As the deaths from the pandemic increased to over 230,000 in November, the U.S. electorate voted in record numbers for Joe Biden as President of the United States of America. Did Biden win the election? Socialists disagree. But if it wasnâ€™t Biden, who was it?
The winner was capitalism. It was the profit system. The election means capitalism for another four years. Wall Street was pleased. Industrialists smiled. Landlords looked happy. Bankers, Hedge fund owners and financiers looked relaxed. There is to be four more years of wage slavery for the working class, and four more years of profit, privilege and comfort for the capitalist class.
The capitalist class have nothing to fear from Biden. He will run the United States in the interest of the capitalist class. As do all Presidents. That is their job.
Black lives won't matter. The poor will remain poor. The working class will still be exploited. The need for decent housing and health provision will go unmet. Roughly 1 in 8 Americans is considered 'officially poor' (U.S. Bureau of the Census 2019 1-year estimates).
Then there is the poverty associated with housing. According to The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, more than 40 million American families find themselves in a situation where housing consumes more than 30 percent of their income, forcing them to maintain a nearly impossible balance by making hard decisions about food, transportation and health. Do not think Biden will resolve this problem.
What about 'Black Lives Matter'? What about police violence against black workers often resulting in death? What about millions of black workers disproportionately imprisoned in the United States? Again, nothing will be done. Biden knows that the police, the National Guard and the military exists, foremost, to protect private property. He will do nothing to endanger the prime function of the coercive forces of the government from defending the institution of private property over which he is in charge. The private ownership of the means of production and distribution will be safe in his hands.
Biden will be a prisoner of the profit system. Profit is all that matters.
Will Biden end war? No, he'll continue wars and start new ones. He already has form as Vice President under the Obama administration.
The U.S. is engaged in war and conflict across the globe. According to the SMITHSONIAN Magazine (January 2019) the U.S. is now operating in 40 percent of the world's nations in its War on Terror. The war isn't being waged by the military alone, which has spent $1.9 trillion fighting terrorism since 2001.
The State Department has spent $127 billion in the last 17 years to train police, military and border patrol agents in many countries and to develop anti-terrorism education programs, among its other activities. This will be continued by President Biden.
There is also the question of capitalist Russia and China. Biden will maintain the tensions between the U.S., Russia in the Ukraine and against China in the South Seas on behalf of the U.S. capitalist class. Wars reflect the determination of governments to gain or to maintain the mastery of territories where there are rich mineral deposits, vital land, sea or air routes or areas where commodities can be sold or capital invested. As commander in chief, President Biden will pursue the interests of the United States across the globe even if it means conflict, war, death and destruction.
What of the environment? What about the much touted 'Green New Deal'? It will be watered down by conflicting interests within the capitalist class. It will go the way of Roosevelt's New Deal: and become a failure. You cannot reform capitalism in the interest of the working class. The environmentalists will be disappointed just as they will be on the politics of climate change.
Most countries play lip service to the reforms pursued by the United Nations and will not introduce legislation which will harm their own capitalist interests if it does not equally affect the capitalist interests of other countries. The United States is no different. We'll see President Biden being photographed with Greta Thunberg. But then she will find that it was just a publicity stunt. Publicity stunts cost nothing. To resolve the serious environmental problems affecting the world requires the abolition of capitalism and its replacement with socialism.
What about the capitalist left who, Trump says, will own Biden? They are irrelevant. They will be ignored. Biden will appoint hard-nosed administrators to run his capitalist policies. How quickly will the capitalist left become disappointed with Biden? Very quickly: within months.
Then there is the capitalist economy. Biden will be powerless to prevent economic crises and trade depressions. He will be unable to prevent bankruptcies and a high level of unemployment. He will be powerless to do anything to arrest the economic laws of capitalism.
Workers should understand that capitalism can never be run in their interest. Capitalism has won for another four years. It needn't be the case four years from now. They'll always be disappointed by political leaders. They shouldn't elect political leaders in the first place. Workers have to understand that the problems of poverty, violence by the state, poor housing, class exploitation and inadequate health provision and war all flow from capitalism and the profit system.
It flows because the means to life, resources, land, factories, transport and communication system, distribution points and what is produced in the form of commodities for sale are all owned by the capitalist class to the exclusion of the rest of society.
Production under capitalism only takes place if a profit can be made. This means that most of us, the working class, have to sell our labour power for a wage or salary in order to live. There is only one privileged class in society and that is the capitalist class whether white, black, Hispanic, male, female, Jewish, atheist or Christian fundamentalist.
Biden or Trump was no alternative. The Republicans and Democrats are on the same side when it comes to defending the profit system. For the working class there was no fundamental difference between Trump and Biden. Biden won and he will now run capitalism just as Trump would have done. It may not be as crude, racist and authoritarian as Trump, but Biden will run the same system.
There will be no basic change to the capital-labour relationship. Workers will still be forced into employment and the wages system. There will be no revolution. Workers will continue to be exploited. And if workers are not profitable to employ then they will be made unemployed with all the social discomfort this always brings with it; break up of families, ill-health, drug abuse, petty theft, homelessness and stress. They will still be required to fight in capitalism's wars.
So what would an alternative for the working class look like? It would be a socialist alternative made up of the conscious and political action of a socialist majority towards a socialist object. This socialist movement would have to take place within a principled socialist party with socialism, and only socialism, as its object. Socialists would send socialist delegates to form a majority in the institutions of political power in order to replace capitalism with socialism. That is, to replace the profit system with the common ownership and democratic control over the means of production and distribution by all of society. That is the socialist alternative to capitalism and the socialist alternative to Biden and Trump and the capitalist class they represent.
Is The Pandemic Killing Capitalism?
The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has led some commentators on the capitalist left to wonder whether the virus will do for capitalism as the Black Death of 1348-9 did for feudalism. What will rise from the 'ashes of capitalism', they ask? Will it be a kinder and more humane economy; even a socialist one?
Paul Mason, the left wing journalist and Labour Party supporter, thinks a change is on the cards. Writing in an article 'Will coronavirus signal the end of capitalism?' (AL JAZEERA 3 April 2020), Mason asks the question:
'The peasants' revolt after the 14th-century plague saw off feudalism. After COVID-19, will it be the turn of capitalism?'
Mason went on to say:
"Today, capitalism faces its own plague nightmare. Though the COVID-19 virus may kill between 1 percent and 4 percent of those who catch it, it is about to have an impact on a much more complex economy than the one that existed back in the 1340s - one with a much more fragile geopolitical order, and on a society already gripped with foreboding over climate change."
He said he was stunned:
"... when I saw analysts from the Australian investment group, Macquarie Wealth, one of most capitalist companies in the world, tell investors: "Conventional capitalism is dying, or at least mutating into something closer to a version of communism."
"...capitalism is unlikely to survive, long term - and in the short term it can only survive by adopting features of post-capitalism."
Post-Capitalism has nothing to do with socialism/communism'
Mason's 'post-capitalism' has nothing to do with socialism/communism. Socialism and communism mean the same thing. 'Post-capitalism' has nothing to do with a majority of socialists democratically and politically establishing the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society.
