1970s >> 1970 >> no-786-february-1970

50 Years Ago: Government by Labour

A question which has recently aroused considerable controversy is, “Can Labour Govern?”
Socialists not so much concerned with the question of whether Labour can govern as whether is should, or, to put it a better way, whether Labour need govern. And on examination of the facts the only possible conclusion we can arrive at is that it need not—and should not.
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The word “govern” means (according to Blackie’s Concise English Dictionary): “to direct and control; to regulate by authority; to keep within the limits prescribed by law or a sovereign will; to keep in subjection; GRAM., to cause to be in a particular case, or to require a particular case.—v.i. To exercise authority”.
The italics are mine.
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Seeing that the spokesmen of the Labour Party are all so greatly concerned to maintain their ability and their right to govern (when they get the chance) it is natural to ask “Who is it that the Labour Party wish to ‘keep in subjection’?” Seeing that the Labour Party, both officially and in the utterances of its representatives, has no conception of politics other than the capitalist view, and seeing, further, that there is no class beneath the working class to be oppressed, obviously it can only be the workers themselves that the Labour Party desires to “keep in subjection”.
Now. in asserting that Labour need not govern, it is necessary to submit an alternative. That alternative is Administration . . . The same dictionary says that to administer is “to manage or conduct as chief agent . . .” and states that the word is derived from the Latin ministro, to serve. The difference, then, between Administration and Government is that the first serves the people and the other represses them.
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Real Administration can be born only when the proletariat, having seized political power, use it for the purpose of making the means of production the common property of the whole of society, and proceed to administer them for the common welfare of all. Then the need for the State, for government—“Labour” or other, wise— and the “keeping in due subjection”, will vanish, and mankind will at last be free.
(From an article by Hutch., Socialist Standard, February 1920).