On the occasion of the centenary of the Great Socialist October Revolution, on the 6 November on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, CPB General Secretary Robert Griffiths was invited to speak amongst a barrage of anti-communist propaganda. Rather than countering the inevitable and obvious attack with a defense of communism and the Soviet Union, he merely added that “we have had to make a very serious analysis of what went wrong in the Soviet Union… we have to take seriously the reasons as to why in the end that system was not sustainable.” He then goes on to say that we need to replace British capitalism with a “fairer society”. Having just described communism, which was immensely successful in the Soviet Union, as “unsustainable” Rob now leaves us wondering what British capitalism could be replaced with?
It is an undeniable reality, accepted by anyone who pays the concept any amount of attention, that unemployment is an inherently negative thing. It perpetuates poverty, forces people to use the welfare system and puts certain parts of the younger generation at an inherent disadvantage. So then, why hasn’t this problem been solved?
The Causes of Unemployment
Why does unemployment exist? Is it lazy people, too stupid to get a job, as tabloids would love you to believe?
Of course not. Anyone who has ever tried to get a job knows that it is immensely difficult to find one, and that if you do, the terms of the job are so awful that it’s not worth going to it, often with mindless, repetitive labour for minimal pay on zero hours contracts.
The reason for unemployment is capitalism.
The capitalists, those who control employment and can assign jobs at their discretion, use unemployment as a tool of subordination and repression/ By having their reserve army of the unemployed, they can intimidate those who do have jobs – go on strike, demand a raise or do anything your boss doesn’t like and you can be replaced immediately by the 4.3% of the population who don’t have a job, and who are forced to live on a pitiful benefits allowance that can be as low as £50 a week.
This forms division among the masses as well. Those who do not have a job resent those who do, and those who do have a job hate the unemployed for being a threat to their job. Right wing media publications such as the Daily Mail and Telegraph love to capitalise on this, with regular articles about ‘benefit scroungers’ and ‘habitual slackers’, to whip up the hysteria of division among the working class; to distract the workers from their reals enemies – those who enforce this system of unemployment.
Young people are told that to get a job in today’s age is “a great opportunity”, something that you should be grateful for, for the wonderful benevolence of the corporate billionaire for allowing you to earn £5.50 an hour. Young people are some of the least represented in unions – only 2.9% of workers aged 16-20 are unionised – and so the capitalists are free to do with them as they please, underpaying and overworking young people in unsanitary and unsafe conditions.
How Unemployment can be Solved
How do we get rid of unemployment once and for all, how can we make sure that everyone who’s fit to work has a job that pays them fairly, that guarantees them workplace rights and that gives them a friendly community in the workplace?
Let us first get rid of any doubt: Capitalism can not, and will not, solve this problem for any period of time. Any reductions in unemployment rates under capitalism are only temporary. For the very reasons discussed above, it is simply against all interests of those who, like parasitic puppet masters, pull the strings of the system in all ways.
The masses cannot put their hopes in shallow reforms promised by such sycophants as the Labour Party, who promise long-lasting change but consistently fail to deliver. We must look to an altogether more radical solution.
There is only one system which could even possibly give a guaranteed future of full employment, which has full employment as one of its core and unchangeable principles,and which looks for the masses to rule themselves, as opposed to being represented and repressed by silver spoon millionaires who’ve never done a day’s work in their lives. That system is Socialism.
Socialists, through our understanding of the workings of society, consider employment not to be a mere privilege, bestowed upon those who suck upon the wretched boot of Capital in a humble enough manner, something to be rightfully restricted from the rabble of society, but a right, one which should be afforded to all who wish to accept it. We believe employment to be as much of an unalienable right as any other freedom. This belief of ours leads us to strive for, and succeed in, giving all people the opportunity for employment.
Real World Examples
The first example we will deal with is the UK, a nation strangled by the clutches of Capital, using their unemployment statistics for the last three years.
In January 2014, the UK’s percent unemployment was: 6.8%
In January 2017, the UK’s percent unemployment was: 5.5%
In January 2016, the UK’s percent unemployment was: 5.1%
While, granted, this is going down, that is following the worst recession since the Great Depression, so the magnitude must be placed in the context of that. It is also poignant to note that while this statistic may be low-ish now, the Capitalist unemployment rate is a fluctuating mess. For one quick example, The unemployment rate in the mid 1980s was as high as +12%!
Now, time to contrast that with the percent unemployment of the USSR, a nation which could, to a certain extent, boast a liberating Socialist system. Their unemployment, on average, after the development of Socialism, was only 1.5%. And this employment was in favour of the workers: prior to the October Revolution, the average working day in Russia was 11.5 hours, after it, it was 8 hours, and for higher pay.
Women were given equal rights to men, and active steps were taken to allow more women to enter the workforce, by providing free nurseries and daycares, community dining rooms and laundrettes, in order to free women from the domestic drudgery to which the patriarchal system of Tsarism had condemned them to. While women in the West were still fighting for basic human rights (marital rape wasn’t made illegal in Britain until 1991!) Soviet women were protected by the law and given absolute equality to men in all fields.
Unemployment was so low in the USSR, and employment so fruitful, because it was built by the workers for the workers, it was a socialist state.
How, in the face of such an overwhelming disparity, could anyone claim Capitalism can, or that Socialism cannot, solve the dreaded issue of unemployment?
Unemployment cannot end without the death of capitalism and the building of a new system superior to it in every way. We must cease putting our faith in parliamentary Etonians and start putting our faith in ourselves – we can build a system where jobs are available for all who can work and where even the lowest paid job can sustain us comfortably. It is not a case of we could – it is a case of we must.