Instead, Mason's 'post-capitalism' is based upon a series of reforms. It rests on a misreading of Marx's section on machines in the, the imposition by governments of a Universal Basic Income and prices for a whole range of commodities approaching zero due to the introduction of robotics and artificial intelligence. It is not 'post-capitalism' but capitalist. The prefix 'post' is meaningless. Wage labour will still be exploited in Mason's reformist utopia.
Is Capitalism Dying?
What of the claim about capitalism's demise made by the investment bank, Macquarie Wealth? Is conventional capitalism 'dying'?
Nowhere in the world is the profit motive and capital accumulation dying, not even where there are trade depressions and high levels of unemployment. Capitalism exists as a world-wide social system.
Those workers, who still remain in employment, are being exploited producing more social wealth than they receive in wages and salaries. They are still producing, what Marx called, 'surplus value'. Just look at Amazon and the profit this global corporation is making.
Capitalism is not going to mutate into something nearer 'communism'. What Macquarie means by 'communism' appears to be nothing more than nationalisation, which is state capitalism.
Communism means the abolition of employment, labour markets and the wages system, not its retention. And where is the evidence that mass nationalisation is going to take place?
The Black Death and Covid-19
What of the relationship between the Black Death, the emergence of capitalism and the conditions necessary for the establishment of socialism?
In England, a third of the population died. And it affected the poor peasants more than it did the wealthy ruling class, much like Covid-19 today. The historian, Mark O'Brian wrote:
"Amongst the attendants of the House of Lords,... only 4.5 per cent died in 1348 and 13 per cent the following year. Only one member of the royal household was struck down...the wealthy ensured that they remained relatively protected from the rats and fleas that brought death to the doors of the rest of the population".
(A HISTORY OF THE PEASANTS REVOLT OF 1381: WHEN ADAM DELVED AND EVE SPAN 2004, pp16-18).
In fact, it was future generations of peasants who were later transformed into wage slaves. The peasants were defeated in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381. Richard II was wrong in telling the defeated peasants that they would remain peasants forever.
The Feudal ruling class did not disappear until forced out by class struggle over a number of centuries, a class struggle which took place with an emerging capitalist class. The Black Death did not see a return to pre-fourteenth century social relations but a gradual removal of the peasants from the common grazing lands, by revolutionary changes in agrarian production and the creation of a propertyless class of workers forced onto the labour market.
Mason conveniently leaves out of the equation the class struggle, which, for Marx, was the 'motor force of industry' (COMMUNIST MANIFESTO). For someone who has read Marx, Mason has paid little or no attention to Marx's detailed study in part 8 of the first volume of CAPITAL (chapters 26 to 32) describing it as 'so-called Primitive Accumulatio'.
Will capitalism survive Covid-19?
What of the Coronavirus pandemic? Is it threatening capitalism, as Mason and others believe?
The current world death toll from Covid-19 as of 1st May 2020 is 307,000. Given a world population of 7.5 billion this is a ratio of 1 person dying in 25,000. The Spanish flu, 1918- 1920, claimed an estimated 50 million lives, 1 in 36 people worldwide.
The First World War claimed another estimated 18 million lives so, added together with deaths from Spanish flu, that amounts to about 1 person in 26 worldwide.
The equivalent today would, and could, reach 300m but, sadly as in 1920, this will have no effect on the relationship of exploitation by capital on labour that Marx identified and explained in CAPITAL in 1867.
For the same reason, the OBJECT AND DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES published by the Socialist Party of Great Britain in 1904 remains unaltered as a description of the capitalist world we live in today based upon the private ownership of the means of production and distribution by a minority capitalist class to the exclusion of a working class majority. Capitalism remains a global system of class exploitation where the profit motive dominates and the accumulation of capital holds true.
Only the working class can abolish capitalism.
Though capitalism is brittle, it can take huge crises, wars, conflicts, environmental degradation, pandemics and survive.
There were 55 million dead during the Second World War with complete devastation of two major capitalist powers: Germany and Japan who was also faced with the horror and devastation of two nuclear bombs dropped by the United States on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, West Germany, albeit divided by the war, and Japan both emerged as powerful world countries some 25 years later.
Putting global warming into context, capitalism will survive even if parts of the earth become uninhabitable and some other parts are environmentally damaged. There is nothing in the forecasts by scientists that say that capitalism, in this event, would become impossible to function as a global system of class exploitation.
Nevertheless, economic wars and pandemics do not suit the capitalist propaganda machine who continually endeavour, through its spurious economic industry of think tanks, universities, and media to try and convince a confused working class that history shows that things continually get better and better and, therefore, capitalism does not need to be replaced by socialism.
The real 'impossibilists' are the Mason's of the world, the left wingers and social democrats who believe that capitalism can be regulated and tamed into an amicable socially responsible regime that will distribute its wealth equitably. It canâ€™t.
So, the only route to establishing socialism remains the working class who will have to think politically and act in their own interests. Otherwise, capitalism will just go from one pandemic to the next, from one economic crisis to the next and one war to the next.
Daily statistics on Covid-19
WW1 18million deaths in WW1 (military & civilian)
Nancy Bristow's book AMERICAN PANDEMIC: THE LOST WORLDS OF THE 1918 INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC (Oxford University Press, 2016) explains that the flu virus affected as many as 500 million people around the world. At the time, this represented a third of the global population. As many as 50 million people died from the virus, though the true figure is thought to be even higher.
On 20th October 2020, 322 Tory MPs voted down Labour's motion to implement the footballer Marcus Rushford's plan to pay for free breakfast for children in poverty over the school holiday period. The Labour Party saw this as a good opportunity to regain support from the working class in the North and Midlands, votes which they had lost at the last election, while at the same time showing-up Boris Johnson's Tory government as evil and callous.
However, the working class should avoid the Labour Party and its machinations. They are just like the Tories. When looking at the question of poverty, it is useful to see it in historical terms transcending Tory, Labour, Liberal and national unity governments.
What of child poverty at the beginning of the Twentieth century? In the first issue of the SOCIALIST STANDARD (September 1904) there appeared an article 'Physical Deterioration' which referred to a report issued by the Inter-Departmental Committee on Physical Deterioration commissioned by the Tory government.
National efficiency was all the rage at the time. When workers volunteered to join the army, to fight in the South African war, around 50% of the potential recruits were found to be unfit. Government set up an inter-departmental Committee on Physical Deterioration to investigate whether the health of British people was getting worse. It found many examples of poor health and living conditions.
In the report:
"We are told that over 100.000 school children in London alone go breakfastless to school. For them there is little hope for a sturdy manhood. Arrest the progress of physical deterioration amongst the children through the provision of meals by the State to all school children and you will do much to strengthen the physique and stamina of the race."
Why the report? Was it written to assuage the conscience of the capitalist class in 1904 that 100,000 London children went without breakfast? Not at all. The article went on to say:
"It is to be observed that it was not from any desire on the part of the governing class to improve the lot of the working-class because they were physically deteriorating that this Committee was appointed, but because of the difficulty of obtaining a sufficient supply of recruits for the army".
