Posts Tagged ‘‘Guild Socialism Restated’

Workers’ Chamber Book: Chapter Breakdown

November 21, 2017

As I mentioned in my last post, a year or so ago I wrote a pamphlet, about 22,000 words long, arguing that as parliament was filled with the extremely rich, who passed legislation solely to benefit the wealthy like themselves and the owners and management of business, parliament should have an elected chamber occupied by working people, elected by working people. So far, and perhaps unsurprisingly, I haven’t found a publisher for it. I put up a brief overview of the book’s contents in my last post. And here’s a chapter by chapter breakdown, so you can see for yourselves what it’s about and some of the arguments involved.

For a Workers’ Parliamentary Chamber

This is an introduction, briefly outlining the purpose of the book, discussing the current domination of parliament by powerful corporate interests, and the working class movements that have attempted to replacement parliamentary democracy with governmental or administrative organs set up by the workers themselves to represent them.

Parliamentary Democracy and Its Drawbacks

This discusses the origins of modern, representative parliamentary democracy in the writings of John Locke, showing how it was tied up with property rights to the exclusion of working people and women. It also discusses the Marxist view of the state as in the instrument of class rule and the demands of working people for the vote. Marx, Engels, Ferdinand Lassalle and Karl Kautsky also supported democracy and free speech as a way of politicising and transferring power to the working class. It also shows how parliament is now dominated by big business. These have sent their company directors to parliament since the Second World War, and the number has massively expanded since the election of Margaret Thatcher. Universal suffrage on its own has not brought the working class to power.

Alternative Working Class Political Assemblies

This describes the alternative forms of government that working people and trade unionists have advocated to work for them in place of a parliamentary system that excludes them. This includes the Trades Parliament advocated by Owen’s Grand Consolidated Trade Union, the Chartists’ ‘Convention of the Industrious Classes’, the Russian soviets and their counterparts in Germany and Austria during the council revolution, the emergence and spread of Anarcho-Syndicalism, and its aims, as described by Rudolf Rocker.

Guild Socialism in Britain

This describes the spread of Syndicalist ideas in Britain, and the influence of American Syndicalist movements, such as the I.W.W. It then discusses the formation and political and social theories of Guild Socialism, put forward by Arthur Penty, S.G. Hobson and G.D.H. Cole. This was a British version of Syndicalism, which also included elements of state socialism and the co-operative movement. This chapter also discusses Cole’s critique of capitalist, representative democracy in his Guild Socialism Restated.

Saint-Simon, Fascism and the Corporative State

This traces the origins and development of these two systems of government. Saint-Simon was a French nobleman, who wished to replace the nascent French parliamentary system of the early 19th century with an assembly consisting of three chambers. These would be composed of leading scientists, artists and writers, and industrialists, who would cooperate to administer the state through economic planning and a programme of public works.

The Fascist Corporative State

This describes the development of the Fascist corporative state under Mussolini. This had its origins in the ideas of radical nationalist Syndicalists, such as Michele Bianchi, Livio Ciardi and Edmondo Rossoni, and the Nationalists under Alfredo Rocco. It was also influenced by Alceste De Ambris’ constitution for D’Annunzio’s short-lived regime in Fiume. It traces the process by which the Fascists established the new system, in which the parliamentary state was gradually replaced by government by the corporations, industrial organisations which included both the Fascist trade unions and the employers’ associations, and which culminated in the creation of Mussolini’s Chamber of Fasci and Corporations. It shows how this was used to crush the working class and suppress autonomous trade union activism in favour of the interests of the corporations and the state. The system was a failure, designed to give a veneer of ideological respectability to Mussolini’s personal dictatorship, and the system was criticised by the radical Fascists Sergio Panunzio and Angelo Olivetti, though they continued to support this brutal dictatorship.

