Created by: www.ForensicAccounting.net
On the 27th July, the much-hyped London 2012 Olympics will finally be upon us. As well as providing a means for every financial parasite, corporate tax-dodger and government cutter to distract our attention and make us feel warm and patriotic for around a month, the Olympics mean big buck for big business, at our expense.
Both these firms are responsible for creating untold hardship for hundreds of thousands of disabled people and their families, and yet are using the Paralympics as a way of covering their arses and trying to restore credibility to their names.
But that’s not even the half of it. A number of international corporations are set to profit off the Olympics, despite the fact that the public will have to pay over £11 billion for the event (a huge amount compared to the initial £2.4 billion that the government said it would cost when they first put in the bid).
The huge appeal of the Olympics for these companies has been the right to claim a monopoly over aspects of the games. VISA will be the only usable credit card at any of the events, while Coca Cola will be the only company allowed to sell branded drinks, and McDonalds (!) the only company allowed to sell branded food. Rival companies will have their adverts and signs covered or removed in the areas around the Olympic Stadium, ensuring that those who won the scramble for the stadium are guaranteed to make a killing.
Other companies such as Nike, Adidas and Puma are all trying to increase their profits by being the official advertisers for various teams and notable athletes. This is in spite of the fact that they have been repeatedly found breaking labour laws by paying employees in South East Asia poverty pay.
The iron strength of these monopolies was recently demonstrated when an 81-year old grandma was told that she shouldn’t sell a doll with a knitted jumper with ‘London 2012′ on the front as part of a charity fund-raiser, lest she incur the wrath of the Olympian lawyers.
Since the recession first started, private investors have been increasingly reluctant to pay for the infrastructure (Olympic apartments, road improvements, etc) necessary to host the games, meaning that the government has filled the gap using taxpayers’ money. If you are expecting to see the public purse grow from this investment, you’d do well to look at the Olympics village which became totally state-funded in 2009, before being sold off at a £275 million loss to the Qatari ruling family’s property firm.
The Olympics is being used as another way to siphon public money into private pockets. Just as the cuts have stripped back the welfare state and allowed companies new markets and areas to profit from, the Games have sunk our cash into creating a bubble filled with tourists, sports fans and athletes whom the private sector can profit from through aggressive advertising and monopoly rights.
While the government says that we will benefit from tourism and spending during the games, reports on the impact of previous games on countries’ economies have shown there are no winners except for a few private firms who milk them for all they’re worth. At the end of the day it’s us who foot the bill so that multinationals with a track record of violating human rights, profiting from mass poverty, and fundamentally not giving a fuck about anyone except their shareholders, can make a quick buck in turbulent times. Whoever ends up winning the Olympics, we’re still coming out as the losers.
The world economic crisis has opened up an era of mass unemployment and poverty not seen for decades. While economists and stockbrokers tinker with their markets, the hidden human cost of rescuing a system based on exploitation and oppression is revealed in the spiralling rates of depression and suicide.
In an age where television is full of shows on teenage sexual health, body image and competitive cookery, mental health remains one of the last medical taboos. Even in the most advanced countries, popular understanding of the issues surrounding mental health remains at a superficial level out of all proportion with its extent and impact on society.
This article will look at why the rise of mental illness during periods of economic crisis shows us that class society, founded on artificial economic and social inequalities, promotes and is strengthened by an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude to depression and suicide.
If you tell someone you’re ill, their natural impulse is to define it by your physical symptoms. Thousands of people with physical handicaps so severe they cannot work are being forced through humiliating ‘Work Capacity Assessments’ by target-chasing, profit-hoarding privateers like Atos. Opposition to this has been helped by a series of frankly incredible government blunders, like trying to make cancer patients take the tests.
But what if your illness has no external symptoms? What if, like millions of Britons, your illness is not understood by your friends, your family, and least of all your boss?
Depression is one of the most misunderstood of all mental illnesses. More than schizophrenia, autism and related disorders, depression remains shrouded in popular misconceptions about its causes, effects and treatments.
It is well-known that traumatic events such as having a baby or losing your job can trigger depression, but such events are not a precondition. Depression can affect people over short or long periods, can be recurring or isolated episodes and is not necessarily provoked by an obvious catalyst.
