Wham, bang, it's all over

Phil Kent reports discussion on the 'Economic measures' section of the CPGB's Draft Programme

The Draft programme envisages the revolution in Britain taking place as part of the developing world revolution. Nonetheless, despite the CPGB’s commitment to a Communist Party of the European Union, we expect that nation-states will still exist and furthermore because of different political tempos and structures the world revolution will be national in form. The CPGB’s principal task will be to deal with its own state.

The proposals currently contained in sub-section 4.3, ‘Economic measures’ (part of the section on ‘The character of the revolution’), are very broad-brush, because it is a developing scenario that is projected. On the one hand, there is the call for “a graduated inheritance tax targeted against the rich”, and, on the other hand, the demand that socially useful work should be “compulsory” for all except the sick and old, which implies that not only taxation, but money itself, has already been replaced by a system of labour tokens.

The revolution covers a period of working class advance in which capital is forced into retreat. During this period - initially of dual power - the working class matures as a ruling class and develops its independent organs of power. Our programme should not only defend the working class from the burden of capitalist crisis: it must also aim to ease the birth pangs of the new society.

It rejects the Trotskyist transitional programme as a revolutionary model. We do not look forward to a catastrophic collapse of capitalism, in which almost any call to working class self-interest forces the masses to rally spontaneously behind a vanguard party, armed with the ‘correct revolutionary theory’. Wham, bang, and it’s all over, with the nationalisation of everything substantial, and everybody is living happily in a socialist state. It is also a rejection of the Stalinist British road to socialism achieved through the power structure of the bourgeois parliament and a left-moving Labour Party.

Comrade Mary Godwin led the discussion on section 4.3 at the July 20 London communist forum and pointed out that it did not make it clear quite which period of the revolutionary process was being referred to. The answer is principally the period of revolutionary advance, though cap-italist economic forms will still exist.

Comrade Peter Manson queried whether we would really bother to force every able-bodied person to do socially useful work in the period following the revolution. He mentioned hermits and hippies, and workers who had won early retirement from their capitalist employers. Would we physically force them back to the workplace or confiscate their private pension to ‘persuade’ them?

Comrade Jim Moody pointed out that doing socially useful work was a life-enhancing experience for most people, while comrade Stan Keable noted that age is not a disability and in itself disbars no-one from doing socially useful work. So the exemption only for those “unable to do so for reasons of health or age” is incorrectly worded, he said. Pensioners who are able to continue working maychoose not to.

Comrade John Bridge defended the notion that socially useful work should be compulsory except for the sick and old. Of course, if people want to give up work once they reach retirement age, they have earned it, he said.