Reform that is helpful to the working class isn’t done out of the kindness of politicians’ hearts. It’s a release valve.
When the prison, stake or scaffold can no longer silence the voice of the protesting minority, progress moves on a step.
Regarding the welfare state:
It was an attempt to circumvent a repeat after WW2 of the kind of revolutionary atmosphere that pervaded Europe after WW1
They were concessions hard-won by decades of organization and action outside of the then existing structures
And it should be clear to anyone that the only way to preserve them and improve on them is with similar organization and action.
It should be clear to anyone who wants real and substantive change that this can’t be done through reform alone
We had a couple of decades of relatively positive reform after WW2 and there were still millions living in squalor in this country
And there still is now. And that’s just with a particular focus on conditions here.
This idea that we can go from what we’ve got now to pressuring government for UBI and more automation to a post-work world makes me laugh.
It’s fucking basic stuff. The class who owns the tools and runs the institutions owns and runs those things in its own interest
Why would they improve our lot at their expense without our hands round their throat?
All the evidence and all sense shows that they don’t give a toss how much we suffer.
Has there been anything but a token effort to help those thrown out of work by automation or other industrial restructuring?
Devastation of communities after the defeat of the miners’ strike should be a fucking massive warning sign to those welcoming automation…
…before there’s been any move towards radical change in who and how the tools and places of industry are owned and run.
And that radical change isn’t going to be achieved by reform through parliaments.
And as massive a thing as the NHS has been for people who couldn’t afford even the most basic healthcare before, it’s not without problems
These are problems you’ll see anywhere with nationalization of any industry. Nationalization isn’t revolutionary.
Nationalization is a change of bosses, not the abolition of them. How democratic was nationalized industry really?
Nationalization was as democratic as the system that carried it out. It’s hardly even a means to an end for the libertarian left.
It never belonged to you and it certainly never belonged to the workers employed there. It belonged to the state.
That idea was enshrined in nationalization as much as the idea of private property is enshrined in capitalism. There’s no difference.
So the idea that nationalized industry will lead to a socialist future is naive and harmful. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
The same fight still needs to be fought. To bring all production under real democratic control.
You can’t change how production is carried out and why it is carried out until this has happened.
Allowing or tolerating automation before this has happened is just kicking the problem down the road a bit…
…because you’ll be allowing and tolerating the immiseration of millions while it happens, while you wait for reform or for your moment.
And you’re giving capital a free rein to entrench this new way of producing and distributing as “just the way things work”.
Before long, the “new ways” become simply “the way it is”.
And meanwhile we haven’t moved ourselves forward at all, because we’ve been waiting for politicians to do it, or waiting for our “moment”.
We’ve been marveling at this new technology and the future world it’s promising to deliver us while capital uses it to deliver its own.
We’ve got to put ourselves in the position where we can use this technology to deliver that world for ourselves.
And we shouldn’t accept the immiseration of millions while capital puts this technology to use for its own ends.
More benefits or a universal basic income isn’t going to solve that problem. It won’t come close. It’s more of the same.
Because for one, what the state can give, the state can take away when it suits it.
For another, it would solve absolutely none of the existing structural inequalities. And there’s a chance it could make them worse.
In addition, at least traditionally, where does the power, the leverage of the working-class come from?
Automation in the workplace under capitalism is the building of a scab army that doesn’t ever even need to leave the workplace.
It comes down to this: we can’t sacrifice workers in the here and now to gamble on some future that isn’t made yet.
And if we tolerate capital-controlled automation that’s what we’re doing.
We can’t make automation work for us if we don’t control all aspects of how it is carried out.