Any definition of depression is complicated by the individual circumstances. Different people have different symptoms. The complex social pressures surrounding such illnesses complicates the task of separating cause from effect. Depression affects men and women differently, with a myriad of social institutions reinforcing the view that women are more prone to expressing their emotions, while men prefer to bottle them up.
Whatever the personal circumstances, general symptoms are often shared. These range from trouble sleeping and concentrating, through feelings of guilt and self-hatred to repeated thoughts of death and suicide.
The idea that depression is something people ‘snap out of’ is common, partly because it is so varied, and partly due to its sheer extent throughout society.
1 in 3 of us will suffer from depression at some point in our lives and will find it hard to talk to family, friends and work colleagues about it. This is because of the stigma attached to mental illness – the notion that ‘if you can’t see it, it’s not real.’
These attitudes form a huge obstacle in the path of those for whom diagnosis is a vital and necessary first step. They mean that acceptance of a problem, let alone treatment, is very often suppressed under the weight of social pressures.
This means that entering treatment for depression carries with it a new weight of worries. Just as nobody asks why they’ve got Flu, the questions from friends and family of sufferers are questions that the sufferer will often not be able to answer themselves.
The consequence is feelings of embarrassment of guilt, particularly if there are no obvious provoking factors. Such feelings serve to raise a further barrier between the sufferer and their family and friends, increasing the isolation and despair associated with depression.
The combination of few resources, and discrimination against the ill and disabled means sufferers are pressured into internalising their illness – convincing themselves that it’s an overreaction, and that they are as ‘normal’ as everyone else. Inevitably, many sufferers will lie about feeling depressed to those closest to them.
This is only encouraged by the likes of Jeremy Clarkson who described people who jump in front of trains as ‘selfish.’ Appropriate material for a tragic, middle-aged caricature like Clarkson, since it does no more than fall in with the establishment line that ‘you’re not really ill, until you’re too ill to work for someone’.
From a certain perspective, this point of view is logical, since your ability to survive under capitalism ultimately comes down to your ability to exchange your labour or live off someone else’s.
Since only a small number of countries are rich enough to provide a welfare state, the majority of people suffering from mental issues are forced to cope in any way they can.
Without a safety net, the capitalist laws of the labour market are unimpeded – if you are too ill to work, you are too poor to eat.
In countries with a developed healthcare system, the ruling class maintains a constant barrage of propaganda promoting the idea that, short of a crippling physical handicap, everyone is equally capable of pulling themselves to the top of the greasy pole by their bootstraps.
If we want to understand why so many of us will suffer from depression, which goes beyond simply having ‘a bad day’, we need to understand the social context of the majority of people in the world.
Our conception of society, and our relationship with illness is defined by the way we live our lives. We live in a world where the majority of people are forced to exist on the bare minimum, while the value of their labour is accumulated in unimaginable amounts by the capitalists.
This state of affairs, where almost every aspect of our lives is totally beyond our control or understanding, leads to what Marxists call alienation.
Under capitalism, humanity is alienated from one another and the world around it because we live in a society where we have no real contact with the process of making the things we rely on to survive.
The majority of us get a job, get paid a wage, then go to the shops and spend the money we earn, but we have no idea how it gets there, who made it, or how much they got paid. The operation of the theories of suplus value, labour-power and capitalist accumulation which are fundamental to the functioning of every society seem as obscure as particle physics.
In addition to this we’re alienated from each other because the capitalist system doesn’t teach us to value each other, or treat each other as equal. We can’t understand what other people do in their lives because we are not part of them; we are atomised in the workplace and the home.
This shows us that we cannot separate illness of any kind from the social structures which incubate and exacerbate those illnesses.
In a world in which we are divorced from the basic knowledge underlying so many processes inherent to our lives, it is no surprise that when confronted with the challenges of mental illness. many people look to the apparent stability and security of the family,
Yet in the majority of the world, where there is little-to-no access to support services, the pressure of coping with depression places an intolerable strain on the atomised individual and family unit.
In capitalist society the economic necessity underpinning the social basis of the nuclear family is the fact that it forces women to carry out all the necessary tasks of maintaining a home, cooking, cleaning and caring – for free.
That this is both oppressive and inefficient is a secondary concern. Its value lies in the fact that it also ensures that the majority of humanity is divided into hundreds of millions of tiny family groupings limited to defending their own interests.
