|ON STEPS TOWARDS socialism. Leftists at the present time have little or
no common agreement on what it means to have an advance towards
socialism, and that may be one barrier to moving towards a more unified
and coherent program of resistance. Hence it's probably a very good area
for lengthy debate and consideration.
I do not think nationalization is or ever can be such a "step." Complete
nationalization in the USSR ended in defeat: whatever on'es opinion on
the Soviet Union or Stalin or Brezhnvev, there is no doubt that the
_final_ result was the present dissolution of the USSR and the return to
capitalism. There was extensive nationalization under Atlee in the UK --
little of it remains.
Even in its ideological effect nationalization seems more a technique
for consolidating capitalism than a step towards socialism. Consider the
endless jokes about the Post Office (and not just during the last 25
years, during which time Post Office service has been deliberately
sabotaged by the management just to aid propaganda for privatizatioh). I
would suggest that the endless to-and-fro of
nationalization-privatization-nationalization is probably part of the
funamental rhythm of capitalist regimmes.
When the capitalists nationalize it is for capitalist purposes, and it
is a serious mistake to see that as a gain for us.
The metaphor of "steps" towards in fact calls up one of the two or three
central principles of bourgeois ideology, the Doctrine of Progress. That
doctrine or idea implies that "history" is a march along a given path,
upward and upward from apes to cavemen to Rome to Paris to the Glorious
Future and all we have to do is to stick to the Path of History and keep
advancing ever onwards.
But history is not a Path. History is a jungle. There are no set stages
as the Second (and actually the Third and Fourth) Internationales
assumed, and hence there is no advancing along a path of Progress from
feudalism to capitalism to socialism.
Capitalism is a unique system not merely a "development" of earlier
"stages' of history, and the overcoming of capitalism requires conscious
I would say that in the history of capitalism perhaps one program and
one program alone actually contained the 'seeds' of socialism, and that
was the WPA. Apparently many in government recognized the danger of that
program and even before the war were quickly eliminating that and
replacing it with the safely capitalist PWA.