Monday, July 07, 2008

What does a positive alternative look like?

The following is a summary of a platform developed jointly by the French Communist Party and the Socialist Party in '72. It reflects to a certain extent the influence of the '68 May events. Wolfgang Leonhard is the summarizer. Not perfect by any means, but at least suggestive.

"Nationalization is the economy:

The fundamental principle of capitalist economy, profit maximization, leads to an unequal rate of growth and does not satisfy the principal needs of the population, but rather, aggravates social inequalities. Instead, equal growth should lead to a comparable increase in the standard of living and, more importantly, should be of the most benefit to the most disadvantaged classes of the population. Natural resources, the armaments industry, the space and aircraft industry, the atomic industry, and the pharmaceutical industry should be nationalized in their entirety as well as commercial banks and private insurance companies. The electronics industry (computers) and the chemical industry should be nationalized to a large extent. The state should also participate financially, until it owns a majority of shares in each of the iron, steel, and petroleum industries as well as in air and sea transportation. The public sector should be broadened, democratized, and restructured, but there should still be a considerably important private sector. The stockholders of nationalized industries would be compensated, whereby a distinction would be made between owners of small and middle-sized industries living on their acquired savings, on the one hand, and owners of large industries on the other.

Direction of the Nationalized Industries:

The nationalized sector of the economy should be directed and controlled by enterprise committees which determine and implement investment and production procedures according to a democratic plan. The employees should be more closely involved in the direction of the enterprise and continually informed about all problems. The economy should be subject to democratic planning.

Agriculture:

On the regional and departmental level, land offices should be established and run by elected farmers together with state representatives and representatives of the district councils. THese land offices have purchase options on all land used for agriculture. The cooperative alliances in the areas of production, manufacture, and distribution of agricultural products should be supported, extended, and democratized.

Foreign Trade, Currency, and Financial Policies:

In order to protect the economy against speculation, the government should exercise stronger control over the exchange of foreign currency and especially over the movement of capital by multinational corporations between France and all foreign countries. The extent of foreign direct investment in France as well as French investment abroad should be determined and controlled according to state planning and the state economic policy. The National Bank for Investment should be entrusted with the financing of a large part of industrial investments, and the French issuing bank should exercise a stricter control over foreign trade credit.

Salaries, Jobs, and Working Conditions:

A new national minimum wage should be established for all professions and should be regularly revised according to a reasonable price index with consent of the trade unions. A sliding wage scale should be created on the basis of this price index. The retirement age for men should be lowered to sixty and that of women to fifty-five, and working time should be reduced to forty hours a week for a five-day week with full pay. Free medical care should also gradually be established.

Education:

Primary educational institutions, which are run on a private or parochial basis and which receive public financing, should be nationalized in order to create a single lay educational service. Throughout the entire school system democratic administrative councils should be formed, consisting of representatives of the state, faculty members, and students and should cooperate on different levels. Nevertheless, the main responsibility and decision-making authority should remain in the hands of the government. University students should participate in decision-making on all levels. In the realm of research, scientists, economic representatives, consumers, and state representatives should work together on state committees. University students as well as older secondary students should participate on all committees.

Freedom and Rights: Freedom of thought, freedom of expression, the inviolability of privacy and secrecy of private correspondence and telephone conversation must be guaranteed. Each citizen should be protected against all attacks on his private life and religious freedom, and freedom of conscience must be guaranteed by the separation of church and state. The spread of racist and anti-Semitic discrimination should be prosecuted by law. All rules and regulations which restrict free practice of the right to strike should be eliminated. In addition, every three years the Parliament should elect a parliamentary commissioner responsible for the protection of rights, who would carry out inquires into reported areas of violations of rights and who would present his findings to the Parliament.

Decentralization and Democratization of the State Apparatus:

A far-reaching decentralization must be undertaken; planning, decision-making, administrative duties, and the means of financing should be transferred to autonomous regional and local institutions. Democracy must be further developed on the local level in order to afford the citizens more opportunities to participate in the development of their communities. Moreover, the prevalent controlling influence of the prefects over the local self-government must be eliminated. Private enterprises may not employ leading public servants who are responsible for overseeing those private enterprises unless a period of four years has elapsed since the individual had left the private firm

Press and Information Services:

Mass media should no longer be dependent on capital. An assistance fund should be established for press enterprises: tax exemptions, extra allowances for the high cost of paper, and a preferential staff should be established to benefit newspapers and magazines. All publications which are issued by private corporations or which are connect with financial, industrial, or commercial companies should be excluded from these privileges. The state radio and television must control all stations in French territory and must be directed by an administrative council which is comprised of representatives from the Parliament, of employees of radio and television, and of qualified radio listeners and television viewers. Private radio and television companies which broadcast into France from abroad must pay both a commercial tax and an added tax.

Foreign Policy and the Attitude Toward NATO:

In the interests of disarmament, all forms of strategic atomic weapons must be halted immediately, the sales of weapons and armaments to racist, fascist, or imperialist governments must cease. Moreover, arms sale abroad must be well regulated. A government comprised of Communists and Socialists would advocate simultaneous dissolution of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Warsaw Pact and would support all measures leading to an eventual attainment of this goal. France must refuse to reintegrate itself into NATO but would not hesitate, in case of emergencies, to conclude defensive alliances and nonaggression pacts. A government of the unified left would strive to lead the country to independence from political-military blocs but would respect France's responsibilities within the Atlantic alliance.

The Attitude Toward the EEC:

France would take part in the construction of the EEC and its institutions with the goal of "freeing it from the domination of big capital, democratizing its institutions, supporting the demands of the workers and directing the community's achievements toward their interests." In addition, France will be careful to preserve within the EEC its freedom of action to carry out its own political, economic, and social program. "

Obviously there are some holes here, particularly when the alternative to capitalist media is stated as complete nationalization of media under the control of the State--as opposed to community based independent organizations existing within the bigger framework of a socialist society, but in general a very interesting doc.

From the book "Eurocommunism: Challenge for East and West"

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