Economic crisis

Economic boom is an illusion:

What’s happening to the ‘economic boom’, led by the US and the internet, that we have heard so much about recently? Dot com companies are going to the wall, prestigious US banks are wobbling, manufacturing – especially the car industry – is slowing down, and there are fears of a return both of recession and inflation in the world’s biggest economy. For the ideologues of the ruling class, these are just temporary blips in an otherwise healthy world economy. But as we argue in this article, they are in fact pointers to the real state of the capitalist world economy, and a warning of savage attacks on the living standards of the working class, which have in any case continued to worsen throughout this period of phoney boom.

The future belongs to the struggle of the working class

In the USA, the country always cited as an example of unstoppable growth and of an economy which has almost ‘wiped out unemployment’, 18% of the population, around 36 million people, live below the poverty line. Insecure, part-time and underpaid jobs have become the norm and there has been a continuous fall in workers’ living standards for ten years. In Britain, the industrial heart of the economy is more and more diseased, as can be seen with the crises at Rover, Ford and Harland and Wolff. All the official blather about how the ‘Internet economy’ will create loads of alternative jobs can’t change this.

Paddington rail crash: product of capitalist competition

Four days after the Paddington rail crash, the death toll is still uncertain, but will probably be well over 120.

The "public" has grown intelligent about such disasters. Alongside the horror at the carnage in the wrecked carriages, alongside the shock and grief of the bereaved, there has bee the shock and grief of the bereaved, there has been a powerful groundswell of anger. It is widely understood that an event like this cannot be explained away as an "accident". It is widely understood that this is part of a pattern.

The dismantling of social security

The following article first appeared in Revolution Internationale, the publication of the ICC's section in France. Although many of the references are to specifically French phenomena, the basic points made in the article apply equally to the creation of the National Health Service in Britain as well as other systems of social welfare put in place after the Second World War. The ruling class wanted to justify the carnage of the conflict and to prepare workers for the ferocious exploitation of the reconstruction period. In the same way, the current moves towards dismantling the National Health Service and other aspects of the 'Welfare State' are by no means a particular policy of Blair's New Labour or a wish-fulfilment for Howard's Tories. As the introduction to the article in RI puts it, "with its new plan to 'safeguard social security', the Raffarin government is once again preparing to reduce the social wage. It's the turn of health to be cut in this new plan of austerity, after the significant attacks on retirement pensions last spring and on unemployment pay last January. Far from being a national specificity, these attacks are developing and generalising to all capitalist countries which set up the Welfare State at the end of the Second World War because they needed reasonably healthy workers to undertake the reconstruction of the economy. The present attack on the welfare system in France, as in Germany some months ago, and as in Britain for some years now, means the end of the Welfare State and explodes the myth of 'social gains'. This attack reveals that, faced with the deepening of the economic crisis and the development of massive unemployment, the bourgeoisie cannot continue to maintain the majority of the workforce. The survival of capitalism demands an intensification of the productivity of labour, the hiring of the cheapest workforce possible, while reducing the cost of its maintenance. For the great majority of proletarians, it is uncertainty and misery that faces them now - in some cases even death, as we saw at the time of the heat wave last summer in France".

Workers pay for the management of the crisis

For decades the British state has shown both determination and skill in the management of a declining economy. Britain has gone from being the strongest capitalist power in the world, able to penetrate every market across the globe with the products of its manufaecturing industry, and impose economic policies on all its rivals, to a second rate position where it relies on the financial and service sectors to stave off economic catastrophe. In response to the perpetual problems of the economy the ruling class has been able to impose repeated measures of austerity on the working class, attacking its conditions of life and work and make workers pay the price for the crisis of their exploiters' system. And when workers in Britain have fought against capitalism's attacks the ruling class has generally succeeded in limiting the working class' response by disorientating and dividing it. In short, the British bourgeoisie has mastered the art of crisis management. However, it remains the management of the crisis, not its resolution. The ruling class undermine workers' struggles; but it has not been able to impose a decisive defeat. The crisis continues. The class struggle continues. Managing the crisis

Crises and cycles in the economy of dying capitalism, part 1

This article is the first part of a study published in the review Bilan in 1934, by the Left Fraction of the Italian Communist Party. The study’s aim was to “better penetrate the meaning of the crises which have periodically shaken the whole capitalist apparatus, and in conclusion to try to characterise and define as precisely as possible the era of definitive decadence which capitalism fills with the bloody upheavals of its death-agony”.


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