Non-Fascist Corporativism

This discusses the way the British state also tried to include representatives of the trade unions and the employers in government, economic planning and industrial policies, and suppress strikes and industrial unrest from Lloyd George’s administration during the First World War. This included the establishment of the Whitley Councils and industrial courts. From 1929 onwards the government also embarked on a policy of industrial diplomacy, the system of industrial control set up by Ernest Bevin during the Second World War under Defence Regulation 58a. It also discusses the corporative policies pursued by successive British governments from 1959 to Mrs Thatcher’s election victory in 1979. During these two decades, governments pursued a policy of economic planning administered through the National Economic Development Council and a prices and incomes policy. This system became increasingly authoritarian as governments attempted to curtail industrial militancy and strike action. The Social Contract, the policy of co-operation between the Labour government and the trade unions, finally collapsed in 1979 during the ‘Winter of Discontent’.

Workers’ Control and Producers’ Chambers in Communist Yugoslavia

This discusses the system of industrial democracy, and workers councils in Communist Yugoslavia. This included a bicameral constitution for local councils. These consisted of a chamber elected by universal suffrage, and a producers’ chamber elected by the works’ councils.

Partial Nationalisation to End Corporate Influence in Parliament

This suggests that the undue influence on parliament of private corporations could be countered, if only partly, if the policy recommended by Italian liberisti before the establishment of the Fascist dictatorship. Those firms which acts as organs of government through welfare contracts, outsourcing or private healthcare contractors should be partially nationalised, as the liberisti believed should be done with the arms industries.

Drawbacks and Criticism

This discusses the criticisms of separate workers’ governmental organs, such as the Russian soviets, by Karl Kautsky. It shows how working class political interests have been undermined through a press dominated by the right. It also shows how some of the theorists of the Council Revolution in Germany, such as Kurt Eisner, saw workers’, peasants’ and soldiers’ councils as an extension of democracy, not a replacement. It also strongly and definitively rejects the corporative systems of Saint-Simon and Mussolini. This part of the book recommends that a workers’ chamber in parliament should be organised according to industry, following the example of the TUC and the GNC Trades’ Parliament. It should also include representatives of the unemployed and disabled, groups that are increasingly disenfranchised and vilified by the Conservatives and right-wing press. Members should be delegates, in order to prevent the emergence of a distinct governing class. It also shows how the working class members of such a chamber would have more interest in expanding and promoting industry, than the elite business people pursuing their own interests in neoliberal economics. It also recommends that the chamber should not be composed of a single party. Additionally, a workers’ chamber may in time form part of a system of workers’ representation in industry, similar to the Yugoslav system. The chapter concludes that while the need for such a chamber may be removed by a genuine working class Labour party, this has been seriously weakened by Tony Blair’s turn to the right and partial abandonment of working class interests. Establishing a chamber to represent Britain’s working people will be immensely difficult, but it may be a valuable bulwark against the domination of parliament by the corporate elite.

I’m considering publishing it myself in some form or another, possibly through the print on demand publisher, Lulu. In the meantime, if anyone wants to read a sample chapter, just let me know by leaving a comment.

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Hope Not Hate on Mosleyite, Eugenicist Kipper and his Attacks on the Rest of His Party

April 17, 2016

Ryan Fleming, the Nazi Satanist and wannabe vampire, isn’t the only Rightist to have tried putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. Matthew Collins in the anti-racist, anti-religious extremism magazine, Hope Not Hate, has also written a piece about Joseph William Evans, the Kipper candidate for the Boothby and Ellenbrook Ward in Salford. As well as being a party activist, Evans has described himself as an enthusiast for the views of Oswald Mosley and eugenics, and has written two books on them. These are Problems of Democracy and Eugenics: The Hope Denied, both on Amazon. Oswald Mosley was the leader of the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s just before World War II, while eugenics is the discredited science of selective breeding that saw hundreds of thousands of people sterilised as a threat to the biological stock of the human race in the Europe and America, and murdered outright by the Nazis during the Third Reich.

Evans is also unimpressed by the people in his own party. He states he has lost his faith in it for trying to suppress his views. He accuses them of lying to the public, and going overboard to show its members mixing with Black people in order to dispel their racist image.

