THIS WEEK’S money market flap that spread panic selling across the globe at the beginning of the week may not be the herald of the final crisis of capitalism but it certainly looks like the start of a slump. That shouldn’t surprise us because slump is as much a part of the capitalist system as the booms they tell us can last forever.
Of course “slump” and “depression” are taboo words amongst bourgeois economists these days. They prefer to call what is a natural part of the capitalist phenomena “blips”, “downturns” or “recessions” largely because those words suggest that they will be immediately followed by an “upturn” – though this is invariably called a “boom” in the bourgeois media.
Slumps are caused by over-production when the markets are sated with more goods than people can buy – which, as Marx pointed out, would have seemed an absurdity in earlier epochs. In feudal days a bumper harvest would have meant more food for everyone. In the 1930s it meant starvation for workers thrown out of employment because the food could not be sold.
In those days importers would dump food into the sea to keep the price up. The European Union used more sophisticated methods like intervention buying to keep French and German agribusiness sweet at the expense of working people who paid extortionate prices for food. Meanwhile mountains of butter and lakes of wine would be stored and eventually destroyed or used as pig-swill to keep the price up. Now we have the final absurdity of paying farmers not to produce anything at all.
This method, however, cannot work for the industries that the capitalist world revolves round. Manufacturers squeeze their workers to compete in the drive for profit in the cut-throat global economy while encouraging their governments to urge working people to borrow more and more against their future earnings to buy homes they will rarely own outright and mop up the surplus in consumer goods. When they’re finally bled dry the bubble bursts and the downturn begins.
When the markets dip we’re told to tighten our belts to ensure that the exploiters don’t go without. When its over they say it’s all part of the normal economic cycle, much like the seasons, and we should be content with the crumbs from the rich man’s table which they call with unconscious irony the “trickle-down” effect because it is indeed a miserable pittance.
The system exists solely to ensure that capitalists and landowners can live like Roman Emperors by exploiting the overwhelming majority of the people who work in the factories and fields of the world and who produce the entire wealth of the world yet get only a fraction of it back in return.
Capitalism cannot solve the crisis of its own making. It is entirely based on extortion, oppression and war and so it will continue as long as we let the exploiters get away with it.
In 1917 the Bolsheviks lit a torch whose flames still burn throughout Asia and Latin America.
The ruling class fear the future. We welcome it for we have seen it work in the former Soviet Union and we see it today in the socialist countries of Asia and Latin America.
The Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Cuban people are building a new life for themselves while the great anti-war movements in the imperialist heartlands like Britain are joining forces with the liberation movements throughout the Third World to unite the class and march together towards a new tomorrow – a socialist society where there are no slums, poverty or racism; no exploiters, no bigotry and no war. This is the world we work for. This is the world Marx and Engels predicted and a world that will surely come to pass.