Red Youth reproduce on Proletarian Radio this short but informative talk given by comrade Harpal Brar at a meeting of British workers and communists in 1996 on the topic of political economy. We do so to aid the study of political economy which is ongoing around the country in red youth and CPGB-ML study groups at the moment.

The crises of 1997 and 2001 brought untold misery to millions of people who suffer in the ‘real’ capitalist economy – the economy of factory closures, foreclosed mortgages and pension fund losses. There is no doubt that the present crisis is the most acute and destructive in the history of capitalism.

One need but consider the fate of young working-class couples who have just scrambled onto the bottom rung of the housing ladder, only to have their feet kicked out from under them by negative equity. Or consider those workers who have seen their final salary pensions melt before their eyes, after the two previous outbreaks of market turmoil convinced the bourgeoisie that this was yet another aspect of ‘welfare capitalism’ that needed ditching in the battle to protect their profits.

If capitalism cannot resurrect demand through building the debt mountain higher, it must instead try to tackle the other end of the overproduction crisis: it must trash the very productive forces it has brought into being in the first place, thus revealing itself as the real enemy of all social progress.

However, making people homeless, stealing their jobs, robbing their pensions and imposing below-inflation wage deals, whilst perhaps saving the bourgeois hide for a while, can in the long run only stoke up yet worse crises of overproduction, as effective demand is further undermined by the further impoverishment of the masses.

Whether the lords of high finance can postpone for a few more years the decisive crash of the world financial system is beyond scientific prediction. What is clear however is that every ‘smart’ move capitalism makes to save itself from its own insoluble contradictions only succeeds in further tightening the noose of history around its throat.

Even in the midst of the miseries such crises inflict, let the proletariat rejoice in this knowledge and organise to overthrow this decadent, parasitic system once and for all!