1 May 2010 sees the working-class masses all over the world standing on the brink of a serious confrontation with the imperialist ruling classes of the US, Europe and Japan. The economic crisis of the whole capitalist system, which has slowly been building up steam since the 1970s, has finally proved impossible to contain. In 2007, the world was plunged into a world banking crisis and credit crunch that have been more devastating in their consequences on people’s lives, livelihoods and wellbeing than any earthquake or tsunami – and the worst is still to come.
1 May 2010 is taking place just before a general election that will decide who will govern Britain on behalf of its capitalist ruling class for the next five years or so. The three main parties are all pledged to ‘financial prudence’. All of them will slash thousands of public-sector jobs, which means slashing the services that those who held those jobs were previously paid to provide. This cannot but mean poorer health and education services, and even more stingy welfare provisions than we have at present.
And even more cuts will surely follow, as fewer people in work means lower tax revenues for the government, while expenditure will tend to rise to pay the benefits needed by all the extra unemployed people. Worse still is the fact that reduced national income and reduced public expenditure also leads to reduced demand for the products of capitalist industry, which will only make the economic crisis worse.
There is nothing so absurd as capitalist economic crisis. Given the fantastic technology at our disposal, it is now possible for every worker to produce several times more than he and his family could ever consume, yet people everywhere go short of vital necessities, and are being thrown out of work in their millions, because … they have produced too much!
Of course, they haven’t produced too much of what people need – only too much of what people can afford to buy. Under capitalism, in order to maximise profit and preserve competitiveness, wages and public spending are kept relatively low compared to the incredible increase in productivity. The result is ‘overproduction’ – the production of far more goods and services than the masses of purchasers can afford to buy, leading inevitably to bankruptcies, job losses, and economic meltdown on a mass scale.
The worst of the crisis was held off for many years by banks lending people money to buy what they needed, especially on the security of their homes. People were pushed into borrowing far more than they could repay, giving rise to an unprecedented number of bad debts, which is what has led to the banking crisis. Now that it is difficult to borrow any more money, the crisis of overproduction is worsening.
To keep the banks afloat despite their large holdings of bad debts, billions of pounds have been handed over to them. Without that, anybody with any money in the bank would have lost it and the whole banking system would have ground to a halt. And now, all the major parties standing in the election are promising to claw back this money – not from the banks, but from the taxpayers, both by means of higher taxes and stringent cutbacks in public services.
Huge sums of money also continue to be devoted to Britain’s warmongering in Iraq and Afghanistan. These wars are waged for the benefit of Britain’s oil companies, armaments manufacturers and the robber barons of the City of London. They are wars in which young people, unable to find a better job, are sent to be killed and maimed to defend multinational profiteering.
A vote for any of the pro-capitalist parties standing in the election amounts to nothing more than an encouragement to them that their particular proposals for continued warmongering and picking taxpayers’ pockets are acceptable to the electorate. As a result, we say NO VOTE for Labour, Conservative, LibDem, UKIP or BNP. All these parties promote racism as they seek to hide capitalism’s responsibility for the crisis by putting the blame on immigrants for the problems caused by capitalist economic crisis. Votes for those parties are wasted votes because they won’t change anything.
Admittedly, that doesn’t leave a whole lot of choice, but your vote can still be made to count if it registers a clear protest by being cast in favour of a party that opposes all forced impoverishment of the working people of this country through higher taxes and reduced levels of services, and which is determined to pull Britain out of its involvement in the unjust and illegal wars being conducted in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.
The only alternative to capitalism is socialism. Socialism doesn’t mean the empty promise of a better life for workers under capitalism, which is what the Labour and many on the ‘left’ try to sell us. Socialism means confiscating all the means of production (industrial and commercial property, factories, machinery, mines, etc) from the billionaires and putting them to work in a planned way in order to meet the material and cultural needs of those who work and their families. Under socialism, increased productivity leads directly and proportionately to increased wellbeing.
There is no crime against humanity that the rich and powerful will not commit in defence of their riches and their power. The struggle for socialism is hard and calls for tremendous self-sacrifice. But the alternative is to sink lower and lower into wretchedness, while war and pollution devastate our planet.
The establishment of socialism is the historic task of the moment, and represents a giant step forward for humanity. Millions upon millions of working people all over the planet can certainly overwhelm and defeat the handful of profiteers who today rule the world. What is necessary to start with is that those who realise that capitalism must go and be replaced by socialism join together to convince everybody else.
Let 1 May 2010 be a day when thousands of workers in Britain become part of this proud movement.
Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Turkey & Northern Kurdistan, Leaflet for 1 May 2010
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