Saturday, July 14, 2018

Loss of the Titanic (1982)

From the April 1982 issue of the Socialist Standard

For over seventy years the Titanic has lain there, more than two miles down in the icy waters of the North Atlantic. During a few days in April 1912 it was the greatest ship in the world—the unsinkable. And then, on its maiden voyage in a clear night and on a calm sea, the Titanic foundered and over 1500 people died.

This liner was the pride of the White Star Line—built like two ships in one, with an inner steel skin divided into compartments which could be scaled off by a switch on the bridge. The Titanic's 46,000 tons were driven at over 22 knots by the steam power from 29 massive boilers, heated by coal fed to them by scores of sweating stokers. Well above the noisy drudgery of the engine rooms there was a riotous luxury for those who could afford it; “For the payment or £870 per voyage,” said one account, “the richest man on earth would not lack a single comfort that his wealth might buy”.

When the Titanic left Queenstown on its first, and only, voyage seventy years ago this month its passengers included capitalists whose ownership of wealth totalled over £120 million. There was J. J. Astor, the banker Washington Dodge, “smelter king” Benjamin Guggenheim; men like Charles Hays and J. B. Thayer, rich through the ownership of American railroads. They were attended by maids, valets, nurses and governesses, apart from hundreds of stewards and stewardesses. Many of these people were making the crossing for no more pressing reason than to take part in a glamorous, historic event—a celebration of their position and power as members of the ruling class. There were other passengers whose motives were rather different; the Third Class accommodation carried hundreds of emigrating workers, many of them Irish, who were hoping to find a more rewarding style of exploitation on the other side of the Atlantic. When the Titanic sank their plight, appropriate to their inferior station, was particularly desperate.

As it drew out of Queenstown the Titanic, with its size and power and exclusive luxury, represented the confidence of contemporary capitalism that no problems were beyond its power to solve. There had been no major war in Europe for 40 years, although it needed a conscious effort to blot out the signs which in 1912 were clearly showing that peace was not to last much longer. On all sides there were technological advances which could be comfortingly misconstrued as evidence of a human triumph over natural forces and social problems. The commander of the Titanic, Captain Smith, had contributed his own evidence: “I cannot imagine,” he had said six years before, “any condition which would cause a ship to founder . . . Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that”. This was supposed to be an orderly society in which everyone knew their place and happily kept to it. There could be no doubt that it worked; after all there was the Titanic to prove it . . .

Near midnight on April 14, three days out, the Titanic collided with an iceberg and by a process as inexorable as a mathematical equation filled up with water and sank. The iceberg, made of snow accumulated over 3,000 years, had broken loose about two years before the collision and had been drifting in the Labrador Current. It tore a massive hole beneath the water line in five of the Titanic's compartments; as the sea poured in the vessel dipped bow first, which eventually sent the water over the top of each supposedly watertight bulkhead into the next compartment, which filled up and pushed the bow further down, and so on.

It took nearly three hours for the Titanic to sink, amid a deafening roar from its boilers, leaving some seven hundred terrified survivors in the boats or clinging to pieces of wreckage. By then it was clear that in one respect it was not a luxurious ship; there had been 2,201 people on board but there were lifeboats for only 1,178. Confidence had overruled caution—why have a lot of life-saving equipment on a ship which couldn’t be sunk?

A quick reaction to the disaster was a flood of nonsense about the behaviour of the crew and passengers, as if capitalism was seeking some consolation for this blow to its arrogance. A contemporary publication—The Deathless Story of the Titanic by Philip Gibbs—was sickeningly lyrical:
   All the great virtues of the soul were here displayed upon “that dim dark sea, so like unto death” —courage, self- forgetfulness, self-sacrifice, love, devotion to those highest ideals which are the guiding stars of life, beyond the common reach.
Reality was less noble. There were many brave acts that night but there was also some predictable panic. Some passengers tried to rush the boats, one officer fired his pistol to control a panic, another berated the Managing Director of the White Star Line, Bruce Ismay, for his disruptive influence while the seamen were trying to get a lifeboat away. One of the boats which had places for 40 people was launched with only 12; it was dominated by Sir Cosmos Duff Gordon, who prevented it returning to the scene to pick up more survivors.

