Hunger in Britain

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As the crisis of global capitalism deepens, more and more working people in the centres of imperialism, a lot of whom have been living relatively secure (although not necessarily fulfilling) lives, are being pushed down further into real poverty once again. A parliamentary inquiry has just brought to light the extent of the effects of the economic crisis and rising food prices on some of the most poor sections of the working class of Britain. Among other things they found that:

“The rising costs of housing, food and fuel have had an adverse impact on households’ ability to buy and cook meals. Since 2003 food, fuel and housing costs have all increased at a greater rate than earnings, with food (46.4%) and fuel costs (154%) increasing by a significantly greater amount than both earnings (27.9%)and overall inflation (37.7%). Oil and food price spikes will have contributed disproportionately to these increases. This is likely to have had a greater negative impact on living standards for the poorest households.”

Some key stats from the report:

  • 4 million people at risk of going hungry
  • 272 food banks across big cities and towns
  • 500,000 children live in families that can’t afford to feed them
  • 3.5 million adults cannot afford to eat properly

(Source: All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the UK, Poverty and Social Exclusion project)

And it is the youth of the country who will come to suffer most, as many are not even provided with a decent present let alone any hope for the future.


Out of Touch

Meanwhile the political representatives of the ruling class how out of touch and indifferent they are to the working people of the country. Below are some comments made by Tory politicians (which is of course not to say that the other mainstream parties are any better):

  1. Michael Gove MP claimed Food Bank users were “Not able to manage their finances”
  2. A former Tory Minister claimed “the moment they [Food Bank users] have got a bit of spare cash they are off getting another ­tattoo”
  3. David Cameron PM said Food Banks are “Part of what I call the Big Society”
  4. One Tory MP claimed that Food Bank usage can “become a habit”
  5. Another Tory MP said people use Food Banks because of an “inability to manage money and to budget, addiction to alcohol or substance misuse…”
  6. Tory Minister, Lord Freud, suggested “food from a food bank is by definition a free good and there’s almost infinite demand”
  7. A senior Tory Councillor said Food Banks enabled poor budgeters to “have more money to spend on alcohol, cigarettes”
  8. A Tory MP jibed “how many folks can still find funds to pay for alcohol and cigarettes but not food”
  9. West Oxfordshire Conservative Future chairman  “I have seen some ‘food bank users’ in the pubs of Witney… #priorities.”
  10. Iain Duncan Smith MP accused the Trussell Trust of “Scaremongering”

(Source: http://www.greenbenchesuk.com/2014/01/10-appalling-comments-by-tory.html)


Waste

Another thing this inquiry has laid bare is the amount of irrational waste that is produced by the anarchy of capitalist production and its focus on profit rather than need:

“Just 2% of edible surplus food generated by food retailers, manufacturers and suppliers that is fit for consumption, is currently redistributed. 98% of this surplus food is currently turned into compost or energy, or disposed of in landfill.”

Capitalism is proving once again that it is incapable of providing humanity with its basic needs — it merely gives us increasing impoverishment, homelessness and hunger at home, and continued misery, starvation, lack of clean water and shelter for hundreds of millions more around the globe.


The Future

To quote from a CPGB-ML leaflet:

It is clear that capitalism has outlived its usefulness. The longer working people allow it to linger on, the more we will suffer.

That is why those who profit from the system are trying to convince the working masses that there is nothing wrong with capitalism; that the only problem is the greed of a few ‘fat cats’. But this is like trying to blame blowflies and maggots for the rotten flesh off which they are feeding. Instead, our attention needs to be focussed on getting rid of the stinking corpse of the capitalist system itself.

Working people must take possession of all means of production now owned by the capitalist class (factories, machines, raw materials etc) in order to start producing goods that directly meet the needs of the people, as opposed to the current system, in which even the most basic necessities of life are only produced or distributed if there is a profit to be made.

The capitalist state has been perfected as a machine to prevent us challenging capitalist relations of production and it must be smashed. In its place we need to build a workers’ state, whose main jobs will be to plan production rationally and to stop the old exploiters returning to continue their reign of misery and war. This is the only way out of the mists of darkness.

The financial crisis is not of our making; our work can and will create sufficient wealth for everybody to be able to live well. If capitalism will not produce or distribute because there’s no profit to be made, then the working class must step into the breach to take over production for itself.

By spreading understanding about the real nature of the crisis among workers, our party seeks to help empower our class to fulfil its historic mission of killing off capitalism once and for all and building a new socialist society and a bright future for all our children – free of war and free of want.

Help make it happen, join now!

