Class Conflict and Class Collaboration: The AES and the Working Class
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The Alternative Economic Strategy’s heavy focus on industrial democracy reflected the extent to which it grappled with a dilemma at the heart of its socialism: whether it was to be a strategy to encourage workers’ resistance in industry, or for industrial stability in the interests of Britain’s economic productivity. Although the AES contained both ideas, it was ultimately guided by the latter objective. The AES sought to incorporate industrial democracy into its ‘social contract’ for economic co-operation, proposing a new settlement between capital and labour for economic efficiency and to the advantage of the working class. Others on the AES left questioned the class-collaborative foundations of such proposals. Yet they failed to resolve the central tension in their approach: their reluctance to break with the AES politics of ‘viable’ reforms undermined their express opposition to ‘class collaboration’.