Then there was the matter of the numbers saved from each class of passenger. Gibbs claimed: “Women and children first—the old law of the sea—was obeyed. The old tradition of chivalry was upheld, as splendidly as ever in the story of the sea”. The truth is that a greater proportion of men in the First (Mass (33 per cent) were saved than of male children in the Third Class (27 per cent). Only four First Class women passengers died out of a total of 144 but in the Third Class 89 out of a total of 165—or 54 per cent—were lost.

The official British report on the disaster denied that this was due to any discrimination, saying that it was “. . . due to various causes, among which the difference in the position of their quarters and the fact that many of the third-class passengers were foreigners, are perhaps the most important”. In fact the position of the accommodation was vital; the First Class was much nearer the boat deck and was sealed from the rest of the ship by barriers many of which were kept locked even as the Titanic was filling with water. Some were guarded by a seaman doing his duty to stop people having access to something they couldn't afford, while fellow members of his class pleaded for their lives to be let through. And even if some steerage passengers did get through the barriers there was nothing and nobody to guide them through the maze of unfamiliar corridors and stairways up to the boats. Pathetically, many died because they went back for their luggage; its loss would have been a major catastrophe for them. The report's conclusion that there had been no discrimination by class should be taken in the context that no Third Class passengers testified to the Inquiry. The press might have aired their story but they were not interested; when the survivors arrived at New York the attention was focused on the likes of Mrs. Astor. who was met by two limousines carrying two doctors and a trained nurse and of Mrs. Widener and Mrs. Hays, who each had a private train waiting for them. The ruling class survived, as they lived, in the best parasitic style.

Record time
There was a simple reason for the sinking of the Titanic but it docs not tell the whole story. The master's sailing orders instructed him:
   You are to dismiss all idea of competitive passages with other vessels and to concentrate your attention upon a cautious, prudent, and ever-watchful system of navigation, which shall lose time or suffer any other temporary inconvenience rather than incur the slightest risk which can be avoided.
Smith's response to this was to take his ship on a course which, he knew, lay through seas where there would be icebergs. He was specifically warned that icebergs lay ahead but he drove into the danger zone at too high a speed with inadequate lookout. If the iceberg had been seen sooner, or the ship had been travelling slower, there might well have been a different story.

Was this, then, an isolated case of experienced seamen (Smith was White Star's senior captain and had 38 years of work for them behind him) suddenly taking leave of their senses? In reality, Smith's sailing orders were little better than fantasy. Those were the days of fierce competition on the trans-Atlantic crossing; the mighty ocean liners were the Concordes of their time and they travelled amid a similar ballyhoo and displayed ostentation. On the Atlantic crossing it was common practice, whatever the orders said, to sacrifice safety for schedules because ships which did not arrive on time lost business for their companies. For the Titanic, on its maiden voyage, it was particularly important to make a crossing in record time; there were all those wealthy and influential members of the ruling class to impress.

For all those privileged people, to cross the Atlantic in the greatest of all ships was an affirmation of their superior position in society. (When the survivors got to New York in the Carpathia the Social Register could hardly face the disgrace of rich people travelling on such a low class vessel; it listed them as “Arrived Titan-Carpath. April 18. 1912”.) During the voyage the Titanic’s Marconigraph operators were buried in an avalanche of private messages and congratulatory telegrams, so that they refused the first ice warning because they were too busy; for the same reason, another warning lay unheeded beneath a paper weight. Another warning was, incredibly, given by Captain Smith to Bruce Ismay, who kept it for five hours, showing it to his friends as a reminder of his exalted position at the head of the company which owned this fabulous ship.

So it was not just a case, as the Inquiry had it, of a ship going too fast in dangerous conditions. For the excessive speed, and much of the circumstances in the tragedy of the Titanic, was a response to a festival of capitalist privilege. It was gruesomely appropriate, that it should turn out to be an exposure of a social system, which still lives seventy years on, as dominated and distorted by the reckless greed of the profit motive.

Trade Unions and the Labour Party (1996)

From the February 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard
The Labour Party leaders are so desperate to win the next general election that they have virtually banned any mention of trade unions. If Labour does win the election they are in for a nasty shock — and so are the trade unionists who helped them to power!
There was recently a postal workers’ strike in Scotland. An unofficial strike. What the word “unofficial” might mean was never entirely certain, since union officials were very much involved in negotiations for the strike’s resolution. It would seem to mean that the workers acted of their own accord, possibly spontaneously though not necessarily without consulting, or rather asking the permission of, their “leaders”.

