LAST week a Tory MP had to apologise to the House of Commons because he had said that the government should ‘let the recession take its course’.
What is extraordinary is that he had to apologise for stating what has always been the position of the bourgeoisie and its political frontmen.
This is that all booms are inevitably followed by slumps, and that the latter are as virtuous as the former, since all that does not deserve to exist perishes, and the system is able to, after a time, lurch forward into a new boom that will itself be transformed into a slump in due course.
After the 1929 crash led to the 1931 crisis, the National Government ruthlessly cut the dole, cut service personnel pay and slashed government expenditure.
At that time, those who advocated increasing pensions, increasing the dole and expanding government expenditure instead of slashing it, would have been denounced as madmen, if not traitors. The recession was allowed to run its course and given a fiscal cutting edge to do so.
There is clearly a difference between then and now.
Before 1929-1931 the working class had already been taken on by the government, and betrayed into defeat by the TUC, after nine days of a general strike in 1926.
Britain still had a huge empire, which it ruthlessly exploited, and was a major industrial power.
The middle class felt secure, remained privileged, and remained loyal to the crown, the empire and to capitalism – it was the working class which took the strain of the three million unemployed.
Meanwhile, there was not galloping inflation in food and fuel prices, so that there was a split between the unemployed and the employed who were relatively OK. The situation was manageable.
Today the position of British imperialism has been turned into its opposite.
It has lost its empire, the middle class has lost its privileged role in administrating and policing that empire, and the country has been de-industrialised, with the majority of commodities in circulation now imported and no longer produced in the UK.
It was Thatcher who declared that manufacturing was outdated, along with the coal-mining industry and that Britain could flourish as the world’s number one banking parasite, with the UK masses working in service industries for pittances.
She never answered the question as to what would happen if the British banks completely collapsed under an unimaginable weight of debt, since such a question