Many people on the left are unable to explain why people from oppressed nations seemed to lend some support to Donald Trump in his election campaign. Confronted with the problem that they can’t blanket label all these governments racist, as many did to Trump supporters in America, refusing to explain Trump’s serious problems in order to fit a Clintonite liberal policy. What reasons could there be, when racism is no longer the answer, to why oppressed peoples around the world supported the Trump campaign?
When I visited Cuba I was chatting to a tour guide about politics (he was a big fan of his government and the Communist Party of Cuba), and he told me that he personally had hoped Trump would win the election, his reasoning being that Trump as a businessman might be more inclined to end the blockade, as it has a negative effect on the American economy as well as the Cuban; from a purely economic perspective it is bad for business.
Figures who no-one could accuse of having a love for America, such as Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad and Robert Mugabe, and their respective governments, released statements that might seem to favour a Trump victory in the election. Even press releases from Chinese state media and the DPRKorean KCNA, prior to the election, favoured Trump.
The reason for this is Trump’s campaign promises. There was a lot of hysteria in America particularly about some of his proposed policies, accusing them of being racist, correctly so, as they were very racist. But he also advocated for isolationism, and end to sanction-based dealings, promising even to return all American troops to American soil. Syrian people on the whole would much rather they weren’t allowed to go to the US than the US continue their campaigns of mass destruction in Syria, for example. While a proposed border wall is a racist suggestion, it pales in comparison, racism-wise, to military excercises in occupied Southern Korea, economic support of the fascist Ukranian government and economic and military support of the fascist Israeli government, etc.
It is not that Trump promised these because he was an anti-imperialist, rather he was courting an American-exceptionalist audience who believed that America’s foreign campaigns actually benefited the rest of the world and wasted US resources.
Of course, he has backpedalled heavily on almost all of his promises, intensifying sanctions on the DPRK, Cuba and Venezuela, and continuing the war in Syria and funding for Israel.Why has he done this? Either he is a cold, power-hungry manipulator who deliberately courted a large alt-right audience to achieve presidency (and nobody can reasonably deny that Trump’s campaign was fantastically clever; the man achieved US presidency despite every mainstream US media outlet being dead against him), but now he is in power he’s more interested in courting the establishment neo-conservatives. Or, another real possibility, he was threatened, bribed or otherwise coerced into touting the imperialist line.
We must make efforts to avoid the hysteria around the Trump campaign. Saying that he’s uniquely fascistic, imperialist or some kind of satan-incarnate which a lot of people on the left do is ultimately very damaging. The election of Trump has provided us with an excellent oppurtunity to expose the crimes of previous presidents, because a lot of liberals are outraged at his policies but were ok with or usually didn’t even notice similar policies by Barrack Obama, Bill Clinton or even George Bush. Trump is not uniquely bad, he’s not uniquely tyrannical or uniquely racist. America , from its conception, is a state based on racism, and no president has ever deviated from this line. As a matter of fact most of Trump’s foreign policies are a continuation of those of Obama – it was Obama who started the war in Syria, Obama who intensified conflict with the DPRK, it was Obama who signed deal after deal with Israel and Saudi Arabia.
US imperialism is unchangeable, and we in Britain must make every effort to combat it’s imperialism, as well as that of our own government and every other imperialist government, regardless of which figure sits in the leadership role.
Birmingham Worker and the local branch of the CPGB-ML salute the life of Derek Robinson, aka “Red Robbo”, famous communist trade unionist who died this morning. Derek Robinson, played an important role throughout his life in defending the working conditions of Birmingham workers at British Leylands car manufacturing plant in Longbridge through a period of concerted attack on working people by Margaret Thatcher and the betrayal of numerous struggles opposed to these atatcks by the Labour party, not least the heroic Great Miners Strike of 1984.
As the Communist Party at that time continued it’s decline towards eventual liquidation, and the Soviet Union headed for collapse following the total betrayal of socialism by revionism, Derek Robinson holds a place in British working class history as a fighter for the interests of his class in exceptionally difficult circumstances. It was revealed in the years which followed Derek Robinsons dismissal from British Leyland that Mi5 had conspired with revisonists and agents within the old CPGB to work against Robinson and his comrades at Leyland who represented workers at the Longbridge plant. A hate campaign in the local media led by the reactionary Birmingham Mail (which continues it’s anti-worker activities today during the bin strike) was instrumental in undermining the solidarity of workers at the British Leyland factory who eventually were bribed and blackmailed into acquiescing in Robinson’s sacking with the connivance of “right wing” (Labour Party) union officials.
Red Salute to Derek Robinson!
(a fuller and very interesting obituary can be read on the website of labour movement historian Graham Stevenson, the leader of the revisionist “Communist Party of Britain” which still has a small branch in Birmingham)
As we approach our celebrations for the centenary of the Great October Socialist Revolution we find it even more necessary than usual to deal with slander against the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The manipulative elements on the ‘left’, social democrats and fake revolutionaries whose task is to keep the working class from revolt, tell us that violent revolution must be renounced and that we can do things peacefully because we are, after all, a civilised society! Violent revolutions are for the ‘backwards’ peoples of the world who, they must sorely admit, after liberating themselves from colonial domination, imperialist plundering, and their own bourgeoisie, managed to lead the world in development and rights.
But still, the way in which they did it was unsavoury to these people, and objectively they argue for the status quo, with its inherent violence from imperialist war, poverty, starvation, preventable disease, terrible working conditions, and police brutality. Their solution is simply to wish away capitalism while the ruling class directs their entire arsenal at the workers. This is idealist nonsense that has never, and will never, liberate a single worker, let alone a nation or the whole world.