One tiling was obvious; part of the significance of this word “unofficial” lay in the union officials’ “official” disapproval of the workers’ actions Seemingly facing both ways at once, union officials continued to represent the workers, but with a certain embarrassment and even bad temper. This disapproval might have two possible causes; the feeling that the workers had themselves in some way usurped the hierarchical prerogatives of the leadership and the officials, or (more likely) fear of the embarrassment that might be caused to the Trade Union movement’s “parliamentary representatives”, the Labour Party, with a general election coming up in the next year or so.

As everybody knows, because the media continually tell us, the Labour Party is “in the pocket of the unions”. The unions pay Labour’s bills, the unions have 50 percent of the votes at the Labour Party conference, the unions sponsor individual MPs. It is obvious, “he who pays the piper calls the tune”; but who actually pays who? Do the unions pay labour for its support, or does the Labour Party buy industrial peace by promises of “faimess”, “workers’ rights”, “union rights” and the rest? It seems a mutually beneficial relationship, all very cosy and enough to have the bosses howling with rage.

The bosses, though, don't actually howl. The Tories howl occasionally, as do the press, in a fairly anodyne, stagy sort of way, especially as elections approach. The bosses worry, they worry about this relationship. They worry at this relationship, they’re not sure whether to believe in it or not. However much Tony Blair tries to convince them that he is their natural and greatest friend, they worry about the unions. In fact, Blair is right, he is a great friend and ally of the bosses, as is the Labour Party as a whole. In a general sense labour is the employers’ ally as the B- team of UK capitalism, helping keep the lid on dissent in this country when the Tories foul things up so much as to become a liability.

In a related way, Labour helps the bosses by being a regulating, calming influence on the unions, whether in or out of office. In office, they tell trade unionists not to cause trouble or kick up a fuss, be good or you’ll upset our great progressive project from which you will benefit. Be nice boys and girls or we won’t be able to give you the presents we’ve promised. Out of office they say much the same thing, with the added incentive that patience brings its rewards—’’wait till we come to power and you’ll get justice”; which carries like a parasite in its hair the warning: “if you won’t be good we won’t get power and you’ll get nothing”.

“You’ll get nothing if you don’t calm down and shut up.” Does this sound like a relationship of equals? Mutual benefit?

The union movement is treated like an errant child by the Labour Party, and not only that but a poor and disadvantaged child offered the occasional scraps from the Big House (of Commons). The working class is a charity case; the Labour Party a patrician “charitable organisation”.

Obviously there are still disputes and strikes, whether Labour are in or out of office. In 1945 there was the dockers’ strike, in which the Labour government, the most radical government this country has ever seen, threatened the workers with the sack if they didn’t return to work. There was an acrimonious dispute over the Labour government’s union-bashing policies in its document In Place of Strife (an unfortunate title if ever there was one) in 1969. Then, of course, a decade later, there was the still infamous “winter of discontent”. These are just three occasions when unions came into direct conflict with Labour governments. Obviously there have been many more over the same period when workers have been forced to confront their employers, whether private or State.

There are two main points to be made here though; firstly, that whatever the intentions of those involved, a Labour government is a government of the capitalist system and will be forced by that system to act against the interests of working class people. Secondly, whether the government is Labour or Tory, and whatever else may be the case, under capitalism there is still always the irreparable faultline between the workers and the bosses, between the creators of wealth and the owners of wealth. As long as there is capitalism there will be class struggle, and the unions are still the most effective vehicles for working class people to organise for themselves in that struggle to defend what meagre benefits have already been gained and win what can be won. For themselves. Not for the realisation of the dreams of power for Tony Blair and his mates.

Break the link
The long-term, and finally the only real, interest of working-class people is no longer to be working class—i.e., for there to be no working, or any other, class at all. In other words, to replace capitalism with socialism; but that is not strictly the business of trade unions but of the, or a, Socialist Party—in other words, of the whole working class organised politically. In the meantime, however, it should be clear that the short-term interests of workers generally and organised labour in particular are damaged by the link between the unions and the Labour Party.

The unions continually rely on the Labour Party to represent their interests only to find that a Labour government always finally represents the interests of capital, while all the time their misguided faith encourages the unions, particularly the leaders, to tread softly, keep their heads down and wait for handouts. The trade unions were founded on the realisation that, to advance their interests even slightly, workers must organise collectively for themselves and act for themselves to force concessions from employers and the representatives of capital. Largely because of their links with the Labour Party, they are fast becoming little more than purveyors of insurance policies, cut-price holidays and empty rhetoric.

