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SYNDICALISM AS INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY

WORKERS OF EUROPE UNITE

In 1953, Union Movement published a small 12 page pamphlet entitled “A Workers’ Policy through Syndicalism”. This was to remain an integral part of Oswald Mosley’s post-war vision of European Socialism. But the man directly responsible for this important propaganda publication was Alexander Raven Thomson who, only a few years later, was to die of cancer, in great agony, on the floor of UM’s headquarters in Vauxhall Bridge Road in Central London, serving the cause to the end. As author of the pre-war British Union “Bible”, The Coming Corporate State, Raven was to leave his mark again on the post-war era with this equally revolutionary statement in the form of workers’ control through industrial democracy. It is and shall always be the essence of the social and industrial policy of the coming and revitalised National Party of Europe.
I shall make this pamphlet the main focal point of reference but must further bring to the readers’ attention that section in the European Declaration at the Conference of Venice in 1962 on which our continued support for the idea of a National Party of Europe is based. In section 6 it is stated, “That industries already nationalised will be better conducted by workers’ ownership or syndicalism than by state bureaucracy, but the system of the wage-price mechanism will, in full employment, make irrelevant the question of the ownership of industry by reason of the decisive economic leadership of elected government, and will bring such prosperity, that workers will have no interest in controversies which belong to the nineteenth century”.
Nine years after Raven Thomson’s pamphlet, we had a common agreement between all the national parties attending that historic conference which proves that great revolutionary ideas affecting the lives of our European brothers and sisters can gain consensus without any problems.
However, since that clause in the NPE’s statement of policy we have seen most nationalised industries in Britain sold to the private sector with the consequence of unprecedented levels of inefficiency and corruption going hand in hand with the “fat cat” culture of Thatcherism, now inherited and promoted by the government of this day. Worst still, all our public utilities were privatised to become part of the free-for-all of global capitalism. Free market forces were unleashed to devour everything in the belief that this predatory system will always right itself just as nature does not tolerate a vacuum and will always tend towards a balance of all things. This is not the case in practice because what we have under a capitalist system is an increasing imbalance of power and wealth between the multinational giants and the working populations of the world.
The Union Movement pamphlet attacked both the monopoly of power enjoyed by private capitalism in the form of financial empires and the state capitalism of the old nationalised industries where a new bureaucratic ruling class held the real power. Nationalisation was nothing more than rule by a parasitic oligarchy ... one set of privileged rules for them and another for the workers. Raven attacked the civil servants, trade union careerists, clapped-out politicians and the wiliest of the former employers as the “old pal” network that ruled under nationalisation.
The alternative is syndicalism, which means workers’ ownership under a system based on industrial democracy. It is a policy based on ideas of fairness and efficiency that places responsibility on all in a culture of teamwork. No more “them and us” but, rather, the vital elements that ensure an industry operating for the benefit of all. By these vital elements we include operatives, engineers, workers’ managers, the buyers and salesmen. Each one is an important part of the team, sharing the profits of an efficient and thriving industry.
What of the old industrial ruling class in the nationalised industries or the “fat cats” of the private sector? Their days of living off the backs of the workers will be over. So too, the shareholders who have never played any role in production in the industries but sit back waiting for their dividends to bear fruit ... instead, the only shareholders will be the workers themselves by right of ownership of their own industries. We shall abolish all parasitism in society where there will be opportunity for all and privilege for none. That is what we mean by “European Socialism” as proposed by Oswald Mosley as leader of Union Movement.
But syndicalism does not mean the state monopoly of the former eastern Soviet state system. That was an equally abhorrent system, as abhorrent as the wage-slavery of monopoly capitalism. Individual initiative in the form of free enterprise will be the powerful engine of the industrial system we propose. Small businesses and small retail outlets will prosper because large labour forces are not involved and are therefore not susceptible to exploitation. The smaller businesses will continue to function so long as they adhere to a code of adequate wages and decent working conditions. The initiative and energy always emanates from the pioneering individual and for the creation of industries we rely on such people to sow the seeds of future growth. Free enterprise will therefore complement the larger structures run on syndicalist lines.
Having said that, an industry is syndicalised when it is large enough to warrant a system of industrial democracy and it passes from the ownership of its previous owners to one of an assembly of workers. An interim period of transition is advised when part-ownership on both sides is guided in order that the workers can become acquainted with the running of their industry.
This revolutionary policy put paid to the idea that Mosley’s movement was a “right-wing” force or, as the Marxist would put it, a fascist organisation acting as the last bastion of capitalism. Fascism never sought to be the shock troops of a predatory and corrupt capitalism but that is history. In the post-war era Mosley met the social and economic problems face on because, as a technocrat, he wanted to make things work. That was at the very centre of his mind ever since a Labour government rejected his advanced proposals for curing the unemployment problems of the early 1930s, inducing him to resign from that government and follow a different path.
Throughout his political life he was driven by a need to recapture the initiative that he undertook in his time in political office ... to change the system and get a fair deal for the workers while curing the problem of mass unemployment.
Syndicalism is the only morally justified system that reconciles the age-old conflict between the owners of industries and the workers that have ever been the backbone of labour. One day it will be the basis of industrial democracy throughout all of Europe.