Saturday, July 04, 2020

Understanding what capitalism is

The overwhelming mass of the world’s wealth is owned by only a small proportion of its population. That, like all property societies, capitalism is made up of a small number of owners and a vast majority who own nothing or virtually nothing. Equally important is the fact that this pattern has remained fundamentally unchanged over the years. Working class poverty is an inescapable part of capitalism. As capitalism gets older it gets bigger and more concentrated. As it does so. the worker grows more remote and personally insignificant. This is what Karl Marx, said would happen, over a century ago. Nobody listened much to him then and nobody listens much now.

Whenever they are called upon to vote, our fellow- workers display all the bemused docility which we have long grown accustomed to. They will concentrate on the wrong issues, at the wrong time. They will allow themselves to be misled by the incumbent government’s claim to have been a responsible administration and by the opposition parties that they are the men and women better suited to run capitalism. The election policies of the Tories, the Labour Party and the others always amount to a claim that they are able to control capitalism. As each of capitalism’s crises blows up, there is no lack of political leaders to make speeches which state their solution to it. The workers will not consider the futility of it all and acknowledge the obvious impotence of the political parties to deal a with them.  Nobody seems to notice that some of the schemes are not very different from those which are being blamed for producing the crisis in the first place and that some of the bright ideas contradict others which have been offered before as the solution to our problems. As a whole, they will not even toy with the idea that it might be a good thing to abolish capitalism and to have socialism instead. The working class forgot to ask themselves when capitalism had ever allowed them to live anywhere near as well as some of the people who manage capitalism.

The capitalist class continually train up their experts and economists, but yet still they are caught napping by the vagaries of a market. Capitalism's slumps, like its booms, happen because its wealth is made to be sold. This means that the market is the key to capitalism's fortunes. And the market is a capricious, unpredictable, anarchic thing. It sums up capitalism, that its fortunes should rest in such uncertainty.

The Stock Exchange has spent some time over the past years in trying to improve its public image, which was so badly mauled by the last recession. The Stock Exchange was developed to organise some of capitalism's investments, but even without it there would still have been a capitalist class who would have grown very rich from the work of the rest of us. So when the Stock Exchange pats itself on the back they are making a social virtue out of an anti-social necessity. Socialists want lo live in a free world, which is owned by its people. The Stock Exchange does not help us to live that life: in fact, it does just the opposite. By misleading workers into accepting capitalism as a dynamic, logical, beneficial system it prevents us all from living not just the lives we want but the lives we desperately need.

These are certain essential facts about capitalism upon which we have always based our case against it. However the system may change in small ways, these facts are as relevant today as they always have been.

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