The Demand for “Workers” Control
Reynolds News (4th November, 1945) published the following letter:—
“I am surprised that Mr. Shinwell says he does not subscribe to the doctrine of workers’ control of industry. Surely this has always been one of the basic principles of the Trade Union Movement.
It appears that, instead of applying Socialism, many of our leaders are endeavouring to find a way out of or around the problem. Only a planned economy of workers’ control can realise a full Socialist State.
Mr. Darke’s view is that of many supporters of the Labour Party.
It is completely divergent from the intentions of the Labour Government.
The idea has also been expressed by strikes recently.
The idea is a plausible one: simply this, that if a Government of “workers’ representatives” (Labour leaders) are in office it is “Workers’ control” of industry.
That therefore things will be run increasingly to the benefit of the workers—correspondingly to the detriment of the capitalists, realising, eventually, planned economy in a “full Socialist State”.
Wherein lies Mr. Darke’s error? First of all, workers’ control is not Socialism. Socialism abolishes classes and therefore the working class. Socialism is democratic control of production by the whole community—not by a section of it.
Secondly, and more importantly, neither is a Labour Government “workers’ control.”
First, “workers control” in the sense of operating production is universal to-day. But if by “workers’ control” is meant control of the ownership and distribution of the wealth the workers produce, it obviously cannot be under capitalism. Capitalism is a system based on private ownership; so long as capitalists own, they control.
Where Mr. Darke is confused is that he believes, like so many workers, that a Government composed of men who once worked with their hands, Labour leaders who are ex-dockers, miners, grocers’ boys and milk-float drivers, necessarily makes the policy and intentions of that Government different. It does not.
The Labour Party is elected on a programme for the retention of capitalism. It has deluded many electors that its nationalisation schemes are Socialism. They are not.
It urges the workers now to work harder and tighten their belts to increase exports as a step to “Socialism.” It is not.