The Cry for Nationalization

The People
May 1996
Vol. 106 No. 3

50 YEARS AGO

THE CRY FOR NATIONALIZATION

(WEEKLY PEOPLE, June 1, 1946)

Stalinists and Norman Thomas "Socialists" are not the only ones to set up a cry to "nationalize" the railroads and the coal mines. Democrats and Republicans are also toying with this "solution" to the problems of "monopolies" and "strikes." Thus, the strongly New Deal NEW YORK POST observes that, "If the coal industry cannot function as a free industry should, in a free capitalism, it must face the hard fact that the only course ultimately open to any responsible government would be to nationalize it." This would mean, the POST adds, that the use of the strike weapon would "constitute treason."

The Republican senator from Vermont, George D. Aiken, also believes that, "Unless the tide of industrial unrest is stemmed, the eventual result will be...nationalization...." Nor does Sen. Aiken regard this development as fatal to capitalist rule.

"When a necessity of life becomes a monopoly," he said in a Senate speech during the current debate on a new labor law, "we may well consider making it a publicly owned one. In this category we already find railroads and power distribution lines. Call this socialism if you like, but remember that Canada already owns a great railroad system, AND NOWHERE DOES PRIVATE INDUSTRY EXERCISE GREATER CONTROL OVER GOVERNMENT THAN IN CANADA." (Italics ours.)

Of course! Mere "nationalization" is not socialism. "Nationalization" can strengthen capitalist rule. As De Leon trenchantly observed, "If such overthrow of private ownership were socialism, then the overthrow of the one-time private ownership of military forces, and the present state ownership of the same, would be socialism. Obviously, that is not socialism." Socialism is collective ownership and democratic management through an industrial union administration.

That is socialism, nothing short of that.