Editorial from the February 1997 issue of the Socialist Standard
Not content with exploiting us for profit, the capitalist class and their political representatives appear to be stepping up their campaign to rub our noses in the mess their system has made. Once again, some of the most vulnerable members of our class (in this particular case the homeless) have been singled out for attack by Conservatives and Labour politicians alike. This should come as no surprise to anyone with a even a rudimentary knowledge of how the market economy works.
Capitalism is a social system based upon production for profit rather than human need and if needs cannot be backed up by ability to pay, then they will go unmet. The hungry will starve, the ill will die of preventable diseases—and yes—the homeless will go without housing. In order to stop the useful majority who produce all the wealth in capitalism, the working class of wage and salary earners, from uniting in common cause to put and end to this crazy situation, divide-and-rule tactics are used.
Racism, nationalism, sexism and homophobia are the most obvious expressions of the division of the working class resulting from the enforced economic scarcity and competition of the market economy, combined with the insidious propaganda of the ruling class. But whenever these divisions won't suffice there is always the unemployed, the single parents or the homeless to blame for the mess we have to live in.
And this is precisely the point. In an obsolete and inequitable system like capitalism workers are constantly looking for someone to blame for their plight. They can blame the politicians who oversee the running of the market, or they can blame the capitalist system itself, but these are for obvious reasons options that are not encouraged. Instead workers are invited to blame other members of our class for their own predicament. Lacking class consciousness, many fall for it.
When they do it plays right into the hands of the ruling class, making their task of dividing groups of workers from one another even easier. It is up to class conscious workers to combat this tactic, pointing out the real cause of working-class problem and why politicians have to resort to such specious tactics to stave off any threat to their system.
We say there is only way forward for the working class—zero tolerance for capitalism and all capitalist politicians!