Over the summer of 1995, there were accusations of Stalinism thrown at the Labour leadership. Such accusations were not entirely inapposite, though perhaps the accusers didn’t have in mind quite the same things socialists have. What we have in mind is the way in which Labour both uses and ignores the working class, taking the support of workers for granted and subordinating their needs to those of the party (or should that be “Party”?). Subordinating the unions and the union members’ interests to their own, denying the existence of class struggle and trying to replace it with the struggle of the Parliamentary Labour Party for power; there is a great deal of common ground between Leninism and Labourism in their attitudes towards working class people and trade unions. It’s high time the unions realised they are getting the poor end of a bad deal. Instead of relying on handouts from the leaders of just another capitalist party, the unions should regain the initiative and fight once more for themselves and for each other. They should cut their losses and, once and for all, cut all their links with Labour.
Jonathan Clay

50 Years Ago: Labour Foreign Minister Bevin and his Predecessors (1996)

The 50 Years Ago column from the February 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard

Now that the Labour Party is in power its promise to introduce Socialism at home and to pursue the “brotherhood of man" abroad is being put to the test. Instead of attempting to introduce Socialism (for which it did not receive or even seek a mandate at the election) it is extending state capitalism by nationalising various industries while retaining all of the basic features of capitalism—the wages-system, production for profit and the exploitation of the workers for the benefit of the owning class. The only difference is that some of the owners are in future to hold Government Stock instead of company shares and are to have no hand in management of the undertakings.

Being thus confined within the limits set by capitalism their foreign policy is likewise pre-determined in all its broad lines. With the "brotherhood of man" on their lips they are engaged, like all their Liberal and Tory predecessors. in a high-powered drive to capture foreign markets for British exports. On taking office as Foreign Minister, Mr. Bevin was reported to have said: "British foreign policy will not be altered in any way under the Labour Government" (Evening News, 26th July, 1945). This continuity means carrying on the centuries-old policy of controlling trade routes, holding down colonies and protecting foreign investments.
(Article from Socialist Standard, February 1946)

Our Masters' Voice (1982)

From the March 1982 issue of the Socialist Standard

From the manifestly cheap (The Muppets) to the mystifying (Jesus of Nazareth), Lew (Lord) Grade and his cronies, at enormous profit to themselves, have socked it to us until (or so one might reasonably have supposed) our corporate stomach for the products of their tawdry road-show could take no more, thus hastening their downfall. The truth, unfortunately, lies elsewhere. It is that the recent collapse of Grade's extensive empire came about not so much because the public rejected his patronisingly inferior offerings but because of sheer boardroom incompetence.

To cut a long story short; it appears that Grade fancied himself, not merely as a highly successful light entertainment entrepreneur, but as a would-be film magnate in the grand tradition. Unfortunately for him and his fellow shareholders the film side of his enterprises never really got profitably under way: his biggest flop among some thirty-odd others was Raise the Titanic, which all but sank his Associated Communications Corporation (annual turnover, £250 million).

But, in order properly to understand the true nature of this growing catalogue of greed, graft and mismanagement—in itself a fair reflection of the euphemistically named “entertainments industry" as a whole—we need to remind ourselves of how it all began. Grade (believe it or not, a one-time professional Charleston dancer) had his chance, and took it, in 1954 when, on being awarded the Midlands Independent Television licence, he set up Associated Television (ATC). Dubbed from the start “licences to print money”, the ITV franchises lived up to their name. Through advertising and the promotion of a great deal of such unmemorable rubbish as that referred to above, Grade and his fellow operators seemingly could do no wrong. Grade's empire expanded almost as rapidly as his own ambitions. His board gave him every opportunity to do more or less as he pleased. They lived to regret their trust: Grade badly misjudged the American market for his films and ACC ran up debts in excess of £75 million. (All of which must be one further rebuff for that other slick operator, Harold Wilson who, in recognition of Grade’s services in helping deflect attention from his own betrayal of the working class, presented Grade with his fancy ermined robe and bloomers and bundled him off to the Lords.)