See the article at: http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/ukip/salford-ukip-candidate-launches-fierce-attack-on-his-own-party-4839

Given Evans’ own support for Mosley’s ideas, I wonder why he isn’t in the avowedly Fascist group, the New British Union. Its leader and members so desperately want to be Mosley and the BUF that they positively scream it at you. They even have an all-black uniform, complete with cap, and flags with a lightning bolt symbol, rather like Mosley’s. No doubt they dream one day of winning an election, in which case they’ll party like it’s 1939.

Now there are problems with democracy. It’s constructed to provide popular government, rather than good government. Though considering the way it’s been perverted and twisted by decades of micromanagement, spin doctors and highly staged political events, modern democracy could possibly be best described as a sham, designed to provide a populist veil for what is actually a corporatist oligarchy manipulating politics. And you could possibly justify Mosley’s plan to replace the unelected House of Lords with a Chamber of Corporations, as in Fascist Italy. This would be organised according to industry, and include representatives of the trade unions and labour, as well as management, in order to debate and manage the national economy. Such as system could possibly be advocated on the grounds that it would be an extension of democracy, representing the people as workers. G.D.H. Cole makes precisely this case in his Guild Socialism Restated, in which he argued for a quasi-syndicalist reorganisation of British industry and the state in order to extend democracy into the economic and industrial spheres.

But I really don’t think Evans is interested in extending democracy. After the War, Mosley stated that he was no longer in favour of the Corporate state, considering it ‘too bureaucratic’. I also can’t imagine Evans, as a Kipper, also having any enthusiasm for another of Mosley’s ideas – that of a united Europe under a kind of international Fascist corporatist order. Other ideas of Mosley’s are also likely to be non-starters. For example, Mosley wanted east Africa to be developed for White colonisation. Well, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe have had their independence for three decades and more now. And even if they don’t like the rulers they have now, they probably don’t want the return of White rule. That was why they kicked us out in the first place. And they certainly won’t want to be displaced and dispossessed in favour of further White colonists.

This just about leaves only dictatorship and authoritarianism as the Mosleyite solution to the problems of democracy. Which contrasts very much with Evans’ statement that he is trying to encourage feelings of revolt and emancipation. Unless, of course, he’s heading down the same path as the German Neo-Nazis in sneering at democracy as ‘democratorship’ – demokratur. The other policy of Mosley’s that also springs to mind that might be favoured by Evans is his advocacy of a form of apartheid – for cultural reasons – to keep Jews and non-Whites separate from the rest of the British population.

According to his website, Evans also has another book due to be published soon. It’s an attack on the monarchy, The Queen Must Go. He rants about how Brenda is an oppressive institution, soaking up our cash. He has a point in that an hereditary monarchy is an anomaly in an era of democracy, and the royal family is expensive to maintain. There are millions of people, who undoubtedly would like to see a republic. Just as there are millions of others, who believe the Queen does an excellent job as a non-political head of state, and stress the importance of history and tradition. In this debate, Evans may well have scored an own goal. Possibly the strongest argument for retaining the monarchy is that, so long as it exists and remains above politics, it provides a check to Nazis like him taking control.

But if that’s his views on the monarchy, then I’m not surprised the other Kippers don’t like him. I got the impression that UKIP was very much on the side of the traditionalist, ultra-Conservative right, who definitely did not want further fiddling with the constitution, and very much wanted to retain the monarchy, thank you very much. And if that’s the case, then it’s no wonder he’s fallen out with them.

So, in other words, it seems to be business as usual with the Kippers. Another member comes out as a Nazi, and causes further controversy within the party. Given the factionalism and controversies over membership that have already broken out, I do wonder how long it can continue as a single, unified organisation.

