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50 Years Ago: Socialism on the state?

We are not concerned with discussing the relative merits of state or private ownership in any particular industry, or in general. The basic features of capitalism remain the same in either case—the relation of buyer of labour power to seller, with the propertyless and poverty condition of the latter.

Those workers who expected a better deal from the state than from private employers have been, and are being sadly disillusioned. In rejecting claims for pay increases for railway workers Mr. W. P. Allen for the Railway Executive, recently told a Court of Inquiry “It is possible that far too many of those in our employ expect far too much from nationalisation far too quickly.” (The Star, 8.1.51).

As time goes by it is becoming increasingly clear that the interests of the majority of people cannot be served by any group of leaders who profess to be “on their side” any better than those who avowedly rule them. As Gordon Rattray Taylor puts it, “workers in nationalised industries are slowly waking up to the fact that they have only changed one kind of master for another.” (Are Workers Human?, p.18).

To those who voted Labour last time in the belief that state ownership holds out a solution, or even a step towards it, of their problems we say—profit from your mistake. The only prerequisite to a good life is your understanding its highest expression—a socialist world.

(From article by S. R. Parker, Socialist Standard, March 1951)