Capitalism and Employment

Capitalism and Employment

More than a third of workers in Britain are struggling in low-quality jobs that risk damaging their health, according to research by the health Foundation (GUARDIAN 4 February 2020).

In a report exposing the scale of precarious, low-paid or unfulfilling employment across the country, the independent pressure group, Health Foundation said that as many as 36% of workers in Britain - about 10 million people - were in such a position.

Even though there is high employment most of the employment is low-quality and carries health risks. According to the research, as many as 15% of workers in low-quality jobs associated with poor or unhealthy working conditions such as modern day sweatshops associated with Amazon, say they have poor quality health, compared with 7% in better working environments.

The study found that as many as 51% of people in low-quality work in 2010-11 were stuck in the same position six years later. The wages system really is a prison from which the establishment of socialism is the only escape.

You will not find the GUARDIAN, the Health Foundation and similar organisations criticising capitalism. Instead they want government reforms of this or that defect of the profit system bewailing the consequences of capitalism but not addressing the capitalist cause of these problems. They all want the impossible. They want capitalism without the effects of capitalism.

The report also noted that substandard employment extended far beyond zero-hours contracts and the gig economy. The Health Foundation defined low-quality work as a job that has two or more negative aspects, such as poor wellbeing, security, satisfaction, individual autonomy or pay. However, job satisfaction is very rare, lack of individual autonomy is the norm not the exception, the same applies to job security; housing security is increasingly a problem, low pay is so frequent the governments have had to legislate a legal minimum, and wellbeing is hardly the prime consideration for employers. Which may be why, when they have the chance, some workers opt to become self-employed or set up in small businesses.

Adam Tinson, a senior analyst at the Health Foundation, said:

"Low-quality work is where someone feels stressed and unfulfilled, whether that's due to pay, insecurity, a lack of autonomy or a feeling of dissatisfaction. This can harm peoples health."

Socialists would say that any form of employment is wage slavery. Capitalism can never "pay enough". It needs workers hungry enough to be employed. Workers can never be given autonomy because they are employed to be told what to do, when and for whom. Even the self-employed have to jump to the tune of those giving them work.

Capitalist Governments cannot Abolish Poverty

According to a separate study, published in early February 2020 by the Resolution Foundation, sustained employment is no safeguard against in-work poverty for people across the country (GUARDIAN 4 February 2020).

The Resolution Foundation said that poverty rates fall from 35% to 18% when people move into work, but that there had been a sharp rise in the number of working households in Britain struggling to make ends meet. However, being a worker means that you will always be struggling to make ends meet. Capitalism is a system in which the profit imperative dominates and not the meeting of human need.

The report goes to note that among adults in poverty in Britain; almost seven in 10 live in households where at least one person works. This figure has risen from five in 10 two decades ago.

In tandem with this has been the rapid growth in charities and food banks. Over the last 12 months, a wealthy Surrey town's food banks reported a doubling of the number of food parcels they had given out. Whenever the benefits system is discussed in Parliament, there are MPs - from all parties and all parts of the country - reporting the dire misery and distress of their constituents.

Labour politicians blame the Tory government's 'universal credit' for its harshness, as for over a month when being transferred from other benefits the unfortunate claimants are left to live on fresh air, many finding themselves evicted and homeless as a result. But the post-war Labour government, with its Beveridge reform to replace a pre-war hotchpotch of overlapping schemes, also aimed to simplify the system and reduce the cost. In doing so, it omitted to provide pensions for workers over a certain qualifying age.

Only socialism will Abolish Poverty

The real definition of poverty is in not owning the means of production in common and under democratic control. The Poverty which affects all workers is not having direct access to what you need in order to live well. And poverty is not producing what society needs but producing commodities for exchange and profit. Workers live in a wages system which is a form of rationing forcing workers to buy commodities sufficient only to reproduce them and their children as an exploited class. What the wage or salary can buy is not the same as they need to live well and in security.

