21st Century Socialism

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  • Article: Cockshott, P. and Cottrell, A. and Dieterich, H. (2010) Transition to 21st century socialism in the European Union. In: Transition to 21st Century

Socialism in the European Union. CenturyXXI / Lulu.com, pp. 1-20.

URL = http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/25751/

This paper attempts to outline the economic steps that would be necessary to convert a capitalist economy like the EU into a socialist one. We examine the issue in very concrete terms and propose specific policy measures. The measures we propose differ significantly from the tradition of 20th century European Social Democracy.


Proposed Program

Cockshott, P. and Cottrell, A. and Dieterich, H.:

“Now, in the 21st century and in face of the most serious crisis of capitalism since the 1930s, there is an historic opportunity to reassert the original ideals and objectives of the socialist and democratic workers movements But this cannot simply be a repetition of the past.

In this proposal we try to develop an alternative that differs in the following ways from past European Socialism:

1. We do not place the nationalisation of industry at the center of our concerns; instead we emphasise a positive assertion of the rights of labour to the full value added.

2. We propose a radical restructuring of monetary policy to move the whole economy towards a non-money ‘equivalence economy’ based on working time.

3. We envisage transition as taking place not at the level of the nation state but within a democratised European Union.

Let us summarise key features of our conception of mature socialism:

1. The economy is based on the deliberate and conscious application of the labour theory of value as developed by Adam Smith and Karl Marx. It is a model in which consumer goods are priced in terms of the hours and minutes of labour it took to make them, and in which each worker is paid labour credits for each hour worked. The consistent application of this principle eliminates economic exploitation.

2. Industry is publicly owned, run according to a plan and not for profit.

Retail enterprises for example, work on a break-even rather than profit making basis. We envisage the transition to publicly owned enterprises as being a gradual process that will occur aft er rather than before the abolition of the wages system.

3. Decisions are taken democratically, at local, national and Union levels.

This applies in particular to decisions about the level of taxation and state expenditure. Such democratic decision making is vital to prevent the replacement of private exploitation with exploitation by the state. In addition we take seriously Marx’s aphorism that the liberation of the working classes must be the work of the working classes themselves. Th is is refl ected in our advocacy of direct participative democracy rather than cabinet or party government and also affects our philosophy of how a transition to socialism has to take place. Instead of the old Social Democratic emphasis on the direct action of the state in nationalising and taking over private companies, we advocate the establishment of positive legal rights for labour. These rights will, when collectively exercised by workers, bring to an end the exploitation of labour by capital.”