The grenade that blew up in Grade’s face was his attempted payment to his, by that time, evidently dispensable financial manager. Jack Gill, of a bob or two by way of beer-money in lieu of the boot— £560,000 cash, no less; not to mention other acceptable little perks, such as the quarter-million-pound house he lives in. Gill swallowed this insulting treatment with a brave smile—the City did not. A major shareholder, the National Association of Pension Funds, has secured an injunction withholding payment. In due course, no doubt, we shall be treated to yet another swinish struggle around the pig-trough. I don’t know about the Muppets, but Jesus of Nazareth must be throwing up all over the place, wherever he resurrected himself to.

Episode three-thousand-seven-hundred-and-forty-nine of the ACC farce sees, slithering in from the wings, the salivating figure of one Robert Holmes à Court. This South African born lawyer turned asset stripper from Australia (they do get about, these capitalists, don’t they?) has developed his alternative skills to a fine art. The trick, apparently, is to exploit the not infrequent coincidence on the stock market of low share prices and high asset values: buy in the shares at knockdown prices, wait for take-over bids, and then sell dear. Should this ploy fail then the companies themselves can be bought at bargain-basement prices and the assets sold off. (See David Philip, “Moving in for the kill”, New Statesman, 29/1/82.)

What, it may be asked, is à Court inheriting? Well, for one thing. The Muppets, and for another, Jesus of Nazareth — mortgage on future sales? £22.7 million—an awful lot of loot for some of the most puerile and patronising codswallop ever passed off as “entertainment” to a punch-drunk, unresisting public. This, however, is not all. Along with the papier-maché and the pseudo-religious we have ACC assets variously estimated at between £50-100 million, taken over for £15.5 million, the sum Holmes à Court paid for 51 per cent of the non-voting shares of the company. These assets include Classic Cinemas. Stoll Moss Theatres, Northern Song (which holds copyright on many Lennon and McCartney songs), Bentray Investments, Elstree Studios, Central TV and Jetsave, the travel company.

As will be appreciated, there is a great deal more to these unlovely shenanigans than is necessary or possible to describe here. The question is: where does all this leave us of the working class? One thing is certain: we’re unlikely ever to find out if we never venture deeper than, say, the surface of our television set. There are the very soundest of reasons we owe it to ourselves to subject, not merely television, but the communications business in its entirety, to the closest and most critical scrutiny. Take the political and economic nature of its ownership and control. We hear enough from our masters and their lackeys about state control of the means and content of media communication in so-called communist countries, most of it no doubt true enough. But the clear inference is that our own media is free from such domination—which is manifestly untrue.

But even if there were no state control—which there clearly is in the way senior appointments are made, or in funding—the media under capitalism would still find itself in the strait-jacket of business interests. Anything that runs counter to these interests is bound to be circumscribed, or mutilated, or banned—in a gentlemanly fashion, of course, behind closed doors, and with an oily smile. After all, what millionaire is willing to allow a fundamentally dissentient voice a chance to be heard, and heard regularly, exposing that same millionaire and the system that spawned him to the penetrating criticism of an informed and hostile working class viewpoint?

To confine ourselves to TV and Radio: if we accept the necessarily innocent abstractions of music, and the coded, less menacing, language of the more adventurous broadcast theatre, what are we left with? It is an unremitting diet of the innocuous, the banal, the slanted, the censored, the hypocritical, the chummily familiar or ingratiating, the half-true and the bare-faced lie. When the inevitable industrial disputes happen we see and hear, with monotonous regularity, ordinary working people and union leaders alike subjected to thinly-veiled hostility from front persons who have evidently never recognised their own status as members of the working class, leave alone forgotten it.

Then we have the other side of the coin. Tune in of a morning to the likes of Brian Redhead and his mates and note the manner in which they deal with, say, the Secretary of State for Employment, or the Chairman of the CBI. And then compare it with their approach to some underpaid, undereducated, relatively inarticulate striker. It never fails to leave a thoroughly nasty taste in the mouth of one listener, at least. As the Glasgow University Media Group has discovered, bias in the media can be disarmingly subtle, as can obsequiousness, or politically loaded hostility. But our own carefully analytical listening and viewing can usually reveal more than enough to put us on our guard.

By the same yardstick it is instructive to study, as objectively as rising irritation and frustration will permit, those programmes—usually televised—which purport to give a voice to “the people". Watch how, after suffering perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes of anodyne and unproductive opinionating, somebody “starts” something by putting a provocative spoke in. Jill Tweedie, in a revealing piece for the Guardian of 1 February, has asserted that these people are “plants” put there to wake things up a bit. This may or may not be true: what is worth noting is that rare occasion when a genuine “uncooperative” strikes home with something slightly more fundamental or politically embarrassing. Watch how the “chairperson” adroitly, and with the assiduous co-operation of the cameramen and sound-technicians, manages to beat a diplomatic retreat. Of course, as that notorious scourge of the Establishment Robin Day would confirm, such undemocratic antics can be suitably recognised and rewarded.

