The Socialist 10 January 2008 |
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Make Socialism Our Future: ISR / CWI banner on the Anti-G8 demonstration in 2005, photo Paul Mattsson
Last year ended to the roar of the assassin's bullet and bomb, cutting down Benazir Bhutto, the fourth such civilian leader or president to be murdered since the foundation of Pakistan 60 years ago. Kenya is scarred by riots in protest at another 'stolen' election.
Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party general secretary
2007 witnessed one million US families evicted from their homes, 'the unfortunate victims' of the US subprime housing mortgages disaster. Homeless people also froze to death on the streets of Paris just days before Christmas.
Yet "Gulfstream jets were taking off from Luton and Farnborough [airports] last week, crews poised to pamper elite passengers with champagne, as the super-rich decamped to millionaires' playgrounds where the biggest worry is whether you get too much sun while out on a jet-ski" (The Observer, 30.12.07).
But pity the rich who have their own 'problems' to wrestle with. Such is their financial pinch that we are informed that the City 'masters of the universe' have been denied the usual "dog-sledding trips to Austria," though million pound end-of-year bonuses were still doled out to the City highflyers.
The year also saw the 'saffron' revolutionary upheavals in Burma, which have temporarily run into the sand because there was no mass workers' organisation and leadership with the policies capable of overthrowing the junta.
In Iraq, on the other hand, the slaughter continues, despite the claims of 'Emperor' Bush and his military pro-consul Petraeus that their 'surge' has been successful. $600 billion have already been wasted in the sands of Iraq and the final bill is likely to be well in excess of $1 trillion.
In Britain, the wheels have come off the Gordon Brown bandwagon and the same applies to his much-vaunted 'economic miracle', as the economic storm clouds gather on the international and domestic horizon.
But does 2008 promise an improvement on the past year to the world's poor and to the working-class people of Britain? The gloomy prognostications of the soothsayers of the capitalist system make Cassandra appear optimistic.
The world economy, weighed down by the leaden boots of the US housing subprime crisis, is 'heading for the rocks' while significant sections such as the US itself have already arrived there.
The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and all the economic witchdoctors of capitalism scramble to find some sense in the chaos and contradictions caused by their system. They would gloomily settle for a slowdown in growth this year but they may get a recession.
In the last two decades, with no real mass opposition - given the betrayal of the leaders of the ex-workers' parties and trade unions - capitalism has faced no serious challenge.
This was a period in which it would show its superiority in lifting humankind out of poverty, unemployment and environmental damage! Yet its stewardship has been shown to be a complete failure. It will not, however, vacate the scene of history without help from the working class and poor, who are the majority on this planet.
Socialism, which appeared to have been 'buried' or, at best, relegated to the margins, is once more becoming attractive for a layer of young people and workers, given the failure of the capitalist system. Democratic and socialist planning of the resources of society in place of capitalist barbarism will advance as an idea in the next year.
Peter Taaffe looks ahead to 2008 in more detail.