This arrangement is integral to class society. Firstly it allows the dominant ideas in society – i.e. the ideas of the ruling class who own the means of distributing information – to be reproduced with each generation. Secondly it ensures that it is the private family which must find the means for caring for sick relatives rather than the state. Finally it ensures that the experience of living with mental illness is not shared – it becomes the private burden of each family, trapped by convention and shame within the walls of the family home.
As unemployment rises, home repossessions rise, the prices of everyday goods soar and benefit cuts drive people into poverty, it is little surprise that divorce, depression and suicide rates jump during economic crises.
Existing services for mental health are put under severe pressure as cuts to ‘red tape’ and ‘efficiency savings’ result in the closure of dozens of day centres and reduced coverage for those who need it most. A survey of Health Trusts and councils found that more than half have cut their budgets for child and young people’s mental health services in the past year.
The research also showed that teams of specialist workers, such as school nurses, who are trained to identify and treat children with emotional problems, are being disbanded. Drop-in and counselling services are also being axed, while nurse and social worker posts are being slashed across the country.
If young people’s problems aren’t identified quickly then they are not just going to vanish, they will simply get worse; intervention and support amongst young people in education and work is key to reversing the tide of lives blighted by depression.
With nothing motivating them beyond a naked desire to put healthcare under the control of millionaire profiteers, these cuts will leave thousands of young people suffering decades of severe illness.
Making cuts in mental health is seen as a ‘soft cut’ as those who use the services are not or do not feel able to speak up about it. More than others, they are ‘invisible’. Since cutting funding for mental health support does not involve closing hospital wards, it is not as immediate, yet there is no benefit or saving in the long term for sufferers and their families.
Waiting times to see a counsellor are incredibly long and the government’s plan to scrap waiting-list targets is both counter-productive and short-sighted.
Capitalism’s recurring crises are periods of massive turmoil and stress for the millions of people who have nothing to live on except their job. We need to be fighting to defend the services that do exist, and arguing for more spending on priorities like our health, and less on government wars and royal vanity projects.
The biological and hereditary roots of mental health problems are well documented, if not necessarily conclusive. As with other illnesses, a fixation on treatment over prevention reflects the power of private, profit-motivated interests against the common interests of those who produce, consume and distribute the medicines.
This is even more true with an illness like Depression. After all, dishing out happy pills to treat the symptoms is easier, and more profitable, than laying bare the selfish, alienating and antagonistic fabric of capitalist society.
In a world divided between a minority of haves and billions of have-nots, the pressure of constant competition for basic human needs is shouldered by the individual and the family, instead of being socialised – planned, organised and shared by society as a whole.
The horrendous toll from military testing, poisonous chemicals and disasters like Bhopal, bear emotive and tragic witness to the dangers of a system which sets the self-interest of a minority against the lives of the masses. Less visible, yet no less destructive, is the impact of an oppressive and exploitative society on our mental health.
The struggle for diagnosis, treatment and cures for illnesses like depression must go hand in hand with the struggle to abolish the social order which sentences millions to a lifetime of financial, social and intellectual poverty.
As socialists we organise everywhere we can to defend the gains of the working class – our healthcare, our education, our pensions, to extend those rights to those denied them, and say that just as we see the bosses privatising the NHS today, so we know that health, education and a decent wage are not rights under capitalism.
Through the struggles to defend what we have, and fight for what we’re owed, we campaign for socialists to build an international, working-class struggle against the capitalist system.
Only the common ownership and democratic management of the worlds’ resources can enable us to lay the basis for achieving a permanent improvement in social relations and mental health.
In a period of capitalist crisis and austerity, social, health and educational provisions for disabled people are among the first things to be cut – disabled people are seen by governments as an easy target. Marginalised and denied a voice in mainstream politics and media, governments across the world have masked the cruelty of cuts to disability services by provoking media witch-hunts against those too sick to work.
In an era of capitalist crisis, the health and struggles of disabled people are a very distant concern for governments. Stirring up popular anger at those on state incapacity benefits serves to divide those who can least help themselves from the rest of the working class which has the most interest in defending them.
