Saturday, November 29, 2008

A "Fantasy" Musing On The Auto Bailout- Ford, GM, Chrysler Workers Seize The Factories


Everybody is now familiar with the heart-rending plaintive cries of the cash-starved Big Three automakers whose heads have recently come to Washington (via their private jets- very definitely a bad public relations move, but par for the course), hats in hand, looking for a $25 billion dollar bailout from the government. That means public tax money (you and me, radical or conservative, it does not matter) for their private use. We have become inured to the facts behind this increasingly familiar scene over the past few months as it has become patently obvious that the capitalist lineup that runs the corporations of America has run out of steam, ideas and anything else except the capacity to beg for alms. The hard reality though is that, frankly, we as workers, don’t (or shouldn’t) give a damn. Let these behemoths go under, along with their museum piece historical curiosities-the SUV’s and over-sized trucks that have clogged the highways the past few years.

But wait a minute. What about the fate of the auto workers who will be unemployed and left to dangle in the wind if the American auto industry closes down? Well, here is my “fantasy” solution. The worker militants in the auto industry have no interest in the capitalist nationalizing of this bankrupt industry any more than we had an interest in the de facto nationalizations of the banks and credit markets that have occurred in the recent past. Worker militants also have no interest in some bogus “worker control” of industry under the current capitalist regime that we have no hope today of having lead to a workers government. Therefore the only alternative is for those who produced the wealth, productively used or squandered, should seize the factories and other auto assets, sell them off and distribute the proceedings among the workforce. Preposterous, you say. Well let me give you the capitalist “alternative” scenario-one or more of these monsters goes belly up and either some other auto company buys into the mess or THEY sell the assets for themselves, their creditors and their stockholders. I believe that the expression is carpe diem, which seems about right under the circumstances.

1 comment:

  1. December 17, 2008

    There is something of a scientific principle concerning the laws of nature that for every action there is a reaction. Fair enough. Apparently though this principle is applied by some political people willy-nilly as a law of politics as well. Case in point. Recently I made a “fantasy” (those quotation marks are there for a reason) musing concerning the fate of the cash- starved bailout-seeking American auto industry and what our response to such pleadings might be.

    Thus, for the sake of argument, I threw out the idea that the auto workers collectively should seize the factories and sell off the assets before the capitalists do so. In response to this little idea a reader, whom I assumed was some kind of Spartacist League supporter based on a the similarity of that person’s argument and a recent Workers Vanguard article on the auto crisis, railed that I was some kind of anarchist or worst, for calling for the elimination of a central cog in the wheel of American capitalism without a realistic chance to replace it now.

    Well, I agree that we are not ready to lead working people in the struggle for state power today. No question about that. Nor am I insensitive to the very real question of what to propose today as an alternative to the same old capitalist program of lay-offs, sell-offs and plant closures leaving workers high and dry. However, while I share many political views in common with the Spartacists I am not obliged to follow their lead on all questions. This space is an independent political one. That said, what really bothers me right now is how seriously the reader took my little idea, missing the real point.

    The main thrust of the comment was not to propose some return to pre-capitalist conditions, a rural idyll, but the need to fight in new ways this capitalist albatross around the necks of today’s working people. I was throwing out the seizure of auto assets as a way to highlight the very real contradictions between the fates of those who produce the goods of society and those who own them. Does anyone really believe that whatever bailout the auto industry gets under what governmental guise is going to stop the huge layoffs and destruction of international working class solidarity with ‘outsourcing’ and run-away shops that have been going on for decades? That, my friends, is the core, or should be, of our political propaganda today.