Letter: Borrowed concepts, old slogans and Blair as Lion King

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The Independent Online
Sir: Can someone tell me what all the fuss is about? You refer to the dark mutterings of discontent about moves to scrap Clause IV of the Labour Party Constitution, committing it to the 'common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange'. But what's the problem?

After all, it does not exactly make much sense to talk about 'common ownership of the means of exchange'; exchange implies a private property relationship and, therefore, the absence of common ownership. You can only exchange something with someone if that person does not have the right of access to whatever it is that is being exchanged - because it is privately owned by you.

Real common ownership of the means of production has nothing to do with state control, which Tony Blair assumes Marx meant by socialism. It means, and logically can only mean, universal free access to the wealth produced by society, with production being organised on an entirely voluntary basis. In other (or rather Marx's) words, 'from each according to ability, to each according to need'.

So it will be no bad thing if the Labour Party did scrap Clause IV. At least it will then be more apparent what it really stands for. And that is not, and never was, common ownership.

Yours sincerely,

ROBIN COX

London, N7

5 October

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