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What About the Deckchairs?

Everybody has heard the saying about “re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic”. It has become a stock phrase to describe some futile or pointless activity, especially in the face of some impending disaster.

Online dictionaries offer various interpretations, ranging from, “[to] illustrate the futility of concentrating on the trivial details of some enterprise that is ultimately doomed or in the midst of some serious crisis that can not be overcome,” through, “when someone tries to futilely reform the ways things are done in a failing system,” to “to do something pointless or insignificant that will soon be overtaken by events, or that contributes nothing to the solution of a current problem.”

It’s a neat way of describing what all governments of capitalism do, not just in the present economic crisis but generally. Not that capitalism is sinking –it’s not going to collapse of its own accord, even if it is no longer sea-worthy –but it is failing in that it is not properly meeting the needs of the vast majority of people. It cannot but fail to do this.

Because capitalism is a system based on profit-making on the backs of those who actually produce wealth by their work, it can only ever function in the way it does –as a profit-making system in the interests of those who live off profits. It can never be made to function in the interest of those obliged by economic necessity to work for a wage or a salary for a living.

Anyone who thinks that it can and proposes some measure to achieve this –and this includes opposition parties, single-issue groups and campaigning charities as well as governments in office –is just re-arranging the deckchairs. Much better, socialists say, to steer away from the icebergs of economic crisis, war and global pollution and head for socialism where we can lastingly arrange the deckchairs for the benefit of all.