Letter: A bit back to front over Labour embracing capitalism

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PETER KELLNER argues that if Labour is ever to win another election, it must ditch socialism and commit itself to 'democratic capitalism'. This overlooks the inherent contradiction of 'democratic capitalism', and fails even to look for what matters behind fashionable myth and cliche.

Socialism is not essentially a matter of state monopoly or union bureaucracy, and capitalism is about property ruling people: the fact that more people now own houses and cars does not change the fact that those who have more can legitimately dominate those who have less - as investors, employers and purchasers of goods and services.

While socialism at best is a way of living as equals and managing together for the common good, capitalism can never be more than an unequal struggle for power through property.

Whereas democratic socialism is conceivable, 'democratic capitalism' is not. Parliamentary democracy has dispensed with the property qualification and shareholders have voting rights in company law, but there is nothing to stop one shareholder buying all the shares, and our voting rights as citizens do not extend to where we work. Employers' premises are the grand exception to the rules of social democracy and individual liberty - and must be for capitalism to survive.

Capitalism or socialism? I for one would trade both labels for the extension of social democracy into employment - and a small freehold, by right, in what is still commonly called Our Country.

Greg Wilkinson

Llanelli, Swansea