believe that, as the world is presently
>KR> constituted, the working class will bring about socialism.
>  [...]
>KR> For worker ownership to take place, a government would have to be
>KR> elected with a mandate to appropriate the corporations and hand
>KR> them over to their workers.
>   If this government is what scientifically is called a "workers and
>farmers government", it would be result of the _class_ _struggle,_ and
>if it would not be such a government, who would constitute such a
>government, and what would compell it to "hand [the corporations] over
>to their workers"?

You have put your finger on the truth here, and I am grateful to you for 
correcting me. It is certainly fair to say that the election of a 
government which would deliver the corporations to the workers would be a 
form of the class struggle.
In revisiting why I have not seen this as a class struggle, I think it may 
be because of my narrow thinking about the concept of the class struggle–I 
think I have seen it as being owned by Marxists, and since, to my 
knowledge, they have never advocated worker ownership of the corporations 
as a route to socialism, I assumed that what I was suggesting was 
independent of the class struggle. As a result of your question, I will now 
happily add the class struggle to the arguments I make for worker ownership

>KR> It is hard to understand why a political party which
>KR> promised ownership to the workers would not have a reasonable chance
>KR> of being elected even in the face of frenetic opposition from the
>KR> capitalist media.
>   Wouldn't that be a class struggle?

Yes, see above

>KR> The possibility that the rich and powerful would
>KR> revolt must be considered, and it is, arguably, a certainty.
>   How do you envision to suppress such a revolt? By the way that the
>Russian Revolution did? The Cubans?
>   If yes, in how far would this differ from _class_ _struggle?_

It is not clear that there would be a revolt by the rich and powerful, 
partly because, as I have said, change in the economic system would be 
gradual. The rich would be cut off from influencing politics, but would not 
become beggars in the street, as is alleged to have occurred in the Russian 
Revolution.  We could argue that the change would come as imperceptibly as 
death to the frog in the slowly rising water temperature story: a violent 
reaction would not be provoked. When change comes abruptly, as in Cuba and 
Russia, armies are more readily organized against the change. In the 
situation proposed, as we cannot visualize what form, if any, the revolt 
would take, I do not know how to suggest that it be put down. When I say it 
is, arguably, a certainty, I mean only that some will argue that it is 

>KR> Would Marx approve?  Do you approve?
>    I think, Marx would pose similar questions, if somebody like you
>would have come to his house, with some sincere questions.

I thank you for your astuteness, your analytical approach and for the time 
you have taken. When I see your website, http://www.mlwerke.de , I wish 
once again that I had kept up with my high-school Deutsch.

Best wishes.

Ken Ranney


Lüko Willms                                     http://www.mlwerke.de

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