G.D.H. Cole and the Guild Socialist Criticism of British Schools

March 23, 2014

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G.D.H. Cole: Socialist intellectual and founder of Guild Socialism

The barring of 14 academy chains from running any more schools this week reminded me of G.D.H. Cole’s criticism of the schools’ system of his time. Cole was a former member of the Fabian Society and one of the founders of Guild Socialism. This was similar to Syndicalism, in that it advocated that industries should be taken over and managed by the trade unions through a system of industrial democracy, in which the workers in the factories and other places of work would elect their managers. Unlike Syndicalism, there would be some kind of residual state institution to represent the interests of the consumers, and the economy and society as a whole would be governed by an Industrial Guilds Congress, which would take over the role of the TUC, and a National Commune. Guild Socialism effectively ended in Britain with the collapse of the 1926 General Strike, when it appeared that the trade unions and direct action could not take on the full force of the state.

In his 1920 book, Guild Socialism Restated, Cole commented on the poor quality of the British educational system. He considered it servile, staffed by poorly trained teachers and classes that were far too large. He believed that the major factor in the poor quality of British education was also the low status of the teachers themselves. This could only be improved by giving them more freedom to manage their service within the structure of Guild Socialism. Cole wrote

This servility of present educational arrangements is traced by its critics to various causes. Some dwell, quite rightly, on the inordinate size of the classes which the unfortunate teacher is called upon to teach, and point out, with perfect truth, that it is impossible to communicated education to a mob. But the size of classes, while it is a serious aggravation of the servility of the system, is not the root cause of its servility. Other critics are content to say that the system is servile because it is capitalist, and it is to the interest of capitalists to train contented wage-slaves. This is certainly true; but it only drives us back to the further problem of the means by which capitalism succeeds in imparting this servile character to what should be a great agent of spiritual enfranchisement. The fundamental answer, I think, is to be found in the present status and equipment of the teacher, who is, under existing conditions, as much a wage-slave as any hireling of the industrial system, and worse exploited than most. The teacher is afforded only a quite inadequate and often inferior training, sometimes in a University, but more often in an institution that is not quite as good as a University. He or she, with this shoddy equipment, is then pitchforked into a school, and told to teach, under the supervision of a horde of inspectors, according to Board of Education instructions, under the control of an Education Authority whose members usually know nothing about education, and in an atmosphere of jealousy created directly by the dire economic distress of the teacher, and the scarcity of promotions carrying a reasonable salary or reasonable opportunities,. It is no wonder at all that, under these conditions, very many teachers can be accused of being “narrow-minded” and not too efficient. They would be miracles if they were otherwise, and, in the circumstances, the work which many of them do is little short of miraculous. But there is a limit to miracles; and the majority of teachers are human beings, and many have come to be teachers, not because they have a vocation for teaching, but because, in the present scramble, even the worst-paid professions have some economic attractions superior to those of starvation or mercenary marriage.

The only way of changing the character of the educational system is by changing the status of the teacher; for the teachers alone can purify education, and they can do so only if the conditions enable them to make a beginning. We shall set our feet on the right road in respect of education only when we make teaching a fully self-governing profession; and we shall get a good and liberating educational system only when we have helped the teachers to use their freedom to purge education of its present capitalistic and economic taint.

G.D.H. Cole, Guild Socialism Restated (New Brunswick: Transaction Inc. 1980) 99-101.

Few would want to give teachers total freedom to manage schools, after the horrors and excesses of some of the progressive educational policies implemented in the 1960s and 1970s. Other parts of Cole’s critique of the education system still remain extremely relevant, after nearly a century: large classes, poor pay and low status have forced many people to leave the profession, who were initially drawn to it. The actual standard of professional education given to teacher is often extremely high, but even here Gove and the Tories wish to turn the clock back with the plans to remove the requirement for teaching qualifications for the privatised academies. I can remember when the teachers struck in the 1980s against Margaret Thatcher’s proposed educational reforms. They were afraid that these would not only lead to them working for lower pay with worse conditions, but also that their pupils education would also be damaged as a result. And they were right.

Unfortunately, education is very much used as a political football. It is not just local councils that know and care little about it that have damaged it, but also the major political parties, like the Tories and Tory Democrats. They seem to regard it merely as an arena in which they can gain votes through ill-thought out tinkering and appealing to popular sentiment against teachers. It’s about time this stopped. If Gove really wants to improve education, he should scrap the privatisation programme and start listening to teachers themselves.