Friday, February 20, 2009

Big Auto Crisis is the Crisis of Capitalism

The time has come to quit pussy footing around the issue at hand. Capitalism is in collapse. But the truth is that factories still are capable of production, raw resources are still available, technology has increased worker productivity, and workers are still able to work. So why are GM and Chrysler incapable of being productive. Because they rely not on creating products but creating profit. And the bottom line is that while their Canadian factories are some of the most productive they now face closure. No bail out by taxpayers, no bail out by bond holders (that's you folks who own mutual funds and bonds, including your pension funds which are institutional bond holders) nor concessions by workers will end the bleeding at GM or Chrysler. Indeed you can include Ford in that as well.
Instead of bailing out the Big Three it is time to fire the executive class, stop the bleeding of white collar and blue collar jobs and socialize big auto under workers control. In fact that should be the agenda of the left from the NDP and CLC through to the more radical of the left.
And yet nowhere do I hear the call to socialize capital under workers control. Despite statist attempts to nationalize banks and financial institutions by various governments of diverse ideologies, this is simply a public bail out of private capital.
Capitalism is the problem contrary to Gordon Brown, George Bush and Stephen Harper, it is not the solution. The solution is not taxpayer stimulus of existing infrastructure of capitalism and its state. Rather it is the complete and total overhaul of capitalism by socializing it, recognizing that capitalism is currently publicly funded by workers wages, pensions and taxes. It is time to restructure all production under workers control, to reconstitute government as the administration of things rather than people.
Just as big auto cannot restructure itself neither can capitalism. Ownership at GM and Chrysler has not changed, the executives have not changed, the command structure of the organisation has not changed. Nor has concessions, nor bail outs changed the fact that big auto like capitalism in general is simply about the creative destruction of workers and factories, in order to get slim enough to increase the bottom line; profit. And what is profit? It is the surplus value accumulated for further investment to make, more profit. It is this simple equation which exposes the capitalist system as being incapable of solving its own crisis. Which is not a crisis of production but of profit making.
This is the solution that needs to be shouted from the roof tops. And yet I find no cheerleaders for socialism, rather the left seems as despondent as the apologists for capitalism. It is time to challenge the established propaganda of the day that capitalism is a horrible system but it is better than the alternative. The alternative is socialism which contrary to popular mythology is not the same as state owned public works. Socialism is socialized capital, and production under the democratic control of those who own and use it that is us the vast majority of people.
Socialism as a democratic restructuring of capitalism and its statist forms is the unknown country, still to be explored. In this crisis it is time to begin the broad discussion that was so vibrant forty years ago, after the failures of Stalinism and Labourism, about new forms of community and worker control, extending democracy to the work place and into our public institutions, etc.
Unless we have a vibrant vision of a new world, being built in the shell of the old, we will not be grave diggers of capitalism, but rather labour and its political parties will simply dig themselfves into a grave created for them by the current capitalist crisis. Their lack of imigination is their failure to see beyond things as they are, because inevitably for the past fifty years they have abandoned the belief in the revolutionary potential of the working class they claim to represent.


There Is An Alternative To Capitalism

Auto Solution II

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janfromthebruce said...

I love this line but I would reword it to flow better.
"Because they rely not on creating products but creating profit."

Because auto corporations focus on creating profits rather than focus on creating products.

janfromthebruce said...

Hi Eugene, so this am I'm reading headlines from national newswatch and this article in the Edmonton Journal catches me eye: Doling out bailout billions is futile Good tax dollars poorly spent to rescue Big Three buried by flawed business model.

Anyway, I'm sure you would be very surprised to know that share the same idea that the big 3 share a bade business model, but unlike you they blame that on - get ready - unions. My, what a surprise that the canwest rag would blame unions for forcing the auto makers make "big autos" to pay all those benefits for workers and retirees on their dole.

It was all about making their unions happy.
But mostly the Big Three are in trouble because they allowed themselves to become carmakers rather than car sellers. They permitted themselves to make concessions to their unions that forced them to concentrate more on building cars than on selling them for a profit.

I guess we do see the world quite different - whereas you and me said that big auto is in trouble cause they focused on making profit rather than making autos, and right-wing rag says it's cause they focused on making autos (that those unions made them do) rather than on profit. Holy batman, please put this bankrupt news conglomerate out of business. cheers!

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