1970s >> 1978 >> no-884-april-1978

Capitalism’s Scapegoats

In order to keep the workers acquiescing in the system of lunacy that is capitalism, its supporters continually have to invent scapegoats and to point to them as the cause of the hardship experienced by the working class.

During the last four years capitalism has so very predictably been going through yet another period of slump. All the Keynsians, Labourites, Conservatives and other supporters of capitalism who believed and, indeed today mostly still believe, that capitalism can be made to work in the interests of all by the government pumping more money into the economy, have been proved utterly wrong.

Defenders of Capitalism

Naturally no defenders of capitalism such as Enoch Powell, Margaret Thatcher and Iain Sproat MP are going to tell the workers the real reason for this current recession, even if they did know it themselves. So, by means of a well conducted campaign in the media, every so often scapegoats are offered as causes of social problems and the misery of the working class. Students, trade unionists, muggers, immigrants and the unemployed. One by one these groups are singled out by the hack journalists and blamed for the present social malaise.

At the moment immigrants and the unemployed are the groups which are most subject to attack. The supporters of capitalism, regardless of whatever political party they adhere to, ask us to believe that this country is becoming overcrowded with immigrants and that they are aggravating unemployment. The reality is something quite different. Far from increasing, the actual population of Britain is declining due to the falling birth rate and more people are leaving the country than coming into it. Perhaps those who believe that immigration is in some way connected with high levels of unemployment, bad housing and poor social services, would care to explain why all these conditions existed in the 1930s and yet there were hardly any coloured people and very few immigrants as a whole living in Britain. If immigrants really do provide the real cause of unemployment, why is it that in the areas worst affected by high levels of unemployment, such as Northern Ireland, Clydeside and Tyneside, the immigrant population is negligible?

Ignorant distortions

The unemployed, particularly those in receipt of Supplementary Benefit, are frequently abused and declared the cause of many social problems. Few people will forget the vicious campaign of ignorant distortions directed by Iain Sproat MP and his supporters against the unemployed. Many of those out of work are slandered by being called lazy and unwilling to look for work. As any worker should know, employment as such is usually a miserable prospect anyway. But apart from that, the fact is that over the past few years reports have repeatedly shown that for every ten people registered as unemployed, only one job vacancy has been reported to the Department of Employment. Of course, those who believe that unemployment is largely due to laziness and unwillingness to work, never bother to explain to us why in the 1950s and early 60s relatively few people were “lazy” (unemployed), while in the 1930s and today many more have suddenly become so.

The reality is that social problems, such as unemployment, high densities of population in large cities, homelessness, and bad social services, are not caused by immigrants to this country or by any supposed reluctance of the unemployed to find work. When people complain about these social problems they are really protesting about the inevitable consequences of the capitalist system. Under capitalism profits for the owners of industry and the increased wealth of a small minority of the population are of prime importance. Social questions and the human need of the immense majority are pushed into the background time and time again, as is the case today. Cuts are made in education, medical services and transport, etc., and workers are thrown onto the dole queue. All of this is part of a vain attempt to solve capitalism’s insoluble problems.

The urgent need of the day is for workers to realise that all of these social problems are caused by capitalism and that the present system cannot be made to run in their interests, whether the Labour, Liberal or Conservative parties are in power.

Vincent Otter