You have been taught that we live in a democracy. There are laws and courts and jails for the criminals — and you were told that all citizens are equal before the law. But you know perfectly well that a banker who swindles a great many people seldom lands in jail, and if he does, he is soon pardoned or else his imprisonment is turned into something like a vacation in a country club open prison. But if you, a worker, steals the law will be after you and there will be no mercy. You were taught that this is “justice.” Yet where is the justice to being thrown out into the street for non-payment of a mortage or rent but bankers an default on billions and get bail-outs from the government? Something is wrong here, too. Apparently, all these notions about law and order, about justice and injustice, about crime and punishment, are made in the interests, not of you and the like of you, but in the interests of those who use them against you.
The truth of the matter is that this is a rich man’s State and a rich man’s government. The State is there to act on behalf of finance capital and to protect its interests against the people. The government is the executive committee of business.
Bankers and brokers, hedge fund managers, real estate speculators— they do not produce anything essential to human life although they have the lion’s share of control over production. As a matter of fact, they produce nothing. They transfer “paper” from hand to hand. That paper — call it checks or deeds or shares — is a claim to the fruits of somebody else’s labour. Wall Street and the City of London were doing its bit. Wall Street is the popular name for the greatest combination of financial manipulators, and it was boosting stock prices sky high. The price of stocks is based upon the estimated earning capacity of the unit that issues the stocks. This earning capacity was declared by the advocates of Wall Street to be unlimited. Prosperity was to go up and up in an unending spiral. The big sharks of the stock exchange were making billions. The fat cats of Wall Street were having the time of their lives. Everybody praised the glory of the market. The structure was built on sand. The crash came. It was inevitable. Stocks tumbled down. Capitalist propagandists asserted that it was only a violent “downward readjustment.” It was more than that. It was a disaster.
They wish us to believe it was just an accident, or at worse, the malpractice of a few out of control individuals yet the business corporations were garnering in the profits and issuing out the rewards to their executives in huge bonuses and stock options. Then with the recession they complained of hard times and although not a single chairman of the board of directors of the large corporations went begging in the streets they held out their hands for alms from the government - and got it . Whereas the wages of the workers were cut mercilessly and the benefits for unemployed turned them into beggars at food-banks and charities. Big business is now prosperous again, the hic-cup in the past but still the working class is suffering great hardships.
Is this all an accident? It is not. It is the outcome of a system where wealth is owned, not by those who produce it, but by those who do not produce anything, who have amassed it out of the work of others under the protection of the law; a system where production is directed, not towards satisfying human wants, but towards making profits for the owners of wealth; a system where the primary purpose of labor — to satisfy the basic needs of humanity — is completely lost sight of in the scramble for fatter investments fortunes. Society rests on the foundation of labour, no matter what its form.
But lessons of the recession must be learned. Plan after plan is being tossed about in the think-tanks and academia to restore confidence in their economic theories. The importance to capitalism of a sound financial system cannot be underestimated. It is for that reason that they have been so quick to apply any remedies that they hope may relieve any imperfections. To the millions of workers, the government refuses the slightest aid. But to the financial oligarchy it is prepared to lend its entire machinery. The government is always ready to help those who do not need it – those who do, the working class, will have to wrench it from them in the course of the struggle against capitalism.
For a long time it was believed that dislocations of monetary and credit systems, commonly observed during depressions, were at the bottom of the whole trouble. There followed all sorts of theories on and manipulations with currency emission, bank and credit regulations, etc., including the setting up of government controls, such as the Federal Reserve System. It was overlooked that disturbances of the fiscal structure, stringency of money and credit and panics were primarily the effect and not the cause of convulsions. It was also ignored that crises erupted in times when credit was easy as well as when it was tight. Now the Fed is viewed as the main culprit by many now in the Tea Party and Randist wing of the right. Economic crises always have a falling-out-among-thieves side to them, as different capital sectors seek long-term advantage for themselves in the working out of capitalism’s common problems.
The SPGB task is explaining the real crisis of capitalism.