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New Left Review 1, January-February 2000

Pension funds are now huge forces in Anglo-American financial markets. Could they become levers of radical socialization, if their nominal collective ownership were activated from below? Henri Jacot of the French CGT doubts it. Robin Blackburn develops his argument that they might be unexpected sources of social change.



I am grateful to Henri Jacot for his critical reflections on my proposals for pension reform. Pension funds are a form of capitalist property, albeit a rather strange one. It might seem to some socialists that such funds should simply be abolished and that there is therefore something paltry about a mere programme for their reform. I am therefore pleased that Jacot notes the radical nature of the package I recommend. It aims to create a quite new pension fund regime—one entirely distinct from that associated with pension funds as we know them today, whether in the UK, the US, Chile or the Netherlands. In these countries, and a widening circle of imitators, large tax breaks are given to pension funds and professional fund managers, subject to the narrowest commercial objectives, supplant both policy-holders and any wider notion of the public interest.

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Robin Blackburn, ‘Reply to Henri Jacot’, NLR 1: £3

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