1920s >> 1927 >> no-279-november-1927

The nationalisation fraud

While the workers are separated from their means of life, dependant upon the masters for work in order to live, all economies in doing’ that work mean fewer required. Nationalisation is one of those capitalist economies, and wherever it operates, as on certain railways, or over whole industries as in Australia, its effects have been detrimental to the workers. The capitalist class in control of political power will decide when and where privately run industries will serve their class better as State capitalist concerns, such as the Post Office. Despite empty phrases of Communist and Labour reformers, the workers will have no control whne the masters own. “Forward” (13/8/-27), the Scottish organ of ‘he I.L.P., says: “The whole of the Labour programme for the reconstruction of our two basic industries is based on the practicability of Nationalisation.” True, the Labour Party, with its lords, viscounts, parsons and capitalist financial support, require a programme that will win the votes of those who are tired of the orthodox parties, but it must appear to be one different from those parties. It must contain issues over which they appear to fight the capitalists, issues over which the workers can win a “great victory,” but which will still leave them workers as of yore. At the moment the Trade Union Bill and Nationalisation serve the purpose, as Home Rule, Free Trade, Votes for Women, etc., have done in the past—served to divert your attention from your slavery. But a problem confronts the Labour Party. With office and power looming’ in the distance, to make Nationalisation an issue would, with power conferred upon them, imply the necessity of introducing legislation to make it a fact : What would be the result? They would first lose a vote-catching stunt that has served them well when power seemed remote, but more important, its worsening’ effects upon the workers’ conditions would eventually disillusion those members of the working class who support capitalism masquerading as Labourism. J. H. Thomas, ambassador of class docility, sees this. Addressing an international gathering of school teachers on the subject of the practicability of Nationalisation, he told them plainly that as a Labour Party measure it is not practical now.

“Forward” (Ibid) quotes his statement from the “Manchester Guardian” (9/8/27), and appears to express astonishment. Say they : ”In the light of this, Mr. Thomas is surely entitled to give us an explanation of his statements at the Teachers’ Conference.” But stay! There is a gentleman whose photo appears on the same page as this request, from whom “surely” an explanation is due also. He is the Great God (capitals, please) of the I.L.P., Ramsay MacDonald. He saw the light sooner than J. H. Thomas, so is entitled to the first explanation. He has said : “I should not be doing justice to you or to myself if I told you that Nationalisation was going to get you out of your present difficulties; you know that I should be lying if I tried to spoof you in that way.” “Times,” (27 7/25). Here is a dilemma. According to this idol of the I.L.P., both they and the Labour Party, whose programme is based on the “practicability of Nationalisation” are lying and spoofing to you. Shall we be told it is not true because “we are only a small party,” or is it true because these more far-seeing leaders realise that things are only practical to them while they serve as vote-catching expedients.


(Socialist Standard, November 1927)

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