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Issue #1680      April 15, 2015

Culture & Life

To the scrapheap with it!

If there’s one thing the recent elections in Queensland and NSW showed very clearly it was how little difference the outcome made to the well-being of the mass of the people. Whether the government is drawn from Labor or Liberal, these days they pursue very similar policies with almost identical objectives.

In fact, so thoroughly has Labor adopted the pro-business policies of the ruling class that differences between the two main parties have virtually disappeared. This has made it very difficult for Labor to campaign effectively, since its leaders actually agree with the policies of both federal and state Liberal Party governments.

But how could it be otherwise? Both the Labor and Liberal parties (and that rural variant of the Liberals, the Nationals) are committed to supporting the capitalist system. And since it is the capitalist system that is the cause of all the major problems confronting the people of the world, those parties are by definition unable to solve those problems.

Only by getting rid of capitalism itself can we hope to significantly improve the lives of working people, but no capitalist party is going to do that! No matter how much some capitalist parties flirt with aspects of socialism or even try to reform some of the worst features of capitalism, they are never going to be the means of getting rid of capitalism itself.

People who think that the solution to the problems confronting the working class lies in electing a Labor government and then somehow pushing it to the Left are deluding themselves.

The Labor Party was originally created to represent the trade union movement in Parliament. The ruling class, however, very quickly realised how valuable a pro-capitalist “working class” party could be to the preservation of capitalism itself. So it set out to seduce and subvert the Labor Party away from its original pro-socialist position to the stance it takes today, an alternative, 100 percent capitalist party, ready and willing to administer the country or the state on behalf of big business.

The blatantly anti-working class policies of capitalist governments naturally tended to make working class people decidedly browned-off with the leaders of capitalism, so the bourgeoisie provided them with a harmless alternative: a “working class” party that posed no threat to capitalism. Clever, eh?

The move to remove the last vestiges of working class ideology from the Labor Party, to make it effectively a clone of the Liberal Party, reached its apogee with the accession to its leadership of the US-trained Bob Hawke and his championing of the “Accord”, and its contention that workers and bosses had shared interests. Class collaboration became official policy.

But, as the English left-wing journal Lalkar commented when discussing a 2014 Bristol University report on poverty in Britain, “to promote the Labor Party as an ‘answer’ for workers is nothing other than participation in the massive hoax that is played on the working class every election day”.

The policies of the Hawke Labor government in Australia, like those of all “democratic” capitalist governments before and since, attacked the poor under the guise of helping them. That process has continued and intensified. Aged pensions are already pitifully low, condemning our elderly people to live in dire poverty. And yet governments – both Labor and Liberal – claim they cannot afford to continue to pay even these miserable pensions. The effect of these policies on the people of Australia, the so-called “lucky country”, will be to do to us what has been done to the people of Britain, once the richest country in the world.

The report from Bristol University referred to above revealed that whereas in 1983, 14% of workers in the UK were living below the poverty line, by 2014 that figure had jumped to 33%! Almost 18 million people in the UK cannot afford adequate housing conditions. More than half a million British children live in families that cannot afford to feed them properly. Despite Britain’s wretched climate, where thousands of people – mainly old and poor – die every winter of hypothermia, the report found that 1.5 million children live in households that cannot afford to heat the home.

These are not lazy unemployed who “don’t want to work”, as bourgeois politicians are fond of claiming. In fact, the report notes that “the majority of children living below the breadline have at least one parent in work”. The phenomenon of the working poor has grown substantially, in Australia as in Britain, as real wages have fallen and the social wage has been cut to the bone.

And yet, while poverty has increased in the last 30 years, the wealth of the tiny percentage in the “ultra-rich” category has simultaneously increased. As a small group of capitalists increase their accumulation of wealth – the result of the labour of working people, let us never forget – the great mass of the people are actually getting poorer.

That the system is in crisis has become glaringly obvious, not just to working people but to the leaders of capitalism itself. The reaction of the two groups is very different however. Workers look at ways of changing the system in their favour, a process that leads to supporting socialism. Capitalists, on the other hand, look at ways to safeguard and prolong capitalism and their privileged position in that system.

However, they cannot go on trampling on the poor, appropriating the product of the labour of the working class as their “right” and squeezing every last drop from the natural resources of the Earth, without an eventual reckoning. As the breadth of the “Occupy” movement and other spontaneous manifestations of popular anger show, the mass of the people is awakening. They will not be fobbed off with this lying, rotten system forever.

The day is approaching, and approaching rapidly, when the wrath of the people will spill over, and with Communists leading the way, will sweep the decaying carcass of capitalism onto the scrapheap of history where its arrival is long overdue.

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