Fight for an End to Capitalism - The Only Way to a Better Life

2007: 9 August, PNB Paribas shocks financial markets by freezing three financial funds, comprising “complex assets” of largely fictitious capital built around mortgages.

14 September, As financial markets steer clear of mortgage-backed ‘securities’ Northern Rock has difficulty selling on its mortgages. Fears that the bank will go bust spark the first run on a British bank for 150 years.

2017 and we are a decade on from the world financial crash which rocked a complacent capitalist class to the core. In 2007, suddenly the boast that capitalism was “the best of all possible worlds” evaporated and now everyone knows that without the gargantuan injection of purely nominal sums of capital onto banks’ balance sheets the global financial set-up would have collapsed. The knock-on consequences of this would have gone far beyond the Wall St Crash.

As it is, the 21st century crash sparked the Occupy movement, as millions of people in the US and beyond were left without a roof over their head. In the wider world rocketing food prices sparked the Arab Spring, a spontaneous popular movement for a fairer society which spread from Tunisia to Egypt and eventually Syria. All these movements took on the ‘anti-capitalist’ label but they had no clear goal and the one class which has a vested interest in overthrowing capitalism had no political road map of how to get there. Now, as the Arab Spring has turned into the Isis Winter and the imperialist powers lock horns over control of the Middle East stocks and dividends are thriving. While the biggest worry for the one per cent is ‘how to spend it’, whole societies are collapsing under the impact of capitalist war and man-made food shortages. Millions of people with no means of making a living are forced to become ‘migrants’, to join a wider working class which faces nothing but increased hardship and a future that is unambiguously worse than before.

It’s not that this is new. As we keep reminding our readers, the capitalist crisis has now been running for well over four decades. Although its root cause is the falling rate of profit the consequences have never been limited to the economic sphere. During its course we have seen the collapse of state capitalism in the USSR and the countries within its imperialist bloc, with all the attendant misery of unemployment, poverty and despair for the working class. But there have been political consequences too, from the Balkan wars for division of the spoils and control in the old Yugoslavia to the reunification of Germany and the expansion of the EU to incorporate impoverished states from the old Eastern bloc. Coupled with the policy of ‘free movement of people’ within the bloc, this has provided capitalists in the area with a ready supply of cheap, flexible labour power.

Anyone or any organisation with the interests of the working class in their sights, who wants to be part of a reawakening of resistance to the audacious tyranny of 21st century capital, has to be prepared to see the wider picture.

Here in the UK

Decades of economic ‘restructuring’, globalisation and deindustrialisation, imposed by capitalism in order to regain profitability (though not without resistance from the working class) have changed how we live and work. In the 4 years from 1979 to 1983 manufacturing jobs fell from 7.1 to 5.3 million. It took another 20 years, from 1984-2004 for that figure to drop a further 1.8m. (to 3.5 million). Over those years the economy moved towards its current shape: more ‘service sector’ work; ballooning of speculative capital; public services turned into commodities and the financialisation of assets to provide profits for the voluminous increase in finance capital.

For a time, many workers found consolation in the decline of dirty, heavy, back-breaking work. They bought into capitalist propaganda about the ‘new economy’ and a property-owning democracy as they stacked up their personal debt or eased themselves into early retirement. The last decade has put paid to many illusions about a personal way out, not least on the housing front.

Home ownership (at 62.9% in 2016) is now the lowest since 1985. No surprise since the average house now costs 7.6 times earnings (c.f. 3.6 times in 1997). We hear a lot about the selfish baby boomers but the working class shares its economic hardship. A growing number of young workers who do get a mortgage owe it to the so-called Bank of Mum&Dad. Same thing with renting. Others have to live with their parents. With so much ‘social’ housing sold off, average rents outside London are over £900 per month. Increasingly your landlord is likely to be a limited company. (1 in 5 rented homes are an investment opportunity for financial capital.)

On the wages front the prospect of ‘catching up’ with lost ground is being continually deferred. According to the Financial Times _“the average worker in Britain will earn no more in 2021 than he or she did in 2008. The workforce is living through the worst period for pay in more than 70 years and forecasts say the end is barely in sight.”_ (Sarah O’ Connor, Financial Times T 3.5.17)

No surprise then that the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reports that nearly a third of people in the UK live in a household where there is not enough money for adequate food, clothing and housing and the basics of a social life, up from a quarter at the start of the financial crisis_._ And, incidentally, if more women are wage workers than ever before it says a lot about the position of women in this era of equal opportunity that wages are declining. This is reflected in the fact that two-thirds of ‘poor children’ are from households with at least one working parent.

Lowering of living standards is much more than hourly wage rates, the whole framework for sale of labour power is being steadily undermined and bringing lower standards of living both in terms of social wage (deteriorating NHS and welfare services, holiday entitlements, pensions etc) and conditions in the workplace …. Not surprisingly, as increased exploitation moves from relative to absolute, increasing life expectancy is beginning to reverse. [The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, quoting from the Office for National Statistics, suggest that men aged 65 will now live another 22.2 years, down from 22.8 years in 2013. Women aged 65 will now live for a further 24.1 years, down from 25.1 years in 2013. “ … this is a boon for pension schemes and insurance companies”. Yes, it’s the Financial Times again!]

Despite all the talk of the ‘triple lock’ to protect state pensions from inflation, the age of pensionable retirement is perpetually being raised whilst more and more company pension schemes are being robbed and wound down by finance capital. (For example, the Post Office or BMW including the Oxford new mini plant, where workers are holding a series of strikes to try and keep hold of the scheme they have paid into.)

