Socialist Studies Socialist Studies


Ordinarily, the ideas and beliefs which act as barriers to the urgent need to establish socialism are transmitted from parents, teachers, politicians, academics, teachers and priests.

One insidious barrier to the dissemination of socialist ideas is the existence of hundreds of charities who misleadingly claim that capitalism can be reformed to end poverty and war.

The facts are not in dispute:

· The world’s three richest people control more wealth than all 600 million people in the world’s poorest countries;

· 2.8 billion people - nearly half the world’s population - live on less than £1.20 a day. One in five survives on less than   65p per day;

· Every day, 30,000 children die as a result of extreme poverty;

· Each day, 50,000 people die of hunger and preventable illnesses.

(Statistics from THE INDEPENDENT, 1 June 2005)

All this is totally unnecessary. All these social problems are caused by capitalism and private
property ownership where production takes place for profit.

We are now being told that a coalition of charities called Make Poverty History and by the organisers of the Live 8 concert that politicians have the power to end world poverty. They do not. Politicians, whether well intentioned or devious, have to serve the interests of the capitalist class. Capitalist countries are in competition with each other as are individual capitalists and capitalist governments exist, as Marx pointed out, to act as “the executive of the bourgeoisie”.

What better platform could there be than to say at a pop concert in front of millions of people that capitalism causes poverty and that the solution is for the world’s inhabitants is for a majority working class to politically and consciously set about establishing Socialism where social needs will be met.

This important message will not be heard. Socialists are denied access to the media and denied the attention enjoyed by celebrities and well-financed charities. Instead of sound socialist argument against capitalism there will be pointless marching, empty slogans and inevitable disappointment when the charity lobby fails yet again to solve world poverty.

Make capitalismhistory” should have been the slogan. But to make capitalism history would require conscious and political, socialist action from the working class, action which both the charities and Live 8 reject as unnecessary. They refuse to believe that, before you can end poverty, you first have to abolish capitalism.

Poverty flows from the wages system. Capitalism restricts production despite human needs being unmet. Poverty is caused by commodity production and exchange for profit. It is caused because the means of production are owned and controlled by a minority capitalist class, by a class system which is not even referred to in the MPH’s literature.

The only framework in which poverty can be ended and people’s needs met is the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society.

To “make poverty history” first requires the formation of a world-wide socialist majority. Against this force for freedom from capital is the barrier of the charities, those who work for them, and those who give them their support. By spreading the misleading idea that capitalism can be reformed in the interests of all society, they draw attention away from the socialist case against the profit system.

As for the Live 8 event: nowhere is the conspicuous and predictable failure of charities to end poverty more obvious than in this revival after 20 years of a pop concert led by Bob Geldof. The problems of poverty over the last twenty years have not been resolved. It is impossible to end poverty without first putting an end to the cause of poverty: The capitalist cause of poverty still persists. Those who learn nothing from history are condemned to repeat the same mistakes again.

Back to top

Socialist Studies

email: |