Monthly Archives: March 2015

1979 and all that: get ready to fight not just to vote

This is the most important general election since 1979 for Britain’s working classes but you wouldn’t know it if you went by Labour’s nonchalant approach or even that of the so-called far left who simply trade in demagoguery and propaganda and obsess endlessly about immigration and how great it is as a way of avoiding the real issues or developing a real programme.

The British state has been bankrupted and the British economy is moribund as the Great Recession trundles on. But the last five years of this Coalition Government has been almost a denial of these facts or at least a tip-toing around them. The next five years will not be. The Tories are promising spending cuts of truly eye-watering proportions in order to bring down the deficit, keep the national debt in check and continue the bail out of the bankrupt banks. This will ensure that like Geoffrey Howe’s budget of 1980 the entire burden for all this will fall first and foremost on working, poor, sick, disabled, young and old people. The proposed cuts will trigger a contraction that will make the recession of the early 80s look like a mere pot hole in the road.

But what of Labour? Hey, they say, that’s no fair. The entirety of the burden should not fall only on working people. The rich must pay a little too and so, along with a raft of not quite so brutal cuts, they also promise to raise a few taxes much to the annoyance of the rich and their middle class useful idiots. This may be ever so slightly fairer but in reality it does not matter whether a cut in spending by government or private citizens or a combination of both is contemplated the removal of the amounts of money from the economy that all parties are proposing will trigger the same frightening recession. Unless you are super rich, one way or another, you are going to get it in the neck. The higher rate of tax might rise slightly but your higher rate job may no longer exist in any case.

Unlike Thatcher’s recession, however, there is no possible way out of this one in capitalist terms. The monetarists of the 1980s had one trick up their sleeves which while slashing public spending was to hand responsibility for money supply over to a de-regulated private finance sector on the grounds that `enlightened self-interest’ would prevent them from allowing the supply of money to get out of equilibrium with the demand for it. Naturally, the first thing they did was set about building the world’s biggest Ponzi Scheme in human history based on their counterfeit claims on the social product. This scheme funded the greatest consumer boom we have ever or are ever likely to see.

When the scam came to an end in 2008 it showed that late capitalism had merely added irreversible bankruptcy to stagnation and decline. Far from winning the Cold War and its aftermath the effort had killed it. Instead of curing the decrepit old patient the bankers’ steroids had given it not growth but cancer and induced a massive and fatal heart attack. Since then capital has been rowing back from Western-sponsored globalisation to a future that looks a lot like the past but without a future of its own. In fact, having induced a recession, the right talk almost endlessly of leaving the EU and its single market where once that was seen as the road to the regeneration of British capitalism following the removal of all protections. Truly austerity is about preparing the corpse for burial.

So, the choice at this election may appear to be a merely cerebral one between cuts or cuts and a bit of tax but in actual fact for the working class and no doubt for huge swathes of the middle class it is actually a matter of life or death. They are being asked to choose between death by firing squad or lethal injection whilst the super-rich look on knowing that either will do.

Of course we must vote in solidarity with workers who want to get rid of this wretched Coalition as there is no serious revolutionary alternative whether that be by voting SNP in Scotland or Labour in England or Plaid in Wales but if such an alternative has not made serious strides not just in Britain but across Europe towards being built by the time the next election comes around we could be looking not just at a Great Recession or even a Great Depression but a New Dark Ages from which for humanity as a whole there may be no escape.

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Capitalism is dead: long live socialism!

Class society has its stages, its identifiable modes of production, beginning with ancient slavery followed by feudalism and finally capitalism. But capitalism too has its stages, its modes, which it outgrows and leaves behind until it itself is left behind.

 

There would appear to be three distinct capitalist modes. The early, the industrial and the imperialist. The earliest mode of capitalism, the mode of primitive accumulation, of mercantilism and colonialism, stretched from the 17th Century to the mid-18th. It opened with the signing of the Treaties of Westphalia in 1648 which guaranteed peace in Europe after years of war through respect for sovereignty and religious tolerance.

 

Britain took the lead and by the mid-1800s was ready to launch industrial capitalism which propelled it to the status of world hegemon. It was able through trade and force to impose a Pax Britannica on the whole world and it had an empire upon which it was said `the sun never set’. Industrial capitalism led to domestic monopolies and gave way to imperialist capitalism whereby finance and monopoly capital allied to the state began to export itself all over the planet. Basing themselves on this model imperialst challengers to Britain emerged and inter-imperialist rivalry grew to fever pitch. Pax Britannica was smashed by the outbreak of World War One in 1914.   The final stage of capitalism already begun announced itself with a bang.

 

Each crisis of capitalism within each mode led to ever more acute crises until the crisis that comprehensively swept away the old political-economic arrangements came along and took us to the next mode. Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, has also itself gone through distinct stages with each new crisis resulting eventually in a new mode. Of course we know that in reality the hare always does catch the tortoise and everything must one way or another pass away. The hegemony of British imperialism gave way to a period of intense rivarly between it and emerging European imperialist powers resulting in the First World War and culminating in the Second. It was only after this incredibly violent period that the greatest power the world has ever seen was able to establish a new world order: Pax Americana. It was only able to do this, however, with the help of the degenerate workers’ state the Soviet Union and its Stalinist leaders. The Stalinist Soviet Union enabled America to unify Western imperialism in a common endeavour which led to US-sponsored globalisation and the eventual surrender of Stalinism. This launched the final mode of the highest stage of capitalism: the retreat from globalisation and the irreversible decay of world capitalism. Though this period opened with a fanfare of triumphal imperialist hubris by which America was going to finally establish itself as the sole and only world super power this illusion was quickly shattered. By 2008 the neo-Con project was dead in the water. Militarily it was bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan and the financial collpase demonstrated just how bankrupted Western imperialism was by the effort to defeat `communism’ and by its post-Cold War adventures.

 

The road to US-sponsored capitalist globalisation has been an extremely violent one but the retreat from it politically and economically will be, if not stopped, ten times more violent. It will, in fact, result in a New Dark Ages and probably the disappearance of the human species from the planet. For a localised taster of the global barbarism to come take a look at Syria where a tyrant slaughters his own people by the hundreds of thousands with impunity and the fascist gangs of ISIS roam virtually unhindered garroting, torturing, burning and beheading workers and farmers in the name of their gangster Death Cult. Huge swathes of a once vibrant nation are emptied out and flattened probably for ever. In this final stage of the highest stage capitalism is in fact already dead but the alternative is not yet born. And what is the alternative to barbarism. It is and could only ever have been as it was explained it would be some 160 years ago: socialism. Socialism does not mean propping up capitalist globalisation and making it work somewhow, that is not possible, but radically transcending it. Only world proletarian revolution basing itself on a commonwealth of socialist nations and planned economy can take global economic integration to a new and sustainable level providing a platform for the survival and harmonious development of the human race. The stage is set.