Poverty only interested the politicians because of the negative effect it was having on army recruitment for capitalism's wars. A child going without food is not new. The real question to be answered is why is it still a social problem over a century later? Why after a century of social reforms does child poverty still exist?
The Labour Party paints the cause of the problem as the deliberate policy of the evil and callous Tories. Labour thinks they can solve child poverty. They cannot.
They have been in government on several occasions since 1906 and child poverty, unemployment and other social problems still existed when they left government. No Labour government has eradicated child poverty.
It is not just governments which cause workers' problems or are to blame for not solving them. It is the economic system of class monopoly and profit making which is the cause of poverty. Children are in poverty because of capitalism. They are in poverty because their parents cannot earn enough money to feed their children decently and properly. Workers and their children are poor because they lack the means to afford the best that is available. They are in poverty because of the private ownership of the means of production and distribution by a minority capitalist class which excludes them.
It is easy to blame the Tories but it's much harder to tell the truth that child poverty is caused by the profit system. Much harder to say that the current economic system of capitalism is the cause of poverty and for child poverty to end requires the abolition of capitalism. And this truth was not spoken by the Labour opposition in the commons debate on child poverty and its extension to cover breakfasts in the school holidays. The fact is, the Labour Party does not exist to end capitalism but to continue the profit system from one generation to the next. The Labour Party, in wanting to run capitalism 'better' than the Tories perpetuates the problem of poverty.
When they were last in power, in the first two terms there were 2.7m children in child poverty, this rose to 2.9m in 2007/8 before edging down to 2.8m in 2008/09. Its boast to halve child poverty by 2010 and end child poverty by 2020 were just political rhetoric with no substance. A world economic crisis intervened, and the Labour government were eventually replaced as an abject failure by the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition.
Capitalism can only be run by governments in one way: and that is to serve the interest of the capitalist class. Enough could be produced to adequately feed all children but the priority of the profit system prevents this from happening.
So, if you do not want to see children miss out on breakfast. If you want to end child poverty, then there is only one course of action. Become socialists, create a socialist movement that can change history and consciously and politically replace the profit system with the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society.
Only the establishment of socialism can end poverty. Only then can we all have access to food (and everything else) through the socialist principle: from each according to their abilities to each according to their needs.
Whatever became of those 100,000 children in 1904 that went without their breakfast? Ten years later, they and their fathers were fighting in a 'war to end all wars'; a war supported by the Labour Party.
Capitalism's Environmental Crisis (3 of 5)
Defending the Indefensible
What of those capitalists directly causing global warming? What about the fossil fuel industry? The fossil fuel lobby is well financed and politically connected. The five biggest oil and gas companies, and their industry groups, have spent at least €251m (£217m) lobbying the European Union over climate policies since 2010 (GUARDIAN 24/10/19).
The fossil fuel industry has politicians in its pocket. In February 2012, leaked documents showed the U.S. think-tank the Heartland Institute's core mission is to discredit the established climate science. It has been receiving support from wealthy individuals including the Koch brothers and corporations such as Microsoft and RJR Tobacco, and has been making payments to bloggers, experts, schools and scientists to cast doubt on climate science
Why deny the science of global warming? Obviously they have the money. Lucrative consultancy fees buy the services of academics, journalists and politicians. It is financially worth-while to set-up as a free market institute, get some income sponsorship from corporate or individual capitalists, hold conferences, and publish reports and pamphlets defending the interest of clients and benefactors. Lazy, uncritical journalists will then publish summaries of these reports denying climate change. Climate change deniers will have free access to mainstream and social media to spread disinformation and anti-scientific ideas.
There is nothing wrong with scepticism. Marx wrote that we should question everything. There has been ideology masquerading as science before. We only have to remember the so-called 'race science' of the U.S. and Europe as well as Lynseko's 'biology' in the former USSR. Unfortunately, scepticism lets in the denialists. Healthy scientific scepticism gives way to scientific fraud.
How are we to judge between the science and the denial of the science when the deniers often use scientific language to give some other explanation for global warming rather than fossil fuel emissions? The climate change deniers throw sand in our eyes and make sound science seem dubious and deceitful.
So it comes as no surprise that capitalists in the US give millions of dollars to free market think tanks like the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation to publish pamphlets denying climate change science. Free market fundamentalism is a theology of almost biblical proportions, not a science.
The free marketeers defend groups of capitalists who want no restraint on their business practices and who believe any environmental regulation is drifting towards 'socialism', although it is doubtful if they understand the meaning of socialism. The free marketers believe that climate change science and the case for socialism are one and the same. A crazy ideology pursued by crazy people.
Then there are the climate deniers themselves, like the Tory MP, Craig Morley, who claimed that the climate crisis has been exaggerated to create a 'socialist Trojan horse' (GUARDIAN 7/11/20).
He, and politicians like him, believe that global warming is a conspiracy to allow socialism in through the back door. Only the politically stupid believe in such conspiracy theories.
Morley, of course, confuses social and environmental reforms with socialism. The climate crisis has not been exaggerated and it is supported by climate science. To solve the climate crisis requires the establishment of socialism not social reforms.
Some corporations want to have their cake and eat it. Google, for example, recently boasted about its net-zero emissions and its investments in wind and solar energy with its CEO claiming that sustainability is one of its core values.
However, that action has not stopped it from donating to organizations that have lobbied against climate legislation, questioned climate, science or actively fought to reverse environmental reforms (Smithsonian Institute, 11/10/19).
Google's real core value, over-riding all other considerations, has to be its profit margins and so-called 'shareholder value'. Its CEO like others of his sort knows that his salary and pension depend on the firm's share price staying high, and that in turn depends on shareholders - both private, institutional or investment fund managers - retaining confidence in the Google management. Once they lose confidence on seeing their share price drop, a CEO finds he has no more job security than a Premier League football manager.
Talking of Google: every year, the company hosts a conference to discuss global issues. Google invites experts, capitalists, CEOs and a sprinkling of celebrities to debate and share ideas in a private setting. In 2019, the 7th Annual Google Camp was held in Palermo, Sicily and the theme was climate change.
Google hired out the luxury Verdura Resort with its 230 hectares of Mediterranean coastline, countryside, spa and golf course. Hotel staff were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements and all social media was banned. The tiny airport in Palermo was told to prepare for the arrival of 114 private jets carrying celebrities from around the world.
Conference guests included such noted climate change experts as Prince Harry, Leonardo di Caprio, Bradley Cooper and Katy Perry. Luxury yachts began to arrive, including producer David Geffen's $400m vessel named Rising Sun. Entertainment was courtesy of Coldplay, who performed with an extravagant light show at the Valley of Temples in Agrigento, an ancient Greek site which costs $100k to hire.
Guests were taken around the island in Maserati and SUVs. Prince Harry reportedly gave a heartfelt speech about global warming, pacing on stage barefoot. Observers began to calculate the environmental cost of the climate change conference.
Each of the 114 first class flights from LA to Palermo generated 12.3 tonnes of CO2 per guest. If Prince Harry flew on a private jet from London, this would have used 1.3 tonnes of CO2. An environmental group called Trees for the Future estimated that 190 trees should be planted to off-set this journey alone. The total cost of the 3-day jaunt is estimated at $20 million.