Disabled people are typically forced to accept lower wages and worse positions within companies. Private companies refuse to fund support for workers facing mental health problems or physical restrictions, and even use it as an excuse to sack them. Public transport and spaces are often closed off to people in wheelchairs because of a refusal to invest in disabled access infrastructure.
Capitalism super-exploits the disabled, denying them the means to live as full and active life as possible, and ditching vital services as soon as it becomes politically convenient.
In old age, when physical restrictions are a fact of life, pensions are plundered by private firms, state pensions are maintained at poverty rates, transferring the burden of care onto the mostly female shoulders of working families.
Disabled people also suffer from social exclusion, prejudice, bullying and a process of dehumanisation. Media portrayals of benefits claimants as ´scroungers´ are a prop for government policies which outsource assessments of ‘fitness to work’ to private, profit-driven firms. School students with mental health problems suffer higher rates of punishment and exclusion. Recent years have seen a rise in physical attacks on visibly handicapped people. The widespread discrimination against disabled people in society is reproduced in the very places designed to care for them – austerity and cuts will do nothing to reverse the rampant bullying and neglect in private care homes.
Disability drives people and families towards poverty as people are either unable to work or denied work by discriminating employment practices. Welfare provision, already inadequate, is cut, sacrificed in the higher interest of funding bank bailouts. It also burdens the relatives of the disabled, as the capitalist austerity agenda aims to shift the burden of care from the state (or society as a whole) to the family unit. As most families lack the means to pay for private care, this will increase the tendency for women to drop out of the workforce as they fulfill social obligations to act as unpaid, 24/7 carers.
These problems exist on a global scale. Leper colonies still remain open sores of deprivation and misery. Caste systems in India ensure that physically handicapped people are forced to live on the fringes of society, often relying on begging for any sort of income.
Disability is a fact of life, to deny the fullest possible support and care is anti-human, and yet under capitalism the drive for profitability marginalises disabled people and their carers. Moreover, it is a system which delivers increased illness resulting from poor diets and pollution- and disabilities arising from stress, alienation and depression.
• Equal pay and opportunity for disabled workers, to be monitored by workers’ councils.
• Reverse every cut to health, social and education provisions for disabled people.
• A huge increase in social spending, to be paid for by taxing the rich, to ensure equal access to education, healthcare and public spaces.
• Full state provision of support for people with physical and mental handicaps. Nobody should be a prisoner in their home or their body due to poverty.
• Better conditions for care workers to prevent the alienation which leads to abuse.
• Monitoring of care conditions by committees of the workers, residents and families.
• The right of disabled people to caucus within trade unions, working-class organisations and progressive movements
• An end to the religious idea of disability as a form of punishment or ´test´ of moral worth.
• Investment in adequate support for disabled students.
After coming under pressure from corporations to end the protests, police used tear gas, stun grenades and pepper spray to violently evict demonstrators who are demanding an end to the unequal distribution of the world’s wealth.
As Occupy Wall Street neared its 2-month anniversary, more than 70 people were arrested when the NYPD launched a dawn raid to clear the camp. The occupiers have moved to nearby Foley Square – @OccupyFoleySq - and released a statement saying ‘you can’t evict an idea whose time has come‘.
- 33 people were arrested when police cleared @OccupyOakland protesters from Frank Ogawa Plaza on Monday morning.
- 50 people were arrested when police cleared the @OccupyPortland camp in Portland, Oregon on Sunday evening.
- @OccupyVermont was cleared on Sunday, after the suicide of a military veteran.
- More than 24 people were arrested at the clearance of @OccupyStLouis on Saturday.
- Camps in Denver, Colorado and Salt Lake City were also cleared on Saturday.
The Occupy Wall Street movement inspired similar camps across the United States, before spreading across the world, with camps in 951 cities in 82 countries.
The camp in Oakland California sparked the most militant industrial action in the US since the Wisconsin mobilisations against education cuts earlier this year.
Inspired by the Arab Spring and the Spanish youth camps against austerity, the Occupy movement has laid the blame for the economic crisis squarely at the door of the 1% – the elite class of international bankers, capitalists and their governments who are determined to make the 99% pay for their crisis.
By taking the slogan ‘we are the 99%’ to the heart of every major financial district in the world, the movement has opened the door to putting an anti-capitalist alternative at the centre of international resistance to austerity.
