FEBRUARY 1982 - VOLUME 3 - NUMBER 2
British Parliamentarian Blasts the Three "M"s
"Militarism, monetarism, and multinational capitalism" represent the greatest threats on the world scene today, says Stuart Holland, member of the British parliament. The Labor Party economist, addressing a seminar of the Washington-.based Institute for Policy Studies on January 14, claims "we are up to our necks" in what he terms "the crisis of the 3m's."
"A transformation of the mode of production" has occurred over the past 30 years, says Holland. In the domestic economies of Western countries, "monopolization" has increased dramatically, bringing with it a qualitative change in the power of business "to set prices." "The top 100 companies in Britain own 50% of production," up from 20% in the 1930s, Holland notes. What is more, he says, in each sector of the economy, "four or five" firms dominate, leaving thousands of small, local firms to share an ever dwindling part of the market.
Internationally, "multinationalization" has changed the face of the economy. British and U.S. companies, Holland says, no longer make the bulk of their products in their "home" countries. For instance, "U.S. business is producing goods abroad," says Holland, "whose value is nearly four times the value of goods produced in the U.S."
The chief reason for this shift? Labor costs. "American big business and British big business are actually paying one tenth to one twentieth" the wages they would have been paying if they hadn't moved "to Latin America or Asia," he claims.
"For controlling multinationals," Holland recommends "public enterprise, price controls, and planning ' agreements." Of these, Holland places most emphasis on price controls and planning agreements.
"Strategic price controls for strategic firms," which he defines as the top half dozen or so firms in each sector, will hold back inflation, Holland contends, blaming these firms for causing inflation by excessive price hikes.
"Planning agreements," explains Holland, would bring the companies, the government, and labor together into the boardroom to look over the books, decide on investments and agree on policy. "The key thing about planning agreements is they must include the unions," says Holland, distinguishing his model from that of the Japanese government. "It's a challenge to what, when, where, how, in whose interest, capitalists can act."
Asked why any company would go along with such an arrangement, Holland answers that the government has "leverage" at its disposal to bring the big companies around. "No corporation will get public spending contracts or government incentives unless they accept the planning agreements," says Holland. Currently, most major British companies are engaged in some work under government contract.