images“State capitalism is usually described as an economic system in which commercial (i.e. for-profit) economic activity is undertaken by the state, with management and organization of the means of production in a capitalist manner, including the system of capital accumulation, wage labor, and centralized management.” – Wikipedia

While the Wikipedia writer understands that state capitalism is a form of capitalism, this is not well understood on the New Zealand left.  Much of this left, for instance, supports capitalism if the capitalist company is owned fully by the capitalist state.  This left campaigned in favour of such ownership in the referendum on whether the government should be able to sell 49% of shares in a number of State-Owned Enterprises.

But from the standpoint of the material interests of workers, how is being exploited by a company, functioning as a fully capitalist company, owned by the state preferable to being exploited by one 49% privately-owned, or even 100% privately-owned?  Workers are no better off materially.  In fact, when the state itself functions as a capitalist company it is more thorough – and more powerful – as the boss.

The widespread left support for state capitalism in New Zealand also acts to disorient workers and retard the development of any meaningful class consciousness.  It reinforces illusions in the nature of the state and of capitalism where the state itself acts as the personification of capital.

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