Another hypocrite is Legal and General Investment Management (LGIM), one of the UK's biggest fund managers. During 2019 it spent nearly £300m increasing its shareholdings in companies it had earlier named and shamed for dragging their heels on climate action (GUARDIAN, 8/11/19). Under capitalism, profit instead of people and the environment - under capitalism it can be no other way. LGIM invests on behalf of private and corporate investors who want as high a return on their investments as they can get even if it adds to the global warming crisis.
Then there are the politicians. According to the Centre for Responsive Politics, in the U.S., 87 per cent of the fossil fuel industry's donations go to Republican candidates, whose campaigns benefit from millions of dollars as a result. (INDEPENDENT 23/9/19). In 2017 the Guardian reported that oil executives gave £390,000 directly to the Tory party after Theresa May became Prime Minister. That could prove to be a mere fraction of the money spent on lobbying and other activities designed to influence political debate.
Some politicians, like the President of the United States, Donald Trump wants the US out of the Paris climate change accord. He wants to side with the US fossil fuel industry to make 'America Great Again', which came out forcibly this year in his Davos lecture. Trump articulates the interests of the fossil fuel industry. He not only rejects the science but offers a conspiracy theory as to who is to blame. Trump said:
"The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make the US manufacturing non-competitive"
Others, like President Macron in France, want stricter environmental regulations. However, what will companies in France, e.g. the French oil company Total, do when tighter regulation makes them less competitive than the US?
Climate deniers have not given up their opposition to plans to curtail fossil fuel use and among their new tactics they have also tried to encourage 'doom and gloomism'. This is the type of negative politics now coming out of Global Warming Policy Foundation which is connected to climate-denying journalists like Matthew Ridley, Christopher Monckton, James Delingpole and Nigel Lawson.
In The TELEGRAPH, DAILY EXPRESS, FINANCIAL TIMES and other media outlets, journalists will say, for example, that consumer capitalism can never change in a fundamental way.
Recently, the TIMES economic journalist attacked critics of the fossil fuel industry under the banner of 'Green is the new greed in the battle against climate change' (TIMES 25/1/20).
He said that it was economically impossible to halt oil exploration because the price of oil would soar. Nor could it be taxed for the same reason because such a punitive measure could not be globally enforced. He blamed the growing population as one reason why fossil fuel use will not go away forecasting a population of about 9 million over the next twenty years forgetting the negative impact global warming will have on populations and he added the need for developing countries in Africa to have electricity to meet rising population growth and to mitigate poverty. He pointed to riots in Ecuador when it took $1.3 billion of fuel subsidies off oil, thereby increasing its price.
This argument is being pushed by climate sceptics such as Spiked-on line. There line is that you cannot do anything about the fossil fuel industry. We might be going to hell in a handcart, they say, but enjoy consumer capitalism while it lasts. There is no alternative.
Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University commented on this new tactic:
"This is the idea that we are now so late in the game [in tackling global warming] that there is nothing that we can do about the problem,...By promoting this doom and gloom attitude this leads people down a path of despair and hopelessness and finally inaction, which actually leads us to the same place as outright climate-change denialism." (OBSERVER 10/11/19)
This argument which encourages pessimism and says nothing can be done is a conservative argument. The individual consumers must make sacrifices, they say. Stop eating meat, forgo your summer holiday aboard, and drive your car less and so on. It is the individual consumer that is to blame not capitalism or the fossil fuel industry. Just as Jacob Rees Mogg blamed the residents of Grenfell Tower for being burnt to death - due he said to their lack of basic 'common sense', so global warming is the fault of the working class since most of us are consumers. The system canâ€™t be changed. Capitalism is all we've got, so they say.
This is a cruel and idiotic conservatism. Conservatism really is the highest form of ignorance and the lowest form of thought. Of course, there is the possibility of change, of course there is an alternative to capitalism, to the market and to the economic, social and environmental problems capitalism causes to our lives. That alternative is revolutionary socialism.
S.O.S - Save Our Sales! Let the Poor, Sick and Elderly Die
You can feel the pain from the owners of capital. The Lockdown is affecting their investments. It comes out in the opinion columns of newspapers and on programmes like LBC, peopled by journalists from the DAILY MAIL and DAILY EXPRESS, and from SKY NEWS (owner Rupert Murdoch). The previous policy of lockdowns in three ascending tiers of economic damage, disrupts and ruins profitability. And under capitalism, profitability is the name of the game. There then came the second lock down. Johnson's second lockdown has not gone down well with free market zealots in his Cabinet or on the back benchers. They want capitalism open for business with profit to be made. The capitalists need profit like vampires need blood.
The obsession for profit is not about greed. Making profit is imposed upon capitalists by the competitive pressures of the market. All the businesses in a particular sector of production, like construction, hospitality and retail are in competition with each other to sell their commodities.
This competitive battle will be won by those capitalists who can sell their commodities cheaper than their rivals.
And because capitalism is a global system of class exploitation, competition is world-wide. British capitalism shut down is at the mercy of its competitors abroad. There is no sentiment in the marketplace. Capitalist destroy their competitors. There is no compassion in capitalism.
President Trump understood this only too well. His presidency stood astride 250,000 dead. He knew capitalism had to be kept open at any cost. He understood profit because he was a capitalist and Johnson only served capitalists. Keep American capitalism open and don't let the Chinese win out, was Trump's economic philosophy. His rallies resulted in 30,000 more Covid cases which led to 700 more deaths. "Profit! Profit! Profit!" not "Covid! Covid! Covid!" was the only truth Trump understood (INDEPENDENT 2nd November 2020).
Nigel Farage and his free market business associates in UKIP understand the profit imperative. They have even set-up an anti-lock-down Party which will attract support from business who usually funding the Tories. Farage was given open access to the capitalist media to put his point of view.
He was also given space by the Barclay Brothers, once reserved for Boris Johnson, to write an article in the DAILY TELEGRAPH on why British capitalism should be allowed to remain open regardless of cost.
The Tories have historically had the support from the brewing and hospitality industry as well as from the landlords of the large City Offices such as the Duke of Westminster who has office holdings in Mayfair.
They are not very happy in losing money. They want paying customers back. They have shareholders and investors to placate. Barratt, the house builder has seen its profits almost halved by Covid-19. It is bad news for its shareholders:
"The company did not pay out any dividends to its shareholders last year and given the unprecedented impact of covid-19 and the importance of a resilient balance sheet, it will no longer propose the FY21 special dividend of £175m which would have been payable in November 2021." (BUILDING 2 September 2020).
What of all those empty office spaces and the plans to build millions more square feet of prime located office space in London and other cities? Future profits are at risk. Canary Wharf Group, joint-owned by Qatari Diar and Brookfield, is London's largest landowner, with 21.5m sq ft of property, while the City of London came second, with 17.4m sq ft of space. They do not want their offices to remain empty, they do not want the lease owners asking for reduced rent or not renewing their lease.
