The Voice From The Back column from the September 2012 issue of the Socialist Standard
The Future Is Bleak
One of the illusions beloved of supporters of capitalism is that although workers may suffer some social problems these are gradually lessening and the future will see them disappear. The following report seems to knock that notion on the head. “Struggling consumers spend the equivalent of one week a year worrying about money as personal debt soars, says a study. With families facing the toughest squeeze on living standards since the Twenties, it found the average person spends three hours and 15 minutes a week fretting over finances. The Which? Quarterly Consumer Report into how we are coping with the downturn says more are being forced to take on new forms of debt to make ends meet” (Daily Mail, 24 July).
Politicians, supported by the mass media are always telling us that capitalism is the most efficient way to run modern society. Inside Europe as the economic crisis worsens that claim looks more and more insupportable. “Some 5.7 million Spaniards, equivalent to almost one in four, are now seeking work, according to official figures. The country’s unemployment rate rose to 24.6% during the April to June quarter, up from 24.4% during the previous quarter. That is the highest rate since the mid-1970s, when the right-wing dictator Francisco Franco died and the country reintroduced democracy” (BBC News, 27 July). Forty years of so-called progressive democratic capitalism and one in four is unemployed – some progress!
Homelessness At Home
We can read every day about the super-rich acquiring a new third or fourth house in some exotic part of the world at some ridiculous price, but less prominent in the media you can also read of less fortunate workers who are without a house of any sort. “The number of households declared in need of emergency accommodation in England rose by about 25% over the past three years, new figures suggest. SSentif, the data company, said some 50,290 families and individuals were classed as homeless in 2011/12, up from 40,020 in 2009/10. But, said the company, spending on tackling homelessness had fallen from £213.7m to £199.8m over that period” (BBC News, 31 July). The plight of the homeless is another glaring example of the class division that exists in such so-called modern, developed countries like Britain.
The Mad House
There are many reasons why we should abolish the capitalist system of society and introduce world socialism, but surely there is no greater reason than this. “An unparalleled number of severe food shortages has added 43 million to the number of people going hungry worldwide this year. And millions of children are now at risk of acute malnutrition, charities are warning. …… For the first time in recent history, humanitarian organisations have had to respond to three serious food crises – in West Africa, Yemen and East Africa – in the past 12 months, according to Oxfam. Almost a billion people are now hungry – one in seven of the global population – and the number of acutely malnourished children has risen for the first time this decade” (Independent, 5 August). Millions starve in a world capable of feeding everyone. Capitalism is a mad house.
Profits Before Humanity
Capitalism is a cruel, unfeeling society wherein profit is much more important than human compassion. “A private care home for severely disabled people put its own profits before basic humanity, a scathing inquiry into abuse has found. Regulators, police, social services and the NHS are all heavily criticised in an official report for failing to pick up warning signs about the treatment of patients at the Winterbourne View home in Gloucestershire. It was published after 11 members of staff at the home pleaded guilty to almost 40 charges of neglect and ill treatment of people with severe learning difficulties in their care” (Daily Telegraph, 7 August). The scandal only came to light after an undercover reporter for the BBC’s Panorama programme filmed abuse taking place after being tipped off by Terry Bryan, a former senior nurse. The footage showed frail and confused residents being forcibly pinned to the ground by groups of staff, beaten, soaked with water, trapped under chairs and having their hair pulled and eyes poked. Yes, capitalism is truly a ‘caring’ society!