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Letters: 'Workplace Democracy' & 'Deglobalisation?'

Dear Editors

The essence of socialism is democracy within the workplace. That's each employee having an equal say in the production and distribution of products, sourcing of raw materials, and everything else relevant to the business. Equating socialism with the former Soviet Union and countries with centrally-planned economies is just asinine and deliberately misleading. It's the old chestnut of 'Socialism has been tried and it has failed.' What country ever had a majority of businesses where there was a democratic say for all the employees? It's not about storming the Winter Palace either. The state will always prevail over those sort of tactics. Transitioning from our present economic system run by private tyrannies to one where democracy was extended into the workplace would be a real revolution. What we think of revolution is really a 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss' type of conjuring trick. Democracy within the workplace is what the establishment fears most and for good reason.

Louis Shawcross, Hillsborough, Northern Ireland

Reply:

You make some goods points but the use of the word 'employee' is misleading. Workplaces in socialism will be democratically organised, but those working there will no longer be 'employee', i.e., will no longer be working for wages for an 'employer'. It sounds as if you might be advocating worker control of 'businesses' producing for sale on a market with a view to profit; which wouldn't be socialism – Editors

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Deglobalization?

Dear Comrades

I read Stefan’s article ‘Deglobalization: Is globalization going in reverse?’ (Socialist Standard, May). Stefan’s treatment of this extremely complex phenomenon is thought-provoking.

Despite a weakening of intergovernmental institutions, are there not deeper structures of globalization – not necessarily in the political sphere – that remain intact?

There is an inherent carrot versus stick relationship introduced into the arena of international business by existing treaties on trade: ‘Profit’ v ‘Regulation’ however mild. The abandonment of international trade treaties would perhaps result in a more laissez-faire, colonial frontier type freedom of exploitation and expropriation. Down this turnpike the destination could be the hell of war.

At this juncture it would perhaps be unwise to rule out a come-back of globalization in the fairly near future or to assume that we are on the threshold  of a long period of globalization.

JOE R. HOPKINS, Florida, USA.

Reply:

Good point – in particular about 'deep structures'. The crucial deep structure is that of capital itself, because a relentless drive to expand is intrinsic to capital as self-expanding value. Even protectionist governments are under constant pressure to accommodate this drive.

            As Marx put it in Grundrisse: 

            'Capital is the endless and limitless drive to go beyond its limiting barrier. Every boundary is and has to be a barrier for it. Else it would cease to be capital – money as self-reproductive' (Notebook III/IV).

            And again:

 'Capital by its nature drives beyond every spatial barrier... Capital must strive to tear down every spatial barrier to intercourse, i.e. to exchange, and conquer the whole earth for its market' (Notebook V). 

Nor is there any reason to expect capital to halt at the limits of the planet of its birth. – Editors