The Tories also had the support from multinationals and billionaires who own the coffee shop chains and sandwich bars. That too is threatened as the profits are reduced. Billionaire Gerry Ford owns the Cafe Nero chain and is a donor to the Tories. Cafe Nero has not paid any corporation tax in the UK since 2007 on sales of £2 billion but is feeling the pinch and has called in KPMG to look at reducing rents and identifying store closures. Costa is owned by the Coco Cola Company. Greggs is also a listed company whose shareholders are upset at not getting the dividends they were expecting.
Here is the former owner of prÃªt a manger Julian Metcalfe. Mr Metcalfe, who sold his remaining stake in the coffee chain last year but still owns the majority of high-street restaurant Itsu recently said: "society will not recover if we do it (lockdown) again to save a few thousand lives of very old or vulnerable people" (DAILY MAIL 29 October 2020).
The capitalists cry out: 'Look what the government is doing to our investment portfolios; look at the empty offices in the City which should be bringing in rental streams each month; what about my business; how are you going to protect my cash flow, look at the empty buses and trains in which I have sizeable investments'. Listen to the rage from the likes of Tim Martin of Weatherspoon's who has just posted a £105m loss.
Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Gove's wife, Sarah Vine, has made a career at the DAILY MAIL writing callous and spiteful articles. To an incredulous audience on Twitter, she recently offered her own life for the good of capitalism's survival. She said: "we all have to die sooner or later" and that she doesn't expect "the entire nation to bankrupt itself to save her sorry ass". (THE LONDON ECEONOMIC 3/4/20). She is happy with more risk, because she won't be the one taking it. Sarah Vine says she wants to die for capitalism. Let her. See if we care.
What arguments can Farage put forward? He has the experience of the Brexit and will have the backing of free market institutes who are also versed in the dark arts of political propaganda when it comes to denying the human impact of global warming.
When it comes to scientists not acting in the interest of the capitalist class, they are treated with the same contempt as anyone else who dares criticize the profit system. Falsehoods, ridicule, disinformation, fake news, muddying of the waters, are the tools of the trade of this vile anti-scientific propaganda. Sounds familiar? It is the same type of propaganda found in the climate denier's tool box.
Farage knows this (BBC NEWS 2 September 2020) so he supports the capitalist funded front organizationa of 'scientists' who have signed the controversial and scientifically rejected 'Great Barrington Declaration' calling for lockdowns to be abandoned. Many of the signatories did not even exist.
The petition was championed by THE SPECTATOR, run by the Barclay Brothers. SKY NEWS had to admit that many of the 'medical' signatories of the open letter were homeopaths, therapists or used obviously fake names such as 'Dr Johnny Banana', 'Dr Person Fakename' and 'Dr Johnny Fartpants' (GUARDIAN 19 October 2020).
The eight-paragraphs of 'The Great Barrington Declaration' cites no scientific data and does not seriously attempt to argue its case. It is, rather, a series of assertions constructed retroactively from the demand by US corporations to abandon public health measures to contain the pandemic. It was embraced in Britain as an attempt 'to open up the economy' and let the capitalist class make a profit again, not just Jeff Bezos (net worth US$185.6 billion). The Declaration was sponsored by the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), a 'libertarian' free market think tank. In 2019 it received a $68,100 donation from the Charles Koch Foundation who underwrites several other free market think tanks.
The signatories to the Barrington Declaration were touted in the media as giving objective scientific advice; its representatives were given open door access to the usual media outlets where they were uncritically received. They were not asked about those who would spend the winter months effectively locked away from society while the rest of the working class went about making profits for their employers. These 9 million people were irrelevant.
The free marketeers desperately tried to find scientists to say 'open up the economy' create 'herd immunity'. Both amounts to the same conclusion: 'my profits: Let the weak, the poor and the elderly die'.
A letter written in response, 'The John Snow Memorandum' (THE LANCET 14 October 2012), was signed by 4,800 scientists, researchers & healthcare professionals. You will not read this 'Memorandum', in THE SPECTAOTOR or the DAILY MAIL. The Memorandum said the concept entertained by the Great Barrington Declaration "is a dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence". WHO of the United Nations also dismissed the Barrington Declaration as having no scientific credibility
Whereas capitalists need workers to make their profits; workers do not need the capitalist class. We do all the work in society and could quite easily maintain and extend production to produce what people need. Get rid of the capitalists and their system. This is what workers should be actively thinking about during the second lock down. Production directly and solely for human need not profit.
'Save our profits.. In the Pandemic of 2020, that is all the capitalists and their politicians care about. The cash nexus rules OK? Profit rules OK?
If it is not OK, then you should seriously think about becoming a socialist. You should join with other like-minded socialists politically and democratically to replace the profit system with the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society.
Socialism Versus Fascism
The Socialist Party of Great Britain confronted fascism directly during the 1930s in its debate with Mosley's black shirts. The debate took place at Mawney Road Schools, Romford, on March 23rd, 1935 between E. Hardy, representing the SPGB, and Mr. Probyn, representing the British Union of Fascists.
The debate can be read in the SOCIALIST STANDARD,(April/May1935) or on-line at https://www.marxist.org/archive/hardcastle/.
The importance of the debate lies in how the speaker for the SPGB was able to show that the British Union of Fascists was just another capitalist political party which the working class should not support. The BUF case for fascism was destroyed in open debate by fact and argument not violence and the pursuit of 'no-platforming'.
The question of fascism was dealt with in some depth later in our pamphlet, Questions of the Day published in 1942. A considered opinion can be found in Chapter XIV 'Fascism and Democracy' (pp 80-87).
Unlike Professor Stanley, socialists do not see the concentration camp as a defining moment in fascism. Instead, the pamphlet looked at the differences between fascism and democracy as it is applied to political administrations.
Under fascism, the traditional forms of working class political and economic organisations are denied the right of legal existence. A party similar to the SPGB could not be formed in Mussolini's Italy or in Hitler's Germany.
Under fascism freedom of speech, the written word or assembly to debate and propagate political ideas is prevented from occurring. Also, the media is severely curtailed being made to conform to the needs of a single political party.
What about democracy? Or more specifically political democracy because real democracy can only exist in socialism where the means of production and distribution are owned in common and under democratic control by all of society. Under political democracy, the workers are allowed to form their own political and economic organisations. Under political democracy and within limits, there is freedom of speech, of assembly and the use of independent broadcast media is permitted. Under political democracy workers can choose between contending political parties.
However, the Socialist Party of Great Britain puts democracy into some perspective. The SPGB has always insisted on the democratic nature of socialism. We place great value on the widest possible discussion of conflicting political views has for the working class. We reject 'no-platforming' and question the actions of people who to tell others what they can or cannot say. Likewise, we reject 'democratic coalitions' with non-socialist organisations for the purpose of defending democracy. As far as we are concerned democracy cannot be defended in this way.
Socialists also reject the 'lesser evil' argument: that it is better to side with democratic enemies of the working class than fascist ones. Look at contemporary US politics. In the US, some of the Left see Trump as the embodiment of fascist values with his contempt towards immigrants, his racism and his flirting with fascist rhetoric like Charles Lindbergh's: 'America First'.
