by Eric Trevett
“Not since the First World War has our banking system been so close to collapse,”
Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England.
“We who have looked to the self-interest of the lending institutes to protect shareholders’ equity, myself especially, are in a state of shock and disbelief,”
Alan Greenspan, former Chair of the United States Federal Reserve.
THE ECONOMIC and political crisis of capitalism once again proves the validity of the Marxist critique of capitalism. Those in the labour movement who contended that capitalism had found a way of becoming crisis-free and that boom-and-bust was a thing of the past have been proved wrong.
The present crisis may well prove to be the most profound in the history of the capitalist system. The capitalist media try to find a scapegoat to blame for this crisis. They point to greedy bankers and even Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been held responsible. But the real reason for the crisis is endemic to the capitalist system itself.
The crisis affects every capitalist country in the world, irrespective of whether they have capitalist or social democratic governments. The proof of this is the fast rising unemployment throughout the system with notable concerns going to the wall, giving rise to a further concentration of power to a shrinking elite.
Some people are amazed when told that the crisis results from too much production, too many goods, which the purchasing power of the market is unable to absorb. There simply is not enough purchasing power in the population.
Further proof of this is to be found in the sharp competition between enterprises resulting in sharp cuts in the price of commodities. At one time the rising price of oil up to about $150 a barrel was an exception to the general malaise. But that was caused by speculators and the price of a barrel has now sunk to under $40 a barrel, with the Middle East oil producers discussing cutting production in an effort to maintain prices and profits.
The letters of regret we had from gas and electricity companies that they were having to raise their prices substantially due to a sharp rise of fuel have not been followed by letters rejoicing that they are now able to cut the price of their products substantially.
The argument that the freeing of market forces would lead to a balancing out of supply and demand has also been exposed by the present crisis. Indeed the banks and motor corporations have turned to public funds to avoid bankruptcy. That means that taxation from the working classes is to be allocated to big business ventures.
The working class is to be even more philanthropic than those Robert Tressell wrote about in the book, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.
In the Unites States especially this development of bailing out the motor car industry is viewed with horror because it seems to smack of socialist legislation. Of course it’s no such thing and it undermines the argument against social ownership.
Capitalism needs a constantly expanding economy to realise maximum profits and to help establish political stability. Now there is contraction in the economy tens of thousands of workers are losing their jobs and half a million families are more than three months in arrears with their mortgage repayments.
Many of the recently made unemployed are from high salaries jobs and enjoyed big bonuses and lavish expense accounts. They thought they had secure jobs but the harsh realities of capitalism have ended that belief. They are workers and as such should be encouraged to participate in the struggles of the working class generally and its organisations. the answer, of course, is socialism
The answer to capitalism in crisis is, of course, socialism. To achieve that that capitalist state machine has to be replaced by a working class state machine. In the communist movement we put the issue more sharply: that the dictatorship of the capitalist class must be ended and the dictatorship of the proletariat established in its place.
Communists do not believe the state to be neutral; the capitalist state serves the interests of the capitalist class and the working class state serves the interests of the working class – and other sections of the population by putting an end to the exploitation of one person by another and landlordism.
Before socialism can be established there is much to be done in the field of organisational and ideological work. The working class has suffered some setbacks in the recent past. The defeat of the miners and the decimation of the engineering industry has weakened the trade union movement and undermined class consciousness.
But now there is growing anxiety among working people with growing discontent with the capitalist policies of the three major political parties.
There is not enough righteous anger over the domestic policies of privatisation and against the foreign policies, including the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan and the obstacles that British and US imperialism have put up against effective solidarity with the Palestinian people.
The labour movement should take advantage of the opportunities arising from the capitalist crisis to rally the working class with a renewed commitment to achieve a socialist society.
Fascists are also active in Britain, aiming to take advantage of the situation to introduce a much more dictatorial system to defend capitalism. In Germany the most reactionary sections of the capitalist class used the fascists to maintain their power, with the persecution of trade union and labour activists and any progressive elements – and of course the Jewish communities.
An important part of the work of the labour movement is to actively oppose the fascists whenever and wherever they make their play. The struggle against racism is necessary in the struggle for working class unity around a revolutionary perspective.
To further strengthen the socialist movement we should fight to restore Clause Four to the Labour Party constitution, with the additional amendment that the transfer of power from the capitalist state to the workers’ state is an essential prerequisite to build a socialist society.
Today the governments of capitalist countries are desperately trying to find ways to resolve the crisis. One method being discussed is printing more money. We should remember that this was tried in Germany in the 1920s and it led to massive devaluation of the mark, so that is not the way forward.
From the working class point of view we should not be satisfied to find a way out of the crisis for a system that is obsolete. Our aim should be socialism.
History has proved that socialism cannot be attained by spontaneous struggle alone. It is necessary to build a party dedicated to leading, uniting and helping the working class to ensure its freedom to exploitation and social poverty.
The New Communist Party has obviously got a role to play in achieving this and on that basis we appeal for support in building our party and increasing the circulation of its paper, the New Worker.