The US Occupy camps have been subjected to police violence, intimidation and media vilification from the outset, but the violent clearing of the camps is an escalation which should serve as a warning to the Occupy movement internationally.
When the police in the so-called land of the free are sent in to dismantle a mass movement which targets the heart of the system, then this can only embolden governments in countries with fewer qualms about deploying the state’s monopoly on violence.
Last week the 1% dispensed with democracy to impose governments made up of ‘technocrats’ – people who played a starring role in leading the finance system to crisis in 2008 – on the people of Greece and Italy. They have followed this up with an open attack on the living expressions of people’s anger at this rotten system by clearing the camps.
While many of the camps are small, and cannot expect to effectively resist a determined police eviction, the disorganising and disarming influence of consensus and pacifism within the movement is now exposed as its weakest link.
Faced with the enormously centralised violence and power of the capitalist state – which employs the combined wealth of society to forcibly defend the privileges of the 1% – the Occupy movement must be prepared to react by building its own organisations, capable of defending our camps, demonstrations and alternatives.
The economic crisis is a crisis of capitalism which can only be resolved at the expense of one class over the other.
We stand with the working class, the youth, and the unemployed who produce all the world’s wealth, against the capitalist class – the 1% who defend their exploitation with the bullet and the ballot box.
We stand for resistance to the massacre of jobs, education and public services.
We fight for the creation of a new organisation of struggle which can unite those fighting for an alternative to capitalism.
We need an open debate about methods of struggle, and the forms of organisation which can deliver victory in the struggle for a world based on the needs of the millions, not the millionaires.
- We won’t pay for their crisis – for a 99% tax on the 1%
- Down with the IMF puppet governments in Greece and Italy
- Build general assemblies to co-ordinate resistance in every town and city
If you agree – join us!
In 2008, the Labour government nationalised two of Britain’s biggest banks. They poured so much money (£1trillion+) into them that they owned a majority stake – but they didn’t take control of the money-spinning machines out of the hands of the fat cats. Nope, instead they left the senior management in the City and spent the loose change sending redundancy letters to tens of thousands of bank employees.
Yet that was just the start. The reality is that for all the Tories’ talk of ‘belt-tightening’ and ‘not spending beyond our means’, the age of austerity is actually immensely profitable for those sitting on £trillion of taxpayers’ cash.
And with many bosses following Topshop owner Philip Green and Vodafone’s example by stashing the loot in offshore trusts or sunny Monaco, the majority of the bailout money is coming from the taxes of the millions thrown onto the dole-queue during the cost-cutting frenzy.
Capitalists always cut jobs during recessions, it’s part of the normal cycle of capitalism. What’s different this time is that the government is using the fact that they wrote a blank cheque for the bankers as an excuse to cut half a million jobs in the public sector.
The right-wing media goes on about the ‘bloated’ public sector, but the two most bloated things in Austerity Britain are the bonus culture at taxpayer-owned banks and an annual £120billion bill for tax avoidance. The government found a way we can afford it – by sacking the staff at HM Revenue and Customs, imposing a pay freeze on public-sector workers and cutting their pensions. Because we’re all in this together.
Unsurprisingly, Nick Clegg doesn’t like to talk about this. For him, the real news in the last three years has been the resurrection of the Liberal Democrats as a party of government in British politics. Rewind about 100 years or so the last time the Liberal party was in power: in a coalition with the Tories, voting through conscription and sending 1,000,000 young soldiers to die in the trenches of the First World War to ensure Britain’s imperialist dominance wasn’t challenged by an increasingly powerful Germany.
It’s surely no coincidence that within 6 months of them regaining power in coalition with the Tories, 1million 16-24 year olds are sat in the dole queues, while others work 40-hour weeks to earn £60 a-week unemployment benefit.
But if ‘workfare’ or volunteering for Cameron’s Big Society isn’t your thing you can always go to university (you can see where this is going). Yet despite every Liberal Democrat MP signing a pre-election pledge not to raise tuition fees, one of their first acts in government was to support the Tories in tripling university fees to £9,000 a year. They claimed that they didn’t realise ‘how bad’ the situation was, but if they couldn’t see that throwing £1trillion at the banks would put the country’s finances in a bad state, then should they really be running the country?
