Humans vs Markets

Workers' Party of Britain Statement

 

An unbalanced economy such as ours, a slave to myths of the market, was always going to be at a massive disadvantage when trying to cope with the reality of Covid 19. The government can be blamed for not doing enough and fast enough. It has been chaotic and slow with the manufacture and delivery of ventilators, the procurement of PPE for medical and care staff, and the provision of vital testing. However, when our nation is under such a devastating attack any division in our class is unacceptable.

A government bailout of £400 billion overturns decades of neo-liberal economic orthodoxy. Government had no choice. We now have a new era of “whatever it takes” and government is forced to act “in the greater public interest.” The overblown finance sector always operating in its own self-interest is seen for what it is, irrelevant to the needs of human life; it has to change.

As a nation there is no alternative to investing in our people; previous administrations over the last 30 years thought there was. The real economy is created by our labour, not the finance houses. Governments in Britain and Europe promoted the lie that ‘austerity’ is a necessity to reduce national debt, when the reality is that national debt has little to do with economic success. With ultra-low interest rates government can borrow cheaply. National debt must be left to rise.

So far government has acted correctly, more or less, in supporting jobs, even though many are furloughed. When this existential threat has been contained it provides us with the opportunity to reset our economy on socially responsible principles which serve our people. Never has there been a greater need for industry, particularly hi-tech, to manufacture for our needs at this critical time. Capital expenditure should go to manufacturing, scientific research and development, food production and public services; anything else is peripheral.

Too much of the finance sector has a parasitic relationship with workers, be they private banks, mortgage companies or money-lending outfits. The private sector devours itself, ably assisted by private equity firms and other organisations making billions at the expense of workers. Private and corporate debt has ballooned far more than public debt. Capitalism thrives on private debt with disastrous consequences. Banks received many billions of public funds in the 2008/9 crash. This time banks must capitalise our recovery.

In the future our economy has to be resilient through proper investment, not reliant on domestic and foreign privateers. There is no room for division in the fight to destroy this virus, just as there is no room for division in creating an economy that works for us.

The Fight Against Covid-19

Workers' Party of Britain Statement

 

We are living in difficult times, in which we are being encouraged to socially distance ourselves. Now more than ever, it is essential that our union organisation remains intact. Indeed, in this environment our collective organisations are not only needed but should be made to thrive.

Following the financial crisis of 2008 many countries used a third of their GDP to bail out banks and prop up finance capital; the very institutions that created the crisis. The outcome was the socialisation of debt and so-called austerity for the many, while gain and financial support was privatised to the benefit of the billionaires.

In the current crisis we see a Tory prime minister introducing what might be argued are collectivist support measures, such as co-opting private health companies into the NHS, supposedly on a non-profit making basis, and providing additional payments for working people unable to work because of self-isolation and social distancing.

It seems that this time round collectivist, altruistic thought and action are a force to be reckoned with. Government planners are sitting down with the TUC to listen to views on how best the crisis can be survived. Supermarkets are acting to prevent the emergence of black-markets and have introduced rationing, allowing only a few of any one item. Of course, they are also acting to protect their own position in the long term.

A few weeks ago, we saw hysterical comments in the press against China, for measures now advocated here. The arguments and misinformation were everywhere that the Chinese are authoritarian, and they hide the truth, so they must have shot Covid-19 sufferers in order to bring down the infection levels. But the world and Britain too, have had to learn from the still highly socialised Chinese society and its nation's health service. We owe them a debt.

In Britain, the government was far too slow to react; it decided not to follow WHO guidelines, on testing, self-isolation or lock-down. It also delayed co-opting private hospitals into the NHS, and has yet to move industry on to a crisis footing, where any productive capacity that can be, is co-opted to the production of necessary food, PPEs, ventilators, etc.

The medical research establishment and pharmaceutical industry, where possible, must be tasked with developing and producing test kits, vaccines and anti-virals. In such a crisis intellectual property and patents cannot be privately owned and used to make profits. Britain must source and share medicines from around the world, and not just US and EU.

China, Russia and Cuba among other countries are developing the medical technology needed to detect, prevent and treat Covid-19 and internationalism has been shown by the Chinese in sending supplies and medicines to other countries, such as Italy and Spain. In other acts of solidarity, we have seen the arrival of medical, nursing and technical personnel from China, Cuba and other countries.