Lindsay Judge, principal analyst at Resolution, said: "Work alone cannot eliminate poverty. Support to sustain employment and progress out of low pay are needed alongside a benefit system that provides adequate support for low-income working families."

Hidden in this text is a "blame the Tories" narrative, as though poverty is all the fault of subsequent "evil" Tory administrations and life would be much better for the workers under a Labour Government. Look at past Labour government records. They were forced by capitalism and the interest of the employers to attack the living standards of workers.

Previous Labour governments introduced austerity measures, use troops to break strikes, spied on trade unionists, imposed pay restraints and blamed workers for not being productive. They also forced workers to wage war against other workers in Two World Wars and in minor ones. For the working class there is no difference between a Labour and a Tory government. Both have to administer capitalism in the interest of the capitalist class.

Ms Judge does not tell the truth of the matter. No matter what employment workers find themselves in they are exploited. The working class as a whole are exploited by the capitalist class who own and control the means of production and distribution. Workers are forced into employment, forced to work for a wage or a salary and dismissed from employment when they are unprofitable to hire.

They produce what Marx called "surplus value". The issue is not low pay, the type of job a worker has but employment. Furthermore governments are not charities. They do not exist to provide "adequate support for low income working families". Governments exist to serve the interest of the capitalist class, to keep taxation and expense on "social security" as low as possible.

What should be the issue is to end the rationing of the wages system and for the working class to abolish capitalism and replace the profit system with the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production by all of society.

It was Marx who put employment in its right context:

"At the same time, and quite apart from the general servitude involved in the wages system, the working class ought not to exaggerate to themselves the ultimate working of these everyday struggles. They ought not to forget that they are fighting with effects, but not with the causes of those effects; that they are retarding the downward movement, but not changing its direction; that they are applying palliatives, not curing the malady. They ought, therefore, not to be exclusively absorbed in these unavoidable guerrilla fights incessantly springing up from the never ceasing encroachments of capital or changes of the market. They ought to understand that, with all the miseries it imposes upon them, the present system simultaneously engenders the material conditions and the social forms necessary for an economical reconstruction of society. Instead of the conservative motto: "A fair day's wage for a fair day's work!" they ought to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchword: "Abolition of the wages system!" (WAGES, PRICE AND PROFIT)

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Object and Declaration of Principles


The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.

Declaration of Principles


1. That society as at present constituted is based upon the ownership of the means of living (ie land, factories, railways, etc.) by the capitalist or master class, and the consequent enslavement of the working class, by whose labour alone wealth is produced.

2. That in society, therefore, there is an antagonism of interests, manifesting itself as a class struggle, between those who possess but do not produce and those who produce but do not possess.

3.That this antagonism can be abolished only by the emancipation of the working class from the domination of the master class, by the conversion into common property of society of the means of production and distribution, and their democratic control by the whole people.

4. That as in the order of social evolution the working class is the last class to achieve its freedom, the emancipation of the working class will involve the emancipation of all mankind without distinction of race or sex.

5. That this emancipation must be the work of the working class itself.

6. That as the machinery of government, including the armed forces of the nation, exists only to conserve the monopoly by the capitalist class of the wealth taken from the workers, the working class must organise consciously and politically for the conquest of the powers of government, national and local, in order that this machinery, including these forces, may be converted from an instrument of oppression into the agent of emancipation and the overthrow of privilege, aristocratic and plutocratic.

7. That as all political parties are but the expression of class interests, and as the interest of the working class is diametrically opposed to the interests of all sections of the master class, the party seeking working class emancipation must be hostile to every other party.

8. The Socialist Party of Great Britain, therefore, enters the field of political action determined to wage war against all other political parties, whether alleged labour or avowedly capitalist, and calls upon the members of the working class of this country to muster under its banner to the end that a speedy termination may be wrought to the system which deprives them of the fruits of their labour, and that poverty may give place to comfort, privilege to equality, and slavery to freedom.