There is a system behind the low pay and the rotten conditions that people struck and marched against this week. Capitalism produces multiple long-term crises—economic, political and environmental. And it is the root of poverty, oppression, war, recurrent pandemics and the threat of ecological collapse.
Britain today has a record number of people using food banks. It also has a record number of billionaires, 177 of them whose loot totals £710 billion. Oil and gas corporations ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Shell and TotalEnergies were this week expected to announce combined profits for last year of over £150 billion.
This war profiteering—feasting on the results of the slaughter in Ukraine—comes at the same time large numbers of people have to choose between heating and eating. There is always money for war, so why not for health and education?
It’s not an accident that this happens—it’s built into capitalism. The revolutionary Karl Marx wrote over 150 years ago, “Accumulation of wealth at one pole is at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole.”
It’s a system based on gross inequality and where a tiny minority benefit. So inevitably the rich and the state seek to weaken the opposition through racism and all the other ways they have of dividing us. And if that doesn’t work, they use violence.
We have to fight every individual battle. Winning change now matters—over pay, racism, abortion rights, trade union and protest laws, trans rights and many other issues. Such battles give us the opportunity to unite and gain confidence. But we also have to go to the root and to fight capitalism itself.
We can turn the world the right way up. How much better would our education systems be if students and teachers ran schools, or if the NHS wasn’t starved of funds and was organised by those who use and work inside it every day?
Why should the tiny minority at the top, the CEOs and capitalists, control the wealth while the rest of us are left to scrap and struggle? This week gives a glimpse of the power to change the world. When workers stop, the source of profit is turned off and key services come to a halt.
Instead of relying on Labour—a party that runs away from workers’ struggle—we need socialist politics based on resistance in the workplaces and the streets. That won’t happen without organisation. Strike and march this week, and escalate afterwards.
But also become part of a revolutionary force that battles individual issues but also fights for socialism. Join the Socialist Workers Party.
Union leaders have been silent