After shafting students, the government went on to break several more election promises. One of the most obvious was a promise not to raise VAT. They raised it anyway, punishing people on lower incomes who are hit proportionally harder by VAT since it is levied on everyday items such as food and clothing.
With inflation running at 5% a year the two-year pay-freeze for public sector workers in reality amounts to a 10% pay cut. Increasing inflation which devalues wages and pensions is not helped by the Bank of England’s multi-million pound ‘Quantitative Easing’ which prints more money, which is then used to buy up government bonds for banks – effectively meaning that while the cash in our pockets is worth less and less, millionaire bank owners are gifted enormous sums of money to prop up their parasitic investments.
After bulldozing the students’ resistance to the attacks on Higher Education, school and college students were next in line: the government cut EMA over the Christmas break, opening the ‘season of goodwill’ with a savage attack on the poorest college students.
Then Education secretary Michael Gove announced his big plan to privatise primary and secondary education by extending Labour’s ‘Academies’ scheme. This allows private individuals, businesses, charities and religious organisations to set up so-called ‘free schools’. They are ‘free’ in two senses.
Firstly because they are free from local authority control, i.e. the ‘sponsor’ sets the schools’ curriculum and rules, and sets the criteria for employment, meaning that the school is free to ignore government-set rules on what students should learn and terms and conditions for teachers and support staff. They are also free in the sense that the government provides a big wedge of the money for setting them up. The academies plan also enables existing state schools to ‘opt-out’ of local authority control and place themselves under the control of whichever individual or business has an interest in assuming control over our education.
The attack which has provoked the most outrage however, is the NHS bill, which is nothing more than an attempt to set in motion a wholesale privatisation of the NHS. Under this scheme, control of buying and distributing medical care will be put into the hands of ‘GP’s consortia’ – collectives of GPs who are apparently best qualified to manage the procurement of medical care on a national basis.
Of course, since GP’s have neither the experience nor time to manage this, the Tories expect them to contract this out to multinational private ‘healthcare’ companies who will decide – on the basis of what is profitable or not – who should get what kind of healthcare, and how much they should pay.
All in all, the three years since the economic crash of 2008 has witnessed the most sustained, vicious assault on the social gains of the working class since the 1930s. Everything which we have fought for – universal education, healthcare free at the point of use, pensions, decent wages, housing and jobs – is threatened by a capitalist class which seeks to make ordinary working people and youth pay for a crisis we did not cause.
In the third and final part of this series, we will look at why this crisis is different to the previous recessions in the 70s and 80s, and why that means that we need to build a fresh resistance which rises to the historic challenge of defending not only the welfare state, but setting out an alternative vision of society – one based on production for human need, not bankers’ greed, for the millions – not the millionaires.
Capitalism in crisis: Resistance [coming soon!]
George Osborne’s efforts to salvage some good economic news in the run-up to Tory Party conference seemed to do more harm than good. The last fortnight has seen Capitalism staring into the abyss.
With newspaper headlines like ‘world leaders pray for miracle’ and £78bn wiped off the value off UK shares in the worst week for UK markets since the financial collapse of 2008, it’s no surprise that the Tories were reduced to deflecting attention away from economic meltdown by inventing stories involving immigrants, cats, and the Human Rights Act (all of which Home Secretary Theresa May and the Daily Mail would like to abolish) and planting that story in the Daily Telegraph about how young people don’t have jobs because bosses can’t afford to pay the minimum wage.
Nevertheless, despite not having any actual economic qualifications, Chancellor Osborne can recognise a problem when it slaps him in the face. So when Obama says ‘europe is scaring the world’ with its leaders’ inability to agree which countries’ banks should take a hit for Greece, Osborne puts on his cape (similar to this ridiculous outfit) and announces that Europe’s politicians and bankers have ‘six weeks to save the world’.
By ‘world’ he means the exclusive world of billionaire investors and bosses who have seen their wealth increase 30% in the last year but stand to lose a lot of money on some dodgy stock-market gambling.
Yes, we’ve been here before. In 2008, the world financial system imploded. Lehman Brothers went bust because it ran out of money. So then every bank in the world refused to lend to each other because they thought the other bank might go bust and not repay them. The irony is that banking secrecy rules designed to ensure the super-rich can fleece their workers and conceal their wealth from the taxman were exactly the same rules which ensured banks couldn’t tell which banks had money or were about to run out of money because they’d blown all their customers cash in the Wall Street casino.