Meanwhile the state has frozen payments for 4 years on a whole panoply of welfare benefits, from Jobseeker’s Allowance to income support and child benefit. Other means-tested benefits are being cut altogether. (e.g. tax credits will not be paid for more than 2 children.) Millions of working age people are becoming steadily even worse off. Together with the ‘efficiency’ savings imposed on the NHS, reduced funding for elderly care is making it difficult for finance capital to turn a profit and leading to a scandalous disregard for the wellbeing of fellow human beings towards the end of their lives.

In this litany of impoverishment, personal debt is ballooning. At £67.3bn in February, credit card debt in the UK is now higher than its ever been. Last year, UK banks had £19bn of ‘impairments’ on credit cards, compared with £12bn on mortgages. (An impaired asset is one where the market price is less than the figure listed on the company’s balance sheet. Simply, loans that will not be fully paid back to the banks. It’s all looking very familiar!)

How we fight back

In short, the sharpening gulf between the classes could not be clearer. The signs are that the working class is reviving its will to fight. A couple of issues ago we welcomed the resistance of Deliveroo and other so-called gig economy workers to their anonymous bosses who assumed they could impose whatever wages and conditions they liked by claiming that all the drivers were just individuals volunteering for a ‘gig’. By their collective actions these workers have asserted their common class interest and seen through the claim that they are all just individuals. But there is another danger. It relates to the unions, some of them new, some of them old, which are stepping in to advise and direct things and in the process directing the struggle into a legal battle. This might strengthen the union’s legal right to represent the workforce but it encourages workers to leave it to the union.

So the need for workers to find a way of organising for themselves inside and beyond their own work unit is down-played and usually actively sabotaged. Looking to combine with other workers for a broader fight is liable to give way to another priority: the union officer’s expansion of the membership list. There can be no denying support for any struggle where workers set out to win a better existence. But the era when the trade unions helped the working class to improve its position within capitalism has long gone. What’s more, the unions, whose aim at best is for a fair day’s pay, are unable to defend even the existing conditions of the working class. Since the advent of a UK legal minimum wage, for example a growing portion of the workforce is being paid only the minimum.

In 1999, just 3.4 per cent of jobs were paid the minimum wage; by 2016 it was 7.1 per cent. On current projections, it will reach 12.1 per cent by 2020. (our emphasis) As a result, the proportion of UK employees who are relatively low paid (with hourly earnings below two-thirds of the median) has barely changed in 20 years. (

The wage floor is becoming the ceiling. Some firms, such as John Lewis (that supposed model of capitalist fairness) are sacking workers rather than pay them the legal minimum.

The working class today – and not just in Britain – can have no illusions that there will be a return to post-war certainties and improved living standards. The only way to a better future is to get rid of capitalism and replace it with a rational system based on the allocation of resources to where they are needed under the direction of workers themselves. Such a step will mark the end of a long political road: one that recognises the need for a wider struggle beyond the shifting frame of what we are entitled to under capitalism, and certainly outside the existing political set-up. In short, a movement propelled by a revolutionary organisation with a clear programme that demonstrates the necessity, viability and way forward to get rid of capitalism. This has to be on a world scale, but we can only start from where we are. Join us in the battle to reshape the world we live in.


May 17 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017


I like the conclusion, it is a communist solution. One that would truly end the dictatorship of value, exchange, and put human needs and development firmly on centre stage, not some autonomous economic development serving a tiny minority.

For those sick of the life on offer under capitalism, an immediate obstacle is the fragmented whirling world of ideological separations which seem to spend all their efforts on promoting a specific subset of an ideological church with little regard to the fact that the only revolution on offer is the working class revolution against class.

Perhaps what I will say will ruffle a feather or two, but nothing major.

I think that the ICT is a part of the communisation tendency!

What I am saying is that for those looking for precise lines of demarcation that make up communisation, or who would wish to characterise it by the perspective of one of its elements are simply adding to ideologial separations and confusion.

All that is required to be part of the communisation tendency is the following;

The only way to a better future is to get rid of capitalism and replace it with a rational system based on the allocation of resources to where they are needed under the direction of workers themselves.

Maybe we could quibble over "rational"...would music festivals, beautiful parks and other sources of pleasure be considered rational? Nothing more important than falling in love.... But this is mere quibbling.

The serious point is that the generation of ever more walls of ideological separation works against us.

Proletarians of all lands, unite!

Stevein7 and readers might also consider that maybe it is an advantage for workers worldwide that there are all sorts of ideological separations. At least they should serve a useful purpose of making us think, which must be better than just being subjected to a single allegedly perfect doctrine. Perfect for whom shouild of course be a spontaneous question ! It all seems to boil down to a question as to what readers are going to do today about it all, where we are. How much time should be spent gazing at websites ? What should we take from them ? If and when we do reckon that one or more sets of thought and recommendations are worthwhile, how then can they actually be brought to workers where we live ? What difference would that make ? To whom ? I keep coming back (or forward !) to telling myself that the objective for communists is an intention that it will be a mattter of gaining communism here, not just somewhere else. Produicing someleaflets headed 'Communism Here' might immediately raise questions as to the meanings to various people as to what the word 'communism' means, which, in itself, ought to be a step forward, if and when definitions are explained. Reaching for understanding and agreement is surely vital, alongside, with and for 'class struggle'.

Aurora (en)

Aurora is the broadsheet of the ICT for the interventions amongst the working class. It is published and distributed in several countries and languages. So far it has been distributed in UK, France, Italy, Canada, USA, Colombia.