Capitalism in Crisis
Capitalism in Crisis
A cold winter
Nor will workers' demands limit themselves to the finance sector. Rising prices mean that millions of people will struggle to find the money to heat their homes this winter.
Meanwhile, BP made record profits, £6.4 billion from July to September this year, up 148% from a year earlier.
Yet New Labour has refused to even implement a windfall tax on the energy and oil companies, never mind nationalise them.
We demand that they are immediately renationalised, alongside transport and other privatised services, under workers' control and management.
Similar demands will also be raised in manufacturing plants that are threatened with cutbacks or closures.
Recently, JCB workers voted to accept a £50 a week pay cut rather than see jobs go. Disgracefully, the only option on the union ballot paper was to lose pay or see 500 redundancies. This will not be the last time this issue comes up. But why should workers have to choose between "death by hanging or the firing squad", as one JCB worker put it?
As a starting point the unions should demand that JCB and other companies making cuts open their books to the workforce for scrutiny.
Where have all the profits gone for the last ten years or more? The unions should also demand that, instead of cutting jobs, hours and pay, the work should be shared out without loss of pay for any worker.
If these companies argue that 'normal' production is impossible in the current economic crisis then an alternative plan of production could be drawn up in these threatened plants.
In car plants, for example, this could be linked to developing improved, and more environmentally-friendly, means of public transport.
Where the capitalists refuse to provide the necessary investment to keep the plants open we should demand that the government steps up and nationalises them, with compensation only on the basis of proven need, and places them under workers' control and management.
Unfortunately, the majority of the trade union leaders have accepted the 'realities of the market' over the last decade and are entering this new period completely unprepared for the determined struggles that will be necessary to defend workers from the onslaught we will face in the coming recession.
It will be down to rank and file trade unionists to develop a fighting strategy to defend jobs.
Big business consistently tries to play off workers in one country against workers in another. But we have more in common with each other, regardless of nationality, than we do big business. The capitalists are attempting to come together on an international basis to defend their system. The working class must do the same to defend our interests.
In the Socialist Party we link the immediate demands such as those listed above to the need for a socialist transformation of society.
While we would welcome the nationalisation of individual companies they would still operate within the framework of capitalism.
As long as this profit-hungry capitalist system exists, we will always face a constant struggle to defend our living conditions.
Under mass pressure the capitalist class can be forced to grant significant concessions to the working class, but it will always attempt to recoup them when it gets the chance.
That is one reason why we argue for the nationalisation of the major corporations that dominate the economy- around 150 - with compensation paid on the basis of proven need only, and under workers' control and management - as a basis for developing a democratic, socialist plan of production.
A socialist plan of production is also the only means by which it will be possible to save and restore our environment.
Capitalism is incapable of putting the long-term interests of the planet, and therefore humanity, before its own immediate profits.
Of course, a genuine socialist government would not be interested in nationalising every corner shop.
In fact, because a socialist government would nationalise the banks it would be possible for small businesses to receive cheap credit which they are currently denied.
Nor would it, as opponents of socialism claim, stand for the taking away of personal 'private property' including houses, cars and so on.
But how many people under capitalism are without a secure home? A socialist government would make providing the necessities of life for everyone, including a decent home, its top priority.
The political representatives of capitalism are on the defensive. Socialist ideas are resurging. With their backs to the wall the spokespeople of capitalism are reduced to trying to frighten workers by raising the spectre of the former Soviet Union.
The Socialist Party completely opposed Stalinism, which was based on a one-party dictatorial regime.
Nonetheless, we defended the planned economy. Despite the bureaucratic top-down way in which the planned economy was run in the Stalinist countries, the re-introduction of capitalism led to an appalling fall in the living standards of the working class.
In the former Soviet Union, for example, average male life expectancy fell by a decade. A genuine socialist government would extend and deepen democracy enormously. This would be much more far-reaching than the current situation, where the major companies that dominate all our lives are owned by a tiny, unaccountable handful of people, and we only get to vote every few years for MPs who do whatever they like once elected.
Instead, at every level, in the workplace, locally and nationally, elected representatives would be accountable and subject to instant recall and would also only receive a worker's wage, unlike today's privileged MPs.
At the same time it would create genuine 'freedom of the press'. Is it democratic for the press in this country to be controlled by a tiny number of billionaires? We propose the nationalisation of all printing press facilities, TV and radio under democratic workers' control and management.
All political parties and trends would then be granted access to the press in proportion to their support in the population as shown in elections.
In other words a socialist government would give far greater press freedom to New Labour and the Tories than socialists and the trade unions currently receive.