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(en) Ireland, WSM anarchist journal - Workers Solidarity #100 - Thinking About Anarchism: Anarchism and Nationalisation by Alan MacSimóín

Date Mon, 17 Dec 2007 10:40:56 +0200

Can anarchists support nationalisation? ---- What should happen to the €51bn
gasfield off Rossport? Let Shell keep it and let the fat cats get fatter? Try to
make Bertie’s government nationalise it and use the wealth for our benefit?
At a time when the dominant economic thought is to privatise everything in
sight, it would take quite some pressure to make them nationalise anything, let
alone something they handed over (in return for a dig out’?) to a mammoth
multinational. A lot more than petitions, publicity stunts, and a few marches
would be required. We are looking at tens of thousands on the streets, probably
some civil disobedience and maybe even selective strike action.

Related articles from the WSM:
Thinking about anarchism: an introduction to libertarian ideas
More anarchist history and theory http://struggle.ws/wsm/revolution.html
Anarchism and nationalism http://struggle.ws/ws/2002/ws70/nation.html
Anarchism, socialism, and freedom http://struggle.ws/ws92/anarchism36.html
The need for revolution http://struggle.ws/ws94/ws42_evolve.htmll%22

So, it would take a large and assertive movement, with very widespread support
to force government to take over the Corrib gasfield. Not an easy task, but
there is nothing that says it’s impossible. If enough people are involved in
campaigning and are determined to not always be limited to ineffective means of
protest it can be done.

But what’s the point? We would have as much chance of getting something we need
from the extra cash as Bertie has of remembering his bank accounts. Left to
their own devices they would spend little, if any, of the extra revenue on
useful things like reopening hospital wards or building affordable housing. They
would be far more likely to use it to finance more ‘incentives’ and tax cuts for
their wealthy pals.

For the WSM, the important point is that if nationalisation were to be won by a
large and active movement of working people, that same movement would have the
will and confidence to force the government to spend at least some of the extra
cash on socially useful projects.

It would be a small reform, and it would not be a secure one. The government and
companies like Shell would be quick to look for ways to overturn the decision
and privatise the new state company.

But it would be a reform, one worth supporting. By bringing together the
questions of nationalising oil & gas resources and how the extra money should be
spent, we move that little bit closer to asserting working class interests in
opposition to the rights of property. And that’s pretty much it.

State ownership has nothing to do with socialism. There was a fair bit of state
ownership in Britain up to the 1980s (coal, rail, post, car assembly,
electricity, health, steel, phones, and much more). Not a lot of equality,
workers’ control, or anything we associate with socialism, was to be found.

Well, what about ‘communist’ Russia, where the state owned all the industries? A
dictatorship where there was just one boss, the state. No real trade unions, a
conscript army, no political freedom, gross inequality of wealth between Party
leaders and the working class.

Far from having anything to do with even the most warped view of socialism,
Russia was ruled by a capitalist class. Instead of the private sector type of
capitalism we live under, Russians lived under ‘state capitalism’. And under
both types of capitalism a small ruling class lived the high life by leeching
off the work of the vast majority.

Nationalisation takes us no nearer to socialism than does private capitalist
ownership. If you want to get rid of the division of people into bosses and
workers, it matters little whether your boss is Tony O’Reilly or the State – you
still have a boss.
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