Voice From The Back

It is well known that journalists defending capitalism often make a fool of themselves. It is even better known that Daily Mail journalists are particularly foolish in that regard. Here is one – Andrew Alexander proving that point. “We are witnessing the death of capitalism, according to various excitable commentators, some alarmed and some drooling at the prospect. Neither need get worked up. Capitalism will survive. And it will do so because it is natural – not, as some claim, an alien system imposed on gullible people” (Daily Mail, 11 March). Alexander then goes on to use the hoary, old fairy tale about a shipwrecked crew on a tropical island exchanging coconuts for fish and claims this would lead to the invention of money. It is a view that completely ignores the real history of humankind. The first period of human history had no concept of private property and the invention of money is a very late development in that history. There is plenty of evidence that society has developed through various stages of primitive communism, chattel slavery, feudalism and then capitalism. Far from being “natural” capitalism is just another stage in private property society. Mr Alexander is correct in one respect though. People who imagine that the latest slump in capitalism means its termination are completely wrong. Capitalism by its very nature has slumps and booms. Its abolition will only come about with the conscious political action of the working class.

One of the opposition that socialist get when advocating a new society of common ownership and production solely for use, is that it would be impossible because of the “lazy man” who wouldn’t work. These opponents overlook the fact that socialism could only come about when a majority were in favour of working to the best of their ability and taking according to their needs. Far from the working class being innately lazy, even inside the cut-throat system that is capitalism there are many examples of people working in a co-operative fashion. Inside families many parents sacrifice themselves for the benefit of their children, many people volunteer to do unpaid work to help the needy and the sick. Perhaps one of the best examples of selfless endeavour on behalf of others is that of lifeboat volunteers who risk their lives to help others without pay. Another opposition to a socialist society that is often aired is that is impossible because of the existence of the “greedy man”. If the working class were really greedy they would dump a society that today leaves them in poverty while rewarding the capitalist class with immense wealth.

“The world economy is set to shrink by between 0.5% and 1.0% in 2009, the first global contraction in 60 years. In its gloomiest forecast yet, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says that developed countries will suffer a ‘deep recession’. The global economic body says ‘the prolonged financial crisis has battered global economic activity beyond what was previously anticipated’” (BBC News, 19 March). To illustrate than none of the experts have a clue this is the same IMF that was predicting just two months earlier that world output would increase by 0.5 percent! In fact capitalism is an economic system that is based on slumps and booms and no amount of political “spin” can govern its unpredictability.

Everything inside capitalist society is driven by the profit motive. So it comes as no great surprise to hear that the popular-music industry is a victim of the rapacious demands of the commodity-producing society. Here is the highly successful pop song-writer and singer, formerly of the Eurythmics, Annie Lennox on the dog-eat-dog nature of the business. “The music industry is a bloody nightmare. The egos, the slightly criminal elements, the betrayers, the ones who want to screw you.” (Observer, 29 March)

Most people are aware of the awful poverty that exists in parts of Asia and India but capitalism is a world system with world-wide social problems. “Volunteers from one of the world’s most impoverished countries are to travel to Scotland to help people in communities blighted by drink and violence. The aid workers from Pakistan have been warned that they will see shocking poverty when they arrive next month in the east end of Glasgow to work in some of Britain’s most run-down housing schemes…. In Pakistan, a third of the 170m population lives below the poverty line – defined as earning less than $2 (£1.36) a day. However, the average life expectancy for men is 62, compared with 54 in parts of Glasgow” (Sunday Times, 12 April). No doubt many of these doomed men will be singing on a Saturday night “Glasgow Belongs To Me”. In reality though, Glasgow – like ever city on Earth – belongs to the capitalist

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