The working class are told to support alternative political candidates to Trump even if their policies would lead to war, would do nothing for working class interests, attack workers standard of living whilst pursuing the class interest of the rich and powerful. Why should socialists surrender our principles and our socialist object for the anti-working class political programmes of our opponents?
Socialists have a unique take on political democracy. We state: 'Democracy in itself, cannot solve the problems of the working class' (Ibid p81). Whether a political administration is 'democratic' or 'fascist' the problems facing the working class - unemployment, poverty, insecurity and so on - remain. Freedom to denounce unemployment and poverty does not abolish unemployment and poverty.
In our 1942 pamphlet when considering Hitler's rise to power we remarked:
'Democracy is a weapon, potentially invaluable, it is true; but like every other weapon, it can be used for self-preservation or for self-destruction. And the painful fact is that in Germany the working class chose not to use the democratic weapon in its own interest but chose to commit political suicide with it instead'. (Ibid p. 82).
What opponents of fascism cannot explain is why fascism or a political atmosphere which favours fascist politics appears at particular points in capitalism's history. Opponents of fascism, unlike socialists, do not work within a materialist conception of history and the political concept of class struggle. Our opponents cannot give an account of fascism in terms of the failure of capitalism to meet the needs of the working class or as a temporary means to solve problems facing the capitalist class or a section of the capitalist class at certain times in its history.
As long as the working class gives its support to capitalism and capitalist policies, it will be tempted by the politics of racism and anti-immigration and to believe their interests are best served by voting for fascist parties as in the 1920s and 1930s or the right wing populist parties of today.
As we concluded:
"Democracy for the working class can only be consolidated and extended to the extent that the working class adopts a socialist standpoint. To renounce socialism so that democracy may be defended, means ultimately the renunciation of both socialism and democracy" (Ibid.p. 83).
Fascism and democracy in a historical context of class, class interest and class struggle highlights the inadequacy of liberal accounts of fascism found in Professor Stanley's book. Fascism and fascist politics derive from the material conditions of capitalism, its inadequacy in meeting human needs, its competitiveness, conflict and war.
So what can we do? We need to use democracy to free ourselves from capitalism. Socialism will be a world without artificial boundaries, borders guards and refugees from capitalism's war.
However, democracy is not enough. We need socialists and socialist parties. The struggle against racist and xenophobic views should not be separated from the struggle for socialism - a world without frontiers, border guards and barbed wire. All we can do is tell workers not to support capitalist parties but instead to think and act in their own class interests. It currently appears easier for capitalist politicians to divide our class rather than face the compelling argument of a socialist agenda and peaceful revolutionary change. Nevertheless, the case for socialism is well within the grasp of all reasonable workers to understand, accept and to act upon. As the American philosopher, George Santander remarked: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".
Pandemics and Economic Crises
During the recent global pandemic, the government was forced to close-down substantial areas of the economy to prevent a woefully under-resourced health service from collapsing. This action precipitated bankruptcies and high levels of unemployment. We were told that this was not an ordinary economic crisis but a crisis 'exogenous' to capitalism.
Recall, though, what was happening to the economy prior to the pandemic? Capitalism was teetering on the edge of an economic crisis prior to the Covid-19 outbreak. Here is one media report at the beginning of 2019. Under the banner headline 'Pessimists are predicting a global crash in 2020. You can see why', the GUARDIAN's economics editor Philip Inman wrote:
"The International Monetary Fund leads a group of gloomy forecasters that worry about the stability of the global economy amid rising debt levels and slowing GDP growth. How long, they ask, can the expansion seen since the last crash go on before another recession hits? And if a global recession is pushed further into the future by even larger dollops of borrowed money from the financial system, will the next recession quickly become a crash of similar or even larger proportions than the one seen in 2008?" (5 January 2019).
Of course, the GUARDIAN could explain why capitalism was on the verge of an economic crisis. They reject Marx's explanation of an economic crisis being caused by the anarchy of commodity production and exchange for profit.
Reformers believe capitalism can be changed for the better, that the 'problems' caused by the profit system can be resolved by economic policies. Yet, neither the Keynesianism favoured by the GUARDIAN, Monetarism policies favoured by previous Thatcher and Major governments or the laissez faire economic liberalism favoured by all governments since, have managed to prevent economic crises and trade depressions.
At the time, thousands of so-called 'zombie companies' were only being kept alive by low interest rates and cheap borrowing. These companies were no longer profitable. It would not take much to push them over the cliff. They could not sell sufficient commodities, make a profit and re-invest capital to make more profit. They could only exist because of a credit life-line to the banks through extra credit or the rescheduling of their debts.
Take, as an example, Sir Philip Green's Arcadia. The clothing retail group found that it could no longer finance the debt of the company when talks with potential lenders for a £30m loan failed.
Arcadia blamed the pandemic but the company had long been uncompetitive and unable to meet the challenge of on-line only retailers such as Asos, Boohoo and Pretty Little Thing. These companies sold more commodities at a cheaper price than Arcadia.
As Marx noted, with companies desperately in search of money:
"We see then, commodities are in love with money, but the course of true love never did run smooth" (CAPITAL: VOL. I, Ch. 3, Section 2, page 121).
The collapse of Arcadia in December 2020 put 13,000 jobs at risk but no risk to Sir Philip Green's wealth held in his wifeâ€™s name in the tax haven of Monaco.
The last thing on his mind will be to sort out the pension scheme of 13,000 former employees. Labour's shadow business secretary, Ed Miliband, believes that Green owes a 'moral duty' to his former
He went on to say: "The worker's at Arcadia should not pay the price of Philip Green's greed" When has capitalism had anything to do with morality? Under capitalism "greed is good". Capitalism is a highly competitive dog-eat-dog social system, in which profit is the only consideration.
According to the TIMES RICH LIST, Phillip Green has wealth of some £1.05bn. Most of his assets are owned by his wife. He can spend millions on his yacht, forget his troubles and relax with a long cool drink as he disappears, with his life-style intact, into the sunset.
Sir Phillip Green is supposed to be the 'unacceptable face of capitalism' well, there is no acceptable face of capitalism. All capitalists exploit the working class. Workers are paid less in the value of their wages than the total amount of social wealth they create. Under pain of competition all capitalists have to extract, what Marx called 'surplus value' from the working class. All capitalists live off the unearned income of rent, interest and profit. And they can live a life of luxury because they own the means of production and distribution to the exclusion of the rest of society.
To get rid of capitalism requires the political and democratic action of the majority working class having recognised, been persuaded and fully understood that socialism is the only answer to the economic and social problems they face as a class. Until then, the Greens of the world will continue to ride roughshod over their lives.
The Shadow State and Capitalism: A New Cold War
Luke Harding's book SHADOW STATE: MURDER, MAYHEM AND RUSSIA'S REMAKING OF THE WEST was published just as the West accused Russia of trying to steal information from pharmaceutical companies developing a Covid-19 vaccine in a series of cyber attacks. The timely accusation by Western politicians gave substance to Harding's central claim that Russia reaches out to corrupt, undermine and destroy Western capitalist institutions.
