Socialist Party books and pamphlets

The Case for Socialism (2009)

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A global crisis, and the particular crisis in Britain

Huddersfield Youth Fight for Jobs march, photo Huddersfield YFFJ

Huddersfield Youth Fight for Jobs march, photo Huddersfield YFFJ   (Click to enlarge)

This is a truly global crisis. Virtually no country has escaped its effects. Globally it is the poorest people in the poorest countries who are suffering the most. However, the OECD correctly predicted that Britain would suffer worst of the G7 countries (the seven biggest economies).

No wonder. Since the time of Margaret Thatcher, capitalism in Britain has consciously moved away from manufacturing, not least out of fear of the potential strength of the industrial working class.

Instead it has concentrated on finance and the City. Britain has become more like a giant unregulated hedge fund than any economically advanced country in the world - with the exception of Iceland!

For a while finance gave British capitalism mega-profits. Finance alone made up 9.4% of the economy between 2003 and 2006 and yet was responsible for 30% of overall growth of GDP.

The financial bubble on the stock markets was combined with huge housing and personal debt bubbles. A year after the bubbles burst the debt overhang of Britain's consumers was estimated at 1.5 trillion.

The debt that has been built up is hanging like a millstone around the neck of the British economy, and around all our necks, prolonging and deepening the recession.

The recession has rapidly and brutally stripped away the surface gloss to reveal the rotten underpinnings of the British economy.

New Labour has allowed the basic infrastructure of Britain to be sold off to foreign companies in a way that no other capitalist power would allow.

The ports, airport authorities, large parts of the electricity, gas and water companies, and nuclear power stations, all have been sold off to the highest bidder.

Youth Fight For Jobs march 2 April 2009, photo Paul Mattsson

Youth Fight For Jobs march 2 April 2009, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Although the economy is integrated on a global scale to an unprecedented extent, the nation state is still the fundamental building block of capitalism and most companies still have a 'national base' to which they will tend to retreat in times of crisis, leaving Britain vulnerable.

At the same time, manufacturing, which remains central to the underlying strength of an economy, is a poor third-class relation in Britain.

The economies of all the advanced capitalist countries are being 'hollowed out', but Britain is leading the way.

The number of workers employed in manufacturing has fallen by a quarter since New Labour came to power.

Before the recession began just over three million workers were employed in manufacturing, the lowest level since 1841.

Since then up to 200,000 manufacturing workers have lost their jobs. Nonetheless, as the struggles of 2009 demonstrate, the specific weight of the industrial working class means that, despite relatively small numbers, it has enormous potential power.

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