George Walford: Letter to the Socialist Standard (2)

Dear Editors.

The article “To Have and to Hold” in the August 1985 issue of the Socialist Standard says the capitalist class control the means of production. Other statements by the party say they do not.

Telling us that Dukes, Lords and so on own vast areas of Britain. the article goes on: “They can do what they like on their land.” But the party tells us that landlords receive rents. When they have rented out their land they can not do what they like with it.

The article says, four times, that the capitalists “own and control” (emphasis added) the means of production. But Principle No. 1 tells us that that all wealth is produced by the workers. Wealth is produced by operation of the means of production, and to operate anything is to exercise control over it. The capitalist class owns the means of production but (according to Principle No. 1) it is the working class that controls them. And no, the capitalist class does not have the power to exclude the working class from using the means of production; for capitalism to function the workers have to operate them. that is to say, to control them.

You may want to reply that the workers control only the details, that overall control remains with the capitalists. But the article tells us the capitalists “only own and control because the majority lets them.” If so then it is not only the detailed control of operations but also the ultimate power of overall decision that rests not with the capitalists but with the majority.

Once again the “Socialist” Party is denying what it says; when the different parts of the “case” are put together they cancel out. The “case” adds up to nothing.

Yours etc.

from Ideological Commentary 20, September 1985.