The Socialist 29 August 2018 |
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Editorial of the Socialist issue 1007
Capitalism is a chaotic, irrational system - we need socialist change
Capitalism means permanent instability (Click to enlarge)
We need change and we need it now. A future for humanity and the planet is at stake.
As early as 2030 there will be no summer ice in the Arctic Ocean. Areas of water normally frozen all year round are open for the first time after the oldest and thickest sea ice in the area started to break up for the first time on record. Scientists described this potential turning point as 'scary'. The impact of climate events this summer has been huge - with devastating floods in the south of India and wildfires in several countries.
To avoid a climate catastrophe, any rational society would take urgent action. It would turn the best scientific minds to investigating solutions and preparing contingencies. It would, for example, invest huge amounts in alternatives to fossil fuels.
But this event - and the many others that indicate wide-reaching policy change is needed to save the environment - has led to no fundamental change in governments' policies. Because they dance to the tune of the capitalist system and make decisions almost solely in the interests of short-term profit.
The same has been shown by other recent events. The collapse of the Morandi bridge in Italy and resulting death of 43 people horrified working class people (see 'Italy: Morandi bridge collapse - your profits are our dead' at socialistworld.net). But it wasn't a shock from nowhere. It was an almost predictable consequence of the privatisation of Italian motorway management - demanded by a system that sees no use in something that doesn't create profit for the capitalist class.
There had been prior warnings about the risk to the Morandi bridge but nothing was done. And it's not a uniquely Italian problem - even as long ago as 1999 a study found that 30% of road bridges in Europe had some sort of defect. In the US it's estimated that 8.8% of all bridges are "structurally deficient" - that's over 54,000 dangerous bridges. Let alone if we looked at all the other types of infrastructure crumbling under the weight of privatisation and underinvestment. But still far too little will be done.
If the capitalist politicians don't care enough about roads, the situation is even more pronounced when it comes to their disinterest in the welfare of the majority of people. The UK has experienced the worst slowdown of increase in life expectancy in the top 20 world economies. Experts point out the link to the crisis of social care for the elderly. Austerity is literally killing us. But it makes sense for capitalism so it carries on.
The capitalist press has cheered the alleged emergence of the Greek economy from a three year 'bailout deal' where the Syriza government committed to implementing brutal austerity in exchange for further loans from the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and European Union. Over half a million have emigrated. 20% are unemployed. More than a quarter of children live in poverty.
An ordinary person might be forgiven for assuming the celebrations meant the end of the suffering of the Greek people. But the 'emergence' being championed merely means the country can borrow at market rates for the first time since 2010. The repayments are due to continue for decades - at least. The cuts and privatisation will continue.
On all fronts - from the environment and infrastructure, to jobs and services, to health and wellbeing - this system is failing us. It's no wonder that people are looking for an alternative. Poll after poll tells us that an increasing number, especially of young people, have a more favourable view of socialism than capitalism.
And the desire for change is not just in polls. It's seen in the tens of thousands who attended rallies for Bernie Sanders and his 'political revolution against the billionaire class' during the US presidential primaries. In the surge behind Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader and the 'youthquake' in the general election. In the US teachers' strikes and the mass protests against the oppression of women in the Spanish state.
This potential rising tide of mass opposition, combined with the unresolved economic crisis of capitalism, is fundamentally what is behind the political crises of the capitalist classes around the world. It is why US capitalism finds itself with a billionaire president but not under its control. It is also behind the Brexit divisions within the Tory party here in Britain, and the civil war in Labour.
Working class people have the potential power to end this destruction and chaos. The Socialist Party stands for the nationalisation of the major corporations that dominate the economy under democratic workers' control and management. This would allow the formulation of a plan for the production of goods and services in a way that can meet the needs of people and the environment. A socialist world - run democratically to meet the needs and wants of the majority, not the profits of the super-rich - can end the insecurities of war, poverty, and oppression, opening up the possibility of a plentiful and peaceful future for all.