Economists called it a ‘Credit Crunch’. Governments across the world announced bailouts amounting to trillions of dollars. Or, £1 million, multiplied by a million. How did this work? Well, imagine you put £10 on England beating France in the rugby this weekend. If England loses, you lose your money. Simple? Not if you’re a banker. If you’ve got the right accent and the right numbers in your BlackBerry you ring up a President or a Prime Minister and convince them that your bank is too important to go bankrupt. Then the government writes you a check, and you write off your debts. And award your top 100 employees a few hundred million pounds in bonuses for another con well pulled.
The system works!
That’s what they said anyway. Unfortunately, the Credit Crunch happened at the start of another of Capitalism’s cyclical recessions (the ‘bust’ that Gordon Brown famously claimed to have eliminated). Because Capitalism works on the basis of bosses producing as much profit as possible, what happens is that bosses aim to maximise production of profitable goods, while reducing the amount of profits spent on unprofitable things likes wages and pensions. This leads to massive over-production of commodities, which leads, inevitably, to a crisis of profitability, because more and more commodities are produced by fewer and fewer workers, meaning that the ‘real’ value of all those commodities reduces over time. So all those houses, factories, tractors etc. can’t be sold at a profit, meaning the bosses have to drastically cut the cost of production in order to return to rates of profit they consider acceptable. The quickest way for capitalists to cut costs is to sack their workers.
So with millions suddenly unemployed and businesses selling a lot less, governments found money from tax receipts plunged, while spending on unemployment benefits rose. This is where the madness of capitalism gets interesting. Because the governments didn’t actually have the £trillions it took to bail out the banks, they had to borrow it. But the only people with that kind of cash to lend are the speculators and financial gangsters who caused the Credit Crunch in the first place. Governments across the world found themselves in £trillions of debt, but with a dramatically reduced income.
Clearly the money had to come from somewhere. In a society divided between two classes, the question of ‘who pays?’ has to be resolved in favour of one class at the expense of another. And because the same capitalists who lent money to the government to bail out the banks also own all the banks, businesses and newspapers, it was fairly easy for them to insist that the government pay them back out of money which is spent on things they don’t need – pensions, public healthcare, and education.
This is what they mean when they say ‘we’re all in it together’. When the governments announced plans to reduce the deficit created by borrowing £trillions to bail out banks, they called it ‘austerity’. Most ordinary people who saw their jobs slashed, hospitals privatised and education decimated called it a disaster.
Everywhere our wages, pensions, education and living conditions are under attack by a government of millionaires that is trying to make ordinary people pay for their crisis.
Racism is the tool of the bosses and politicians to divide resistance from workers to the mass unemployment and poverty that capitalism creates. The government blames low wages and unemployment on the same immigrants which bosses are allowed to ruthlessly exploit.
At a time when the government and entire ruling class is trying to offload the cost of the crisis onto the backs of working people and youth, their newspapers are whipping up a racist frenzy which blames everyone except the bankers for society’s problems.
REVOLUTION fights against racism and fascism in every school, workplace and community. We are committed to smashing the fascist EDL and BNP and organise to stop them wherever they organise.
We say to the million young people without jobs or education in Britain that the blame lies squarely with the bosses, the bankers, and the politicians. These people are the capitalists who use racism and nationalism to try and divide us at every opportunity so that they can continue to exploit us and rob us without resistance.
1% of the richest people in Britain own nearly 50% of the wealth. They keep it that way by keeping the majority of people divided and fighting amongst ourselves. Never before has it been so clear that whatever your race or religion, workers and young people are the ones who suffer the consequences of the bosses’ greed.
Our NHS, schools, pensions, jobs and education are under attack. Unless we unite to defend them they will disappear. The blame for the crisis lies squarely with the bosses, not the migrants, Muslims or public-sector workers.
The capitalist class is not divided along racist lines, and that is why they are the ones with the power.
Workers and young people need to organise as the class of exploited and dispossessed, to seize back the wealth which rightly belongs to all society. When black and white, Jewish and Muslim fight back together, then we can fight for a society free of oppression, where the wealth is shared amongst the millions, not the millionaires.