Tens of thousands of people will converge on London this Saturday for the Put People First demonstration in the run-up to next week’s G20 summit of world leaders.
The protest has been called by a broad coalition which has come together around three key demands – decent jobs for all, an end to global poverty, and action to tackle climate change.
All of these problems are pressing and, along with the ongoing “war on terror”, solutions are needed more urgently than ever.
Yet they also have something else in common. Unemployment, inequality and environmental destruction are all persistent problems precisely because they stem from the system by which our world is organised – capitalism.
We already know about the misery and hopelessness that come in the wake of widespread unemployment. This spectre now looms again, thanks to a system that distributes jobs on the basis of making a fast buck, rather than on any consideration of our needs.
Why aren’t the skilled workers who are being laid off from producing cars being taken on to produce other things we need?
And why not use a tiny fraction of the trillions of dollars being funnelled into bailing out the banking system to end the obscenity of poverty, hunger and disease around the world?
Because it isn’t profitable for the ruling class – and their insatiable desire for profits outweighs any other consideration, even the future of the planet.
That is why, despite overwhelming scientific evidence that spiralling carbon dioxide emissions are threatening to tip the planet’s ecosystem into catastrophic climate change, governments continue to dither and waffle rather than take the steps needed to save the world.
So the struggles for jobs, justice and the future of the environment all run up against the same enemy – capitalism. And it’s a powerful enemy, one that has “never ceased to be victorious”, as the Marxist philosopher Walter Benjamin once wrote.
But there is one force stronger than the system – the collective might of the people it exploits to generate its profits.
It is our responsibility to come together to fight the system at the root of our ills. By doing this we can realise the potential for a different way of life – a socialist system that really does put people first.