Trump, the leader of US imperialism, initially denied the threat faced by the Covid disease. But later, when pressed to take national steps to declare a state of emergency, he undermined the science behind its investigation and treatment. Now, he is seen standing beside an embarrassed senior medical official, spouting on about some snake oil remedy and suggesting that America will be back to normal in a couple of weeks.

Economically speaking, we would expect food prices to go up; this is because the overall social cost of production is higher for food, since the social wage has necessarily gone up. Millions of workers are not working and yet, strangely under capitalism, they are to be paid, albeit less than previously. We must ensure that food producers, distributors and retailers do not profit from this crisis. The same should be said for producers of health care equipment. We are not about to sell the myth that profit comes from adding a premium to the cost of production.

In medicine, as in engineering or chemical production, science is crucial. In medicine, it is science and the ingenuity of workers that will improve our world, not adherence to myth, anecdote or wishful thinking. And the same is true of social and political science.

Coronavirus

Workers' Party of Britain Statement

 

Eating bats and pangolins is not for everyone, but everyone in the world can catch the zoonic viruses, like the coronaviruses which can jump from beasts to humans.

Dining on such wild animals is illegal in China and a few individuals who broke this social law could well be responsible for current pandemic of COVID-19.

Putting personal taste before social responsibility can have truly devastating consequences.

Coronavirus
 
As the world responds to the virus we see that only collective social action, science based government decisions and publicly funded research and development in conjunction with public health services can marshal a defence and cure. Private drug companies and finance markets cannot do a thing to help.

The Covid virus presents not only medical and social problems, but also highlights political, economic faultlines in capitalist society. The decades of "efficiency and best value" cuts has sapped the resilliance and flexibility of our NHS; prison services are unsafe due to overcrowding and the age and condtion of buildings; poverty particularly of children and elderly weakens an already vulnerable sector of the population; a benefits system that already regularly leaves claimants without money for food or rent; numerous workers on, zero-hour contracts or otherwise self-employed are not eligible for sickpay or other benefits.
 
Indeed the parasitical virus of capital markets has made containment and management of the disease much more difficult. Privatisation has fragmented once coherent health services and cuts have hollowed our social care provision. But the reality is that this virus can outstrip the best resourced health systems in the world. Urgent emphasis is therefore being given to finding better, quicker testing kits and a vaccine. But even with the world's best laboratories working around the clock, it will take a while to develop an effective vaccine.

Neoliberalism said there was no real need for active government, democratic accountability, or nation states. Removing the restraints on capital flows, it engineered an elaborate global system of deregulation, manic, very environmentally unfriendly trade and spawned banks that dwarved many nations in their money - wealth and power. This whole global pomp and excess is utterly useless in the face of a human problem like this.
 
Interconnected markets crumble at our expense while internationally co-ordinated scientists share the real value of human knowledge seeking to cure a human scourge. The solidarity, science, public funding and social discipline needed to deal with a virus like this represents the very opposite of the dominant values of the neoliberal period.
 
Neoliberalism socially distanced individuals and believed there was no such thing as society. Ironically, perhaps, by isolating ourselves when needed to control the virus spread and taking collective measures to cancel social interactions, we are rediscovering the basic ethics of socialism.

The high value of social care, health and scientific workers is being appreciated anew. The mind numbing imbecility of the stock market traders pocketing fortunes as they strip billions from our investments and savings is laid bare for all to see.

Private wealth holdings are literally billions of times bigger than the amounts being dedicated to fight the virus and fund our health services. The insatiable greed of the profit motive contrasts as perhaps never before on a global level with the human-focused public initiatives to protect each other at a time of danger.

Superstitions which have underpinned the voodoo economics of austerity and the deliberate construction of inequality or the blood thirsty jihads and wars of terror on learning and peaceful nations, all look as nasty as viruses when compared with the sophisticated science of immunologists, pandemic modellers and public health specialists, and the real bravery of front line health workers from cleaner to consultant.

Capitalists will exploit the crisis, watch prices on toilet rolls, hand sanitisers and essential supplies. When the vaccine is discovered, watch who will want to monopolise it.

But they won't get away with it will they this time? Humanity is crying out for a human cure for all. The dedication of human resources to benefit our health and well being is tangibly primary, just as the responsibility of our physical interactions has made us not selfishly self aware, but socially conscious again.

For many decades war, man-made starvation, the loads-of-money bravado of Wall Street and the City of London have dominated culture. Now there's something more human on the airwaves.

No one remotely requires a devastating new virus to change things for the better, but the reality is that it is generating a new consciousness which is rejecting the madness of the last forty years. International co-operation is replacing globalisation; science is valued above wishful thinking; government action is overriding the market; national self reliance is being asserted above subservience to the EU, IMF, WTO and the like.

