Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/748/15986

From The Socialist newspaper, 16 January 2013

Review

Capitalism - Forever blowing bubbles

Peter Taaffe reviews the "Bubbles and bankruptcy: Financial crises in Britain since 1700", free exhibition at the British Museum, Room 69a, until 5 May.

The connection between the British Museum and the ideas of scientific socialism as formulated by Karl Marx lies in his use of the British Library's considerable facilities - which used to be on the same site as the museum itself - to write such epochal works as Capital. The British Library has been at its new, separate site since 1998.

This small but interesting exhibition indicates, in a sense, a return of Marx's ideas, in his analysis of the workings of capitalism to the place where they were first formulated. This of course is not the intention of the exhibition organisers. But it cannot be entirely accidental that squeezed between exhibits showing the influence of Greece on Rome - and the achievements of the Etruscans - this exhibition is put on at this time.

It indicates a renewed interest in discovering the historical roots of the present financial crisis. It is clearly connected to the present devastating crisis of world capitalism. Moreover, it shows clearly that there is nothing new in the present situation.

The world has seen it all before but not on the scale that we witness today. The tulip mania in the Netherlands of 1637 - described as "the first speculative boom" - ended in tears and anticipated what has been repeated many times since.

This was followed by another 'disaster' in 1697 involving land in Panama which left "Scotland financially ruined". Marx drew on such experiences to explain the credit system which firstly expands capitalism beyond its 'limits' but which then generates financial bubbles accompanied by "the pleasant company of swindlers": reckless financial gamblers.

This was followed by the famous "South Sea Bubble" also described as the first major speculative boom. This in turn generated popular satires - beautifully illustrated here - such as "The Bubble Melody" and the "South Sea Ballad". The 19th century also saw the 'railway mania' with massive debts piled up, which resulted in an economic crash.

Convict of the Exchequer

Even a Chancellor of the Exchequer, John Aislabie - the equivalent of George Osborne today - was involved in speculation and ended up in prison. There is a tremendous cartoon showing the Bank of England - "the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street" - lecturing naughty boys, obviously meant to represent the capitalists and the bankers, who behind their backs hold playing cards.

Little has changed today it seems; the governor of the Bank of England, with Ed Miliband in the supporting cast, admonishes the banks and the capitalists for not behaving more 'responsibly'. In vain!

The exhibition closes with badges, symbols and photographs of the 'Occupy' movement in London. While providing no answers, this exhibition nevertheless is very useful as well as entertaining in a sometimes vivid form. It also shows that capitalism and speculation go together like peaches and cream. It should teach those who visit it that we need a more rational system than archaic capitalism.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 16 January 2013:


Fighting the cuts

Mass action to save our NHS

PCS fighting the austerity agenda - 'Action gets results'

Teachers: fight for strike action is on

Beware: latest pensions changes

Sussex County hospital cleaning and catering: The brutal reality of privatisation

Brixton Hill: Opposing Labour's 'cuts cooperative'

Two TUSC candidates standing against cuts on the Wirral


Socialist Party news and analysis

We need an alternative to blind-alley capitalism... socialism!

Northern Ireland: Flag issue turmoil illustrates failure of the 'peace process'

Prison closures = more privatisation

Them & Us

News In brief


Socialist Party feature

Renationalise the railways now!


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Tory minister lies about 'lategate'...

Sheffield fight back, or we'll have nothing left!

Swindon: 1,100 Honda job losses

Indian embassy protest: raging against rape


Reviews and readers' comments

Capitalism - Forever blowing bubbles

Review of the film 'McCullin'

A day in the life... Young, low-paid, bullied and angry

Reject the wedge between generations


 

Home   |   The Socialist 16 January 2013   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  




Related links:

Capitalism:

triangleConference on state spies and sabotage: who's watching who?

triangleCan you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

triangleOctober 1917 reviews: 'More bright than any heaven'

triangleRussia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangleTories torn - bin them now

Marx:

triangleCentral London: Walk along the steps of Karl Marx

triangleMarx's Capital at 150: an unequalled analysis and critique of capitalism

triangleBristol South Socialist Party: 150 years of Marx's Das Capital

triangleCapitalist journal's warning to the bosses: Marx was right, watch out!

Britain:

triangleObesity epidemic: end food market anarchy

triangleThe end of the Tories?

triangleNasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

Bankers:

triangleDefuse the consumer debt time bomb: nationalise the banks!

triangleBarclays finally charged for having hands in till

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

18/10/17

Port Talbot

Powerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

18/10/17

Russian revolution

October 1917 reviews: 'More bright than any heaven'

11/10/17

Theresa May

Theresa May, Frida Kahlo and turning women into wares

11/10/17

Docks

Poverty, repression and fightback on the docks

11/10/17

The Socialist

The Socialist Inbox

11/10/17

TV

Shocking insight into Isis

2/10/17

Sexism

Hugh Hefner's exploitation of women

27/9/17

Football

Women's football - Sampson allegations

20/9/17

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

20/9/17

Socialist

Interview: the "socialist John Le Carré"

20/9/17

Women

Refreshing, anticapitalist - but little pointing a way forward

13/9/17

Women

New documentary asks women how their bodies are sexualised and policed

13/9/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

13/9/17

Che Guevara

Intimate insight into a revolutionary icon

6/9/17

Pensions

Bosses' pensions robbery

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangle11 Oct CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangle11 Oct The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against...

triangle11 Oct Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

triangle6 Oct Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

triangle4 Oct The nasty party turns on itself... but the Tories must be driven out

More ...

triangle19 Oct Waltham Forest Young Socialists: Deaths in police custody

triangle19 Oct Swansea Socialist Party: Spanish revolution 1936-37

triangle19 Oct Cardiff East Socialist Party: Is equality for women possible under capitalism?

triangle19 Oct Wirral Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian Revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2