Our message is plain. Workers can and must make the effort correctly to interpret, in the light of their own experience, the gigantic con-trick that is being swung on them, not only by the likes of Grade and Holmes à Court, but by the equally dangerous, if urbane and discreet, ex-public schoolboys of the BBC’s upper echelons. The swindle is perpetrated for two main reasons. The first, and most obvious, is to make money. The second less apparent but not less insidious—is that, under capitalism, the bulk of the media in general, but the broadcasting media in particular, is obliged to play the role of “Our Masters’ Voice”.
Richard Cooper

The Case Against the Profit System (1996)

From the March 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard

We are living in a world which has the resources to satisfy the material needs of every man, woman and child on the planet. We could produce enough food to feed everybody adequately and enough houses to house everybody properly. We could have a fully-comprehensive health care service, pollution-free industry and pollution-free towns.

All this is technically possible. The resources are there. The factories are there The people with the skills are there. But it doesn’t happen. It doesn’t happen because we are living in a class-divided society where the aim of production is not to satisfy people’s needs but to make a profit.

The basis of present-day society is the concentration of the ownership and control of productive resources into the hands of a small minority of the population, no more than 5 percent in any of the countries into which the world is artificially divided. They form a privileged class, since they are in a position to say to the rest of the population: “This is my farm, or my factory, or my office, and you can’t use it unless there’s something in it for me.”

That “something in it for them” is profit, financial profit, which is a tribute levied on labour by property. It is in fact the basis of the whole economic system that exists today. Making a profit—for the privileged few who exercise a class monopoly over productive resources—is the overriding purpose of production. It is the reason why production is undertaken. It is also the reason why production is not undertaken.

The basic economic law of the Profit System is “no profit, no production”. Defenders of profits see profit-making as an incentive to produce, as what makes the economic system go round. To a certain extent this is true, but it also restricts and distorts what is produced to what is profitable.

The reason why there are tens of thousands of homeless people in Britain and why there are millions of others who are living in accommodation which is regarded even by the government’s own low standards as “unfit for human habitation” is not because we couldn’t build or upgrade enough houses for them. It is because it is not profitable to do so.

The income of those facing an acute housing problem is too low to allow them to be able to afford even minimally adequate housing. And no building firm is going to build houses or flats if it can’t sell or rent them out at a profit. So the homeless and the badly houses go without— despite the fact that the resources to solve their problem exist. In fact, at the moment, there are huge stockpiles of unused building materials lying around and well over a quarter-of-a-million building workers who are unemployed.

On a world scale, it is for the same reason that there are millions of people who are starving or suffering from starvation-related diseases. This is not because enough food to feed them can’t be produced. After all, in Europe farmers are being paid millions to take their land out of agricultural production; in other words, not to grow food. It is, once again, because it is not profitable.

It is not profitable to produce food for people who desperately need it but cannot afford to pay for it. If you haven’t go any money, or enough money, your demand doesn’t count. You don’t constitute a market, so your needs are ignored.

That’s the way the capitalist system works and there’s nothing that can be done to change it. At one time there were people around who used to say: “the government can intervene; it can provide the things that the market won’t provide”.

To a certain extent the government does do this. It does pay for services—like roads, education and basic health care— which are essential to the smooth running of the capitalist economic system. But what these reformists overlook is that the government has no independent source of income. Every penny it spends has to come from taxation or from borrowing. And, in the end, taxes fall on property and profits.

But profits are what makes the economic system go round, so the government must allow them to be made. This places a severe restriction on how much they can raise by taxes and so on how much they can spend. This is why governments are always short of cash; why they are only able to spend minimum amounts on public services and welfare payments.

So, a crumbling health service and under-the-poverty-line payments to the old, the unemployed and the sick is another aspect of profits coming before needs under capitalism.

Profits First, People Second is not an aberration of the system. It is the system working normally. And it is why Socialists say that it is pointless trying to patch up and reform capitalism. It must be abolished altogether and replaced by a new system, founded on a completely different basis—common ownership, democratic control and production for use not profit.
Adam Buick