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Capitalism :: Economic crisis
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We are the 99% - Take the wealth off the 1% Socialist Party placard, photo Paul Mattsson (Click to enlarge)
City banker Dame Helena Morrissey has called for "a more responsible and fairer form of capitalism" as part of a new report by the Blairite IPPR thinktank.
What it highlights is big business's lack of reinvestment - preferring to suck out short-term profits rather than develop infrastructure, technology and wages. This is a long-standing weakness of British capitalism, but is now a profound problem and part of the world economic crisis.
The report puts forward a list of reforms it hopes would boost the productivity of workers in the UK, and dissipate the anti-establishment mood fuelled by rising inequality. Few of the ideas are new.
Raising the minimum wage to £10.20 in London and £8.75 in the rest of the UK, for example. The Socialist Party campaigns for at least £10 an hour, without exemptions, now.
A 20% higher wage for those on zero-hour contracts. Many zero-hour workers would welcome this, but it risks dividing workforces. The Socialist Party fights for guaranteed hours for all who want them, and a single, trade union-agreed rate for the job.
Forming a national investment bank. Jeremy Corbyn has a similar policy. But to guarantee the resources and control needed for serious investment would also require nationalising all the banks and top corporations.
And giving workers a token voice on the boards of companies. This is something Theresa May had advocated - but subsequently u-turned on last year. The Socialist Party stands for full democratic workers' control and management.
It was a disappointment - but not a surprise - to see that report participant Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the Trade Union Congress, apparently failed to argue for a stronger position for the working class. Never mind the full pro-worker programme the Socialist Party fights for - it seems she didn't even call for scrapping the anti-union laws!
But the fundamental problem is there is no such thing as "responsible" or "fairer capitalism." Every flavour of capitalism is based on the majority of people doing all the work, and a tiny elite of super-rich big business owners making huge profits from it.
There's nothing 'fair' about that. And no system based on putting private profit ahead of everything else can ever be 'responsible'.
The Socialist Party fights for every possible improvement in the lives of ordinary people. But only ending the capitalist system - and replacing it with a socialist society, based on democratic planning to provide plenty for all - can make reforms comprehensive and permanent.
Britain has already seen an array of reforms after World War Two. But under capitalism, only constant working class struggle can offer any protection from attacks by profit-hungry bosses. As early as 1951, only three years after the set-up of the NHS, the capitalists and their politicians started privatising bits of it!
The IPPR report reflects the desperate fear of the capitalists. They are watching an angry working class starting to look for alternatives to their system.
Only a socialist society can truly make inequality a thing of the past. If workers fight to run our workplaces and society as a whole in our interests - to end poverty, for job security, and decent housing and services - we will no longer have to wait for the imaginary generosity of the capitalists.
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Article dated 12 September 2018
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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