Clause IV’s Moment?

by .
Originally published in Compass

There’s been quite a lot of talk about Jeremy Corbyn shifting back to the much disputed ‘clause iv’ of the Labour Party’s constitution.

But its important to recall that the clause’s wording which the neoliberals under Blair and Brown repudiated was the 1944 version 2 of the clause, which aimed at public ownership, interpreted as nationalisation. But Sidney Webb’s 1917 version spoke about the need:

“To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.”

Whilst the interpretation of ‘common ownership’ can be much disputed, to my mind that clause iv v1 is a great foundation vision for the Next Economy, an economy which is post growth, post capitalist, economically democratic and true to the socialist ideals which are the origins of the Labour Party. Corbyn would do well to consider how to update this vision to help support the flourishing of the Next Economy.

Beyond state versus market

If Corbyn really has ambitions to move us beyond the dead dialectic between state and market, collective versus individual then now is the moment to do so. Its no surprise that Blair could not do so, as to all reactionaries and neoliberals anything which smacks of collective solutions are anathema.

But surely someone who purports to be a radical reformer ought to be able to tune into the emergent Next Economy, learn from it and support it. Doing so could represent a vital renewal, not just for Labour, but for politics in general.

You can read the rest of this article on Compass

Sign up to be kept up to date