Harding, the GUARDIAN's foreign correspondent, was recently interviewed on James O'Brian's LBC show, where he has been reporting on Putin's Russia for several years.
He said that the Kremlin's constant attempt to subvert Western capitalism and its institutions came out in the Mueller inquiry, Western intelligence reports and his own meticulous journalism. Russia, he said, even supports fascist and nationalist groups in the West in the same way as the USSR used to support political parties and groups on the capitalist left. Russia, too, has its aggressive nationalism and cult of the leader. Putin is a ruthless, dominant in Russia and a powerful force in world politics.
Harding's book claims to show how many of the political problems currently facing the capitalist West flow from Putin's Russia. The book gives a detailed and comprehensive account of geo-political rivalry. Russian capitalism sets out to destabilise the West for its imposition of sanctions, expansion of NATO, its support of Ukraine, and a host of other interests damaging to Russian capitalism and Putin in particular, like the release of the Panama Papers showing the size of his plundered wealth. Putin is faced with mounting political opposition by the like of the dissident Alexei Anatolievich Navalny and the embarrassment of images of Putin's luxurious palace on the Black sea Coast.
Harding takes us through the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury, the hack of the Democratic National Committee servers in 2016 and the strange relationship between Trump and Russia. Harding says that Russia operates a 'shadow state' of intelligence operatives against Western capitalism. All cloak and dagger stuff culled from the pages of a John le Carré novel.
However, Russia has not been successful in everything it has managed to do. It was rumbled on a number of occasions. In 2018, four Russian agents were caught trying to break into the international chemical weapons watchdog's headquarters in The Hague.
As Harding notes:
'An agency known for its ruthlessness and professionalism during the cold war now gave way to the impression that it was incompetent'.
Not that the Western intelligence agencies fared any better. None, including the billion dollars funded CIA, predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union. Neither, for what it is worth, did the KGB; then the employer of one Vladimir Putin. For all its power and resources, the Stasi was unable to prevent the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The sordid machinations of capitalism are all par for the course in a world split into warring, violent and competitive nation states. The media refers to an 'International community'. It is anything but a benign 'community'. Each country pursues its own interests even if it means war.
Even the so-called 'special relationship' between the US and Britain is nothing more than the relationship a man and his dog. Look no further than when Trump ordered the UK to drop the Chinese technology giant Huawei (OBSERVER 20/7/20). 'Jump' says Trump. 'How High?' responds Johnson.
Now Biden tells Johnson to jump higher for the free trade deal Johnson is so desperate to secure. Cyber attacks, spying and espionage, ensnarement and blackmail, buying politicians and journalists all form part of the dark arts of the intelligence services. Harding claims Putin engineered Trump's presidential victory in 2016, the Brexit election the same year, the rise of nationalist and popularist parties in Europe and so on all in order to bring down 'liberal capitalism', humiliate the egregious Hilary Clinton, and end the politics blocking Russian expansion.
This conspiracy theory has been echoed by OBSERVER writers like Nick Cohen to account for the hollowing out of liberal politics. On Saturday 11th July, Majid Nawez, on LBC, spent an hour defending the conspiracy theory that 'all our problems' derive from Putin's Russia. And there are periodic editorials in the OBSERVER against Russia and its menacing President attempting to undermine Britain capitalism's 'democracy, politics and security'. (19/7/20)
While there is some truth in Russia's reach into Western European politics, like the 2014 funding of Le Pen's National Front, and more recently its meddling in US and British elections, the all-powerful Putin at the centre of a Moscow spider's web smacks of a conspiracy theory of almost biblical proportions. Such a conspiracy theory lets the political failure of Western capitalism off the hook.
Capitalist countries are in constant competition with each other. They all use dirty tricks. Look at the Cold War where Russia and the US used proxy governments to wage hot wars, engineer coups and impose violent dictatorships. And are we supposed to believe that the capitalist West is not interfering in Chinese politics in Hong Kong or in Russian politics in places such as Georgia and the Crimea? .
And it is not new. In the Nineteenth century, British and Russia Imperialism took part in The Great Game. The Great Game was a political and diplomatic confrontation that existed for most of the 19th century between the United Kingdom and Russia over Afghanistan and neighbouring territories in Central and South Asia.
Britain was fearful of Russia invading India to add to the vast empire that Russia was building in Asia while Russia did not want British capitalism to expand commercially and militarily towards its borders. This Great Game was highlighted in the fictional book KIM by Rudyard Kipling, set shortly after the Second Afghan War. The story unfolds against the political conflict between Russia and Britain in Central Asia. It was a very ugly and brutal politics.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Western capitalism was triumphant. They had won and the USSR had lost. The rise of Globalisation was going to lead to a Utopian capitalism of untold wealth, wealth trickling down to the poor; a world patrolled by supra-nationalists institutions underpinned by the United States. A New world order, it was called.
Then came 9/11 and the 'war on terror' followed by one of the worse economic crises in capitalism's history. The 1% became increasingly wealthy and the poor died in their millions. If you were one of the unemployed, living in poor housing in run-down areas with little prospect of increasing your standard of living, would you need Russian intelligence to tell you to vote Brexit from a fake news web site when you have demagogues from Ukip and the Tory Party blaming immigrants and a 'liberal elite' in London for all your problems? The capitalist class has been using divide and rule as a tactic to split the workers for centuries. It does not need Russian help.
Today, the 'progressives' in the remain camp, who thought their politics reflected the 'moderate majority', remain powerless and marginalised as a national, native and aggressive populism has taken hold. And they want someone to blame. And Harding's book feeds into this blame culture. Russia becomes this all-powerful political puppeteer controlling Western politics. This is a convenient excuse to justify their failed politics. Trump win an election? Why did Brexit occur? Why did nationalist movements win power in Europe? Is not the real reason the failure of capitalism to meet the needs of the working class? Under capitalism poor housing, degrading jobs in the gig economy, ill health and poor education is the fate of millions of workers.
. Does not the rise of an alternative capitalist politics, based on populist leaders and nationalism, tap into the desperation of millions of powerless non-socialist workers who then become prey to simplistic political ideas and beliefs around immigration? Surely the scapegoating and blaming of migrants is a politically more powerful recruiting sergeant to gain non-socialist working class support for Brexit than anything that could be concocted in Moscow. .
Socialists have no interests in the global disputes of nation states. We do not take sides. We leave grand conspiracies to the powerless. Workers have no country, they have nothing to defend or fight for.
But they have the potential strength and resolve to replace capitalism with socialism. The problems facing the working class can only be solved by themselves, democratically and politically, through their own effort as socialists. The intrigue of international capitalist politics is of no interest to the working class but the establishment of the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of all society in our interests. We have a world to win.
Shadow State is a get out of jail free card for a failed politics of globalisation which promised a capitalist utopia. It just could not deliver. But neither could Trump, neither will Biden, post-Brexit Johnson or the populist politicians in Europe. Capitalism is not kind to politicians and governments. In the end it destroys both.
'Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining'
The Government will save over £600m in state pension payments this year following a steep rise in excess deaths among the elderly, according to the budget watchdog. The expected number of excess pensioner deaths has shot up by almost 45%, to 90,000 this year, because of the latest sure in the number of coronavirus cases.