What is evident to eveyone is that the public sphere is obviously better than the private and community care is better than individualism.

January 31st - Independence Day

Workers' Party of Britain Statement

 

There is nothing more politically precious than self-determination. National independence is the key to democratic and economic progress.

The banks and large corporations have created a new world order of international free trade agreements, highly mobile capital flows and supranational bodies like the IMF, WTO, and EU.

To free themselves to plunder, they had to break down national democratic parliaments and over rule the sovereign laws and protections of individual countries.

The EU, aided by both the Tories and then New Labour, conducted a slow motion coup d’etat against Britain. First, our material sources of independence in agriculture, engineering and energy supply were pulled apart. Then, our public services and utilities were hollowed out and put under foreign ownership. As part of the attack, the global reach of the City of London and its speculators was given free reign as our own people started to starve and rely on food banks.

Those manufacturers and service providers that remained were forced to compete for public contracts under the procurement rules in an unfair, rigged single EU market. Petty divisions within Britain were stoked by the EU under the illusion that if Scotland and Wales broke away they would be rewarded with a form of ‘independence’ that made them entirely subservient to the EU.

Labour Movement Abandoned Sovereignty

The Trade Union Movement and the Labour Party abandoned Britain’s sovereignty and in a complete rejection of our democratic history, they believed that the unelected in Brussels and the European Court of Justice would save us. As a result, the vast majority of the working class abandoned them. Today there are six million workers in the trade unions but twenty six million unorganised. Worse still, in 1980 trade unions had collective bargaining rights for more than 80% of workers. Today, it is less than 20%.

The majority of people do not want to be part of a movement that has nothing to offer them and that has no confidence that our collective struggle and not the EU is the key to all progressive change.

In the absence of trade union or Labour Party commitment to Britain, workers supported latecomers to the field of anti-EU work like UKIP and the Brexit Party and, ultimately, had to force their arch opponents, the Tory Party, to get the country out.

After Brexit the Tories are Redundant

The Tories have one mandate, to get us out of the EU. After that is done they are redundant. They will be propped up by the Fixed Term Parliament Act and a Labour Party yet again trying to get its own house in order for five years to be ready for next time. Labour will turn against the rise of extra Parliamentary activity needed to assert our interests as it has always done.

We cannot wait however, the fruits of national independence must benefit workers now. A new deal for workers is needed. We are the nation. We must prosper. The better we do, the more we inspire others to do so, that is real internationalism.

No one can rule over us. We want neither NATO, nor a special relationship with the United States, nor vast swathes of our economy in foreign owned hands. Our fishing grounds, our agriculture, rebuilt manufacturing and high tech industrial sectors and rebooted, genuinely public, services, nationally owned utilities and transport systems must thrive in a new way.

We must settle the democratic deficit in the country and create a new constitutional settlement for the people.

Unelected, overseas control of our parliament and laws is over, now elected, accountable domestic control over our whole economy must begin.

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Britain and the World

Socialism is a recent, infant development in the whole, long history of the human species, yet its seeds and embryos have grown within each previous social formation worldwide.

thumbnail of Britain and the WorldIts essence in collective labour, sharing, solidarity, mutual support and human empathy has been evident in every human society. What has been unnatural and inhuman has been the theft of the collective production of people and the private ownership of land. This has occurred in relatively recent, class divided history since the first City states in Mesopotamia 5,000 years ago. It was this division into various forms of haves and have nots over the centuries that gave rise to new ideas of socialism which aspire to and predict a future without class division, the oppression of women, or ethnic groups.

Yet the full realisation of these socialist, human qualities comes about only when the material conditions for securing equality and a better life for all have been sufficiently developed. Socialism requires plenty, not penury. It requires a high level of education and awareness to sustain active democracy and an educated, conscious working class.

In 2018 humanity’s general capacity to control the natural, social and physical environments is advanced enough to eradicate starvation, poverty, unemployment, many more diseases and to repair the very climate damage its own activities of industrialisation have caused and prevent more damage in the future.

Each country has the wherewithal to provide free housing, education, healthcare, leisure and work for everyone, and to control prices on essentials in food, energy, housing and transport, medicines and so on.

What prevents the fulfilment of this aspiration is the private ownership of the productive forces. These should be at society’s collective disposal through democratic government.

thumbnail of Britain and the World Published by The Workers' Party of Britain

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