Leo Panitch, in New Left Review 125, provides an interesting analysis of modern corporatism. However, he chooses to criticise a passage from a pamphlet I wrote on unemployment, and in doing this blemishes his analysis with no less than three non sequiturs. Neither the pamphlet as a whole, nor the passage he quotes, support the interpretation which he offers. He makes the incorrect and unsustained implications from the quoted text that: (1) a notion of a ‘socialist corporate state’ is inferred, (2) ‘the state apparatus can be “captured” by the working class’ and (3) ‘that the working class can unite hegemonically on capitalist terrain’.

(1) is clearly absurd, (2) is explicitly denied in my book Socialism and Parliamentary Democracy, and (3) is also denied in my (critical) review of Mike Prior and David Purdy’s Out of the Ghetto (Labour Leader, November 1979). None of the three propositions are supported by the pamphlet.

What the pamphlet does suggest is: (1) that corporatism is partially de-stabilized by the questions it raises about the social control of its power, (2) that it is an unstable formation, and (3) that progress towards corporatism should be de-railed, in part by raising questions of democratic rights, civil liberties, opposition to the strong state, etc.

I would have thought that Panitch would have agreed with these propositions.


Geoff Hodgson