Denationalization


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Denationalization

 

the return to private ownership of property (such as industrial enterprises, banks, land, and shares of stock) previously nationalized by the state. The purpose of denationalization is to strengthen the private capitalist sector, and it is a form of state financing of large monopolies.

Denationalization is carried out by selling state property, usually at reduced prices. At the same time, former owners are given a preferential right of purchase. Denationalization may be partial, as when some of the shares of stock of state companies are sold and state ownership is converted to a mixed state-private ownership. The metallurgical industry in Great Britain was denationalized in 1953 and the truck transportation industry in 1955. Laws passed in France in the 1950’s authorized the sale of 30 percent of the capital of Air France and transferred the firm France Color, which then produced 75 percent of the country’s dyes, into private hands. In the Federal Republic of Germany during the 1950’s the stock of more than 30 enterprises was sold to private capitalists. In Austria in 1957, 40 percent of the stock of the largest nationalized banks, Kreditanstalt and Lenderbank, and of several dozen industrial enterprises was transferred to private ownership. In Italy in 1959 the stock of two large chemical companies was similarly sold.

Another form of denationalization was the sale at reduced prices of enterprises built at state expense during World War II. In the United States in 1946 the large monopolies, which had rented 79 percent of all capacity built with state capital, purchased 70 percent of it at a price that averaged 60 percent of the initial cost. The situation in Great Britain was similar.

Acute class struggle develops around denationalization. The working people oppose denationalization, seeing state ownership as a factor in the further collectivization of capitalist production and a means of limiting the economic power of the monopolies. Monopoly capitalists usually strive for denationalization of highly profitable enterprises and sectors. Attempting to avoid open class struggle against denationalization, Western European capitalists carried it out during the 1950’s under the slogan of “people’s capitalism.” Partial denationalization by selling stock to production and office workers at state enterprises is used for the same purpose. Denationalization in the developing countries is usually carried out by reactionary and conservative regimes, frequently under the pressure of foreign capital, which has made denationalization the price of economic and military-political assistance by the imperialist states.

G. B. ARDAEV

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