Socialist Action (SA) is the current orthodox Trotskyist group in the US. In September, they released their proposals for dealing with the current capitalist economic crisis. Titled “A Workers’ Action Program to Meet the Economic Crisis“, SA draws out a long manifesto (not forgetting to include many exclamation points) of how working class should address said crisis.
We’ll address some of the more absurd proposals this would-be vanguard has for the working class.
• We call on the leaders of the AFL-CIO and Change to Win federations, and of independent unions, to call an Emergency Congress of Labor at which representatives of the working class can draw up a set of demands and vote on a strategy to win them.
SA is calling for a new congress which will vie for power against the current congress in Washington. In other words, SA is calling for an immediate period of dual power and thus a likely civil war. Does SA actually believe the working class ready for such adventures? If not, why propose it?
Note they also don’t declare how this “Congress” will be structured, how delegates/representatives would be elected, etc. As this list is full of flights of fancy, why not throw in “democratically elected”? Unless you don’t want it…• Nationalize the entire banking system under the control of capitalism’s victims, not its agents! …Make the banks, corporations and the ruling class pay the full price of the crisis!
OK, we’ll come back to this demand later.
• As one of its first tasks in mobilizing support for the demands adopted at it, the Congress [fnb note: Congress of Labor] should organize committees in every workplace in which workers’ jobs, pensions and health benefits are threatened by the crisis, and in every neighborhood threatened by foreclosures and evictions.
• We demand an immediate halt to all foreclosures, cancellation of all interest on mortgages to banks and mortgage lenders, and renegotiating of all mortgage terms, including the principal and debt built up due to usurious interest rates, such negotiations to be led by workers’ and homeowners’ neighborhood committees.
So SA wants to nationalize the banks under worker control. Then they also want to cancel the repayment of principal and interest to these “worker controlled” nationalized banks. What would happen under this scenario? Surely a very quick collapse of banking.
And also don’t forget to throw in negotiations between the worker-bankers and the neighborhood committees to add further conflict between different segments of the class.Another ironic twist to this proposal is it would seriously effect foreign investments in the US, which include huge amounts from China. Now Socialist Action, being the orthodox Trotskyists they are, believe China is socialist. We disagree, but that’s not the point. The nonsense SA is proposing would undermine the economy of one of those “workers states” they believe in. Adds a new twist on the constant Trotskyist bickering over the causes of degeneration in the supposed workers states.
• We call for the nationalized banks to be merged into one public institution under the supervision of workers’ committees, which could then decide how that public bank’s funds can be used to rebuild society, based on the needs expressed in the plan of the Congress of labor and supplemented by demands of local workplace and neighborhood committees.
Ah, yes, an economy with commands flowing from the top to the workers. It works so well now, why change?
• The agribusiness and energy monopolies must be nationalized as a first step to dealing with inflation.How will this deal with inflation? Since what the SA is proposing is capitalism, the law of supply and demand will still apply. SA has just choked off capital to the banks by eliminating debts owed. Due to tightening ability for banks to lend, supply diminishes and costs increase.
• To combat inflation, we call for a sliding scale of wages that fully matches the Consumer Price Index (including food and energy, left out of the official CPI). Such a scale should be applied also to retirees. It must be monitored by workers’ and consumers’ committees, which could inspect and if need be take over companies claiming they can’t survive under the new wage schedule.
• In addition to the 6-hour day and 30-hour week, reflecting the gains in our productivity, we demand reduction of the retirement age to 55. We demand unemployment insurance at union wages and benefits.
Again, Socialist Action shows it’s complete ignorance of how capitalism operates. Reducing the hours of labor tightens the number of workers available to work. Demand will drive up cost of labor. Since credit would be tightened (see above) the double pinch of lessened supply and soaring labor costs could probably lead to a collapse of the market greater than G. W. Bush has accomplished.
Of course, Socialist Action has no expectation of actually implementing their program. It is simply a feel-good laundry list of demands cynically written to attract concerned workers to their organization.
SA adds nothing to the knowledge needed by workers to create socialism. Such ideas as abolishing the wage system and the market.