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Save the Children issue new report: hunger = illiteracy

All the good intentions in the world can’t cure hunger and illiteracy. Numerous reports and scientific discoveries by NGO’s and Charities prove quite clearly that capitalism is bad for your health, sanity, education and all round wellbeing! The latest report from Save the Children reaffirms what we already knew – but if we’re serious about ending hunger and illiteracy then we need to end the system which creates these evils; monopoly capitalism viz. Imperialism! The following has been written by a Red Youth and Communist Party activist as comment on the news story reported by the BBC here.

malnutrition and illiteracy

Last year, in May 2012, Save the Children declared in their pamphlet “Nutrition in the First 1,000 Days” that “The focus is on the 171 million children globally who do not have the opportunity to reach their full potential due to the physical and mental effects of poor nutrition in the earliest months of life.” A year on, Save The Children has issued a new report indicating a direct link between malnutrition and illiteracy and has vowed to take their message, with the backing of some recognized big-wig authors, to London on June 8 for the G8 “summit on global nutrition”. Leading campaigner Julia Donaldson has declared, “Leaders attending this summit have a golden opportunity to stop this. They must invest more funding to tackle malnutrition if we are to stop a global literacy famine.” (BBC, Authors back ‘malnutrition hits literacy’ study – 28/5/13)

All socialists and progressives will be quick to agree with both the general findings of the report and condemn the scourge of hunger and illiteracy. Indeed we commend and salute the authors for bringing such crimes against humanity to the attention of the world’s media. But what must be understood is that this “golden opportunity” perceived by Save the Children, Ms. Donaldson and many supporters, is doomed to abject failure and is nothing but badly misguided good faith on their part. We expect absolutely nothing more than bureaucratic blubber and crocodile tears from the leaders of the G8; for malnourishment and illiteracy are not mere unfortunate side effects of imperialism’s worldwide operation, they are in fact the integral and logical results of monopoly capital’s drive for maximum profit and the inevitable product of a system that protects the private individual accumulation of wealth, a wealth that has been created through hard work of millions of workers in the fields, farms and factories, a wealth stolen and concentrated in the hands of the few.

Illiteracy & imperialism

Illiteracy has historically been one of capitalism’s primary tools in the suppression of class struggle and their ongoing monopoly on knowledge and technology. In the imperialist epoch this process has taken on the form of the technological enslavement of developing nations to their imperialist master’s. No phone networks without Vodafone, no electricity grid without Siemen’s, no medicine without Glaxo Smith-Kline etc etc. No wonder the technological developments that occur in China, Iran, DPR Korea and other independent nations bring the fury of the western governments and their media; incredulous at developing technology in these countries, particularly annoyed by the increasing technical development of the military in these countries, enabling them to defend their sovereignty and independence against imperialist aggression. Does the west really worry that China is ‘exploiting’ Africa? The same west that colonised Africa, stole the land from her people’s and enslaved and transported millions! Worries about their exploitation by China?! Perhaps they are more concerned that Chinese phone networks, Chinese mines, Chinese technicians and engineers are delivering the kind of technological improvements to Africa that will enable her people’s to stand on their own two feet, free of the IMF and World Bank!

Illiteracy & Culture

The indoctrination of British youth, the promotion of materialistic, self-obsessive behavior has driven the working class into blind and submissive moral acceptance of the domination of the idea’s, norms and behavior of the ruling class, helped along by the powerful privately-owned corporate media working in the interests of capital it has become cool to champion “The Apprentice” and decidedly uncool to go against the grain. Empathy with one another and our common struggle has been contaminated with selfish greed, alienating humans from their natural empathy towards one another, our common struggle and our desire to cooperate in a social environment to fix common problems. These natural instincts are replaced by senseless competition and mutual distrust, a pitting of one against another in a battle for survival and a race to the bottom.

The seemingly endless cycle of exploitation of working-class families will continue for as long as the working-class allows itself to be subjected to the orders of the exploitative class. The daily grind and increasing hardships create a no win situation for imperialism. To increase profits to the maximum it must impoverish and drive down the living standards of the masses of people – but in so doing it creates it’s own gravediggers. The only way to put an end to the poverty and neglect facing the 170 million + children talked about in the report, as well as their families, is to put control of production into their hands – into the hands of the working-class. The working class must seize state power and wield it in its own interests.

Socialism and class politics points the way

Take the example of the Cuban revolution. To this day, Cuba is labeled a third world country, despite boasting average literacy attainment far higher than that of its former oppressor, the USA, and maintaining the welfare of the people despite an endless list of items embargoed by the imperialists, banned from entering the country by US imperialism and it’s allies! Against imperialism, against the odds, Cuba has defied what capitalism says is possible and proven that an organised, disciplined and clearly defined working-class agenda is the only way to put an end to the demons of hunger, destitution, illiteracy and cultural oppression that haunt the world’s working class and the oppressed nations.
If Save the Children imagine that their discovery of c+h=i [children+hunger=illiteracy] is new they should look to the example of the Black Panther Party (BPP), who introduced food before school programmes in the 1960’s! Thousands of poor children in their community, who were suffering terrible poverty and malnutrition, and who would normally go to school without a meal were fed by the BPP programmes. The Panthers realised way back in 1960’s America that a hungry child can’t concentrate properly in school, that hunger prevented them from learning and developing, that an empty tummy inevitably led to illiteracy and unemployment! It’s not rocket science.

The way forward

Only the direct actions of the working-class can change the world. No amount of charitable donations and hand-me-downs from the G8 leaders will ever free children from the slavery they face at the hands of imperialism. Only a scientific, socialist approach to running society, a system and state run by the workers themselves can execute the demands of working-class.

The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win!