(DAILY TELEGRAPH, 25th November 2020)
Freedom From Whom?
Since the 1970s there has been a proliferation of free market institutes paid for by the likes of the billionaire Koch brothers. In 1973, businessman Joseph Coors contributed $250,000 to establish The Heritage Foundation. In the US, free market think tanks have spread like the plague. The Free Market Institute started at Texas Tech in 2013, is backed by more than $11 million in funding from entities and individuals in the Koch network. Free market think tanks are generally set up as private, tax-exempt, research and advocacy institutes, and are largely funded by foundations and corporations.
And these free market institutes are economically powerful. The Heritage Foundation has a budget of over $25 million per year of which almost 90% comes from more than 6000 private donors. These donors include corporations such as automobile manufacturers, coal, oil, chemical, and tobacco companies.
In Australia the most powerful free market institute is the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). Almost one third of IPA's $1.5 million annual budget comes from mining and manufacturing companies. The IPA produces articles challenging the global warming scientific consensus.
In the United State many of the free market institutes, like the Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute, also cast doubt on the science of climate change, undermining scientific research or denying the environmental problem exists at all. They care little for science and scientific investigation.
These institutes boast 'scholars' and 'fellows' to give themselves an air of academic respectability but their function is to defend capitalism against its critics or against those they perceive as a threat to the market and the interest of capitalists.
In desperation at having large sectors of the capitalist economy shut down, some capitalists have funded a front organisation of 'scientists' who then signed the Great Barrington Declaration calling for lockdowns to be abandoned. Many of the signatories did not even exist.
The petition was championed by The spectator, proprietor, the Barclay Brothers. SKY NEWS had to admit that many of the 'medical' signatories of the open letter were homeopaths, therapists or used obviously fake names such as 'Dr Johnny Banana' , 'Dr Person Fakename' and 'Dr Johnny Fartpants' (GUARDIAN 19 October 2020).
The eight-paragraphs of The Great Barrington Declaration cited no scientific data and did not seriously attempt to argue its case. It is, rather, a series of assertions constructed retroactively from the demand by US corporations to abandon public health measures to contain the pandemic.
It was embraced in Britain as an attempt 'to open up the economy' and let the capitalist class make a profit again - not just Jeff Bezos (net worth US$185.6 billion).
The Declaration was sponsored by the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), a 'libertarian' free market think tank. In 2019 it received a $68,100 donation from the Charles Koch Foundation which underwrites several other free market think tanks.
In intellectual falsehood and ignorance, the ideas and beliefs of the free market institutes are similar to the Christian Evangelicals who deny Darwinism and the Holocaust deniers who deny that the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis in World War Two ever took place. However, unlike the Christian Evangelicals and fascists, the free market institutes are primarily driven by considerations of profit and commercial interest. As the sociologist Keith Khan-Harris wrote:
'Global warming denialism have not managed to overturn the general scientific consensus that global warming is caused by human activity. But what they have managed to do is provide support for those opposed to taking radical action to address this urgent problem'.
(DENIAL: THE UNSPEKABLE TRUTH 2018 p 4-5).
In the UK, free market institutes have been used by 'Brexiteers' as propaganda platforms to provide arguments to leave the European Union or to establish 'free ports' along the lines of Singapore. The Singapore Freeport is a high-security storage and display facility with a majority stake held by Natural Le Coultre S.A. of art dealer and shipper Yves Bouvier. The facility opened in May 2010 in a duty-free zone near Singapore's Changi Airport and is modelled after similar institutions in Geneva and Luxembourg. In 2016 Rishi Sunak wrote a report The free Ports Opportunity for the free market Centre for Policy Studies.
Four years later the Johnson government is allowing towns and cities to tender for free ports in the UK on the grounds that the tax relief they will enjoy will help drive jobs, growth and innovation by having simplified customs procedures and duty suspensions on goods.
Clients to free market institutes are usually commercial outlets like the tobacco industry where smoking cigarettes association with cancer is well known. More than 100 free market think tanks from North America to Europe and south Asia took positions helpful to the tobacco industry or accepted donations in their struggle against government regulations (GUARDIAN 23 January 2019).
The most notable free market institutes in Britain are the Adam Smith Institute founded in the 1970s and the Institute of Economic Affairs founded in 1955. Lesser known is the 'Tax Payer's Alliance', the 'Legatum Institute' and the Tory controlled 'Centre for Policy Studies'.
They pretend they are value-free academic outfits with 'research fellows', but they are just propaganda machines defending private property The IEA spent decades undermining climate science. (GUARDIAN 10 October 2019).
In their efforts to influence and become part of the policy-making process, free market institutes have more in common with pressure groups than with university researchers giving objective information free from bias and commercial influence. Nevertheless, employees of free market think tanks are given free access to state their biased position across the media, often without the listener knowing who they are or what commercial interest they are representing. They are giving greater weight in their opinion than any other ordinary member of the public.
And they are highly incestuous; the same names appear again and again across these institutes and they are used as convenient spring boards for political careers and progress up the greasy political pole from researcher, MP to Cabinet Minister. The Westminster address, 55 Tufton Street, is home to numerous think tanks and lobbying outfits. Among them until 2015, the pro-Brexit groups, Business for Britain, and the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which denies the overwhelming scientific consensus about human activity primarily being the cause of climate change? The IEA boasts links to several members of Boris Johnson's cabinet (GUARDIAN 10 October 2016).
In the US it is known who funds the free market institutes. These institutes are capitalism's paid street walkers. The same is not true in the UK. Who funds them? Who funds think tanks such as the Institute of Economic Affairs? It is dark money. Their charitable status means they donâ€™t have to declare their individual funding sources. It is one of life's mysteries that defending capitalism has a charitable status!
What difference would having a system of society make, to one's life, if it was based on 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?
A society with no employment or unemployment, no banks or money system, no paying, buying or selling or trade wars, no longer any commodity production - the needs of the community being the criterion for production.
The response to needs would be to produce for those needs without, as in present class society, the necessity of capitalists getting a profit as it would no longer be a class driven system of society.
The present class society with private or state ownership would be outdated, no longer necessary or suitable for meeting the needs of the whole community.
The communal society with its production and distribution meeting needs will result in there being no rich or poor, no haves or have nots, no destruction of food because profit cannot be made for its owners from the poor, the starving and those living in poverty, as is the case today.
A society with equal access to the means of production and distribution by all in a world community.
A majority of the community understanding the outcome of this organisation of society, a majority who desired and organised its establishment using production and distribution to meet its needs and able to deal efficiently with any unforeseen needs that may arise in the future.
Capitalism has shown that production can create abundance but this is restricted, at present, by the requirement that those of the capitalist class in each nation state must make profits. An antiquated way to run a civilised society.
So, what would you prefer? What organisation of human society are you prepared to support and work for? One that fulfils community needs or one that produces profit for the few? Only you can answer this question, which class interest are you going to support, the exploited working class, producers of all wealth or the exploiting owning class, the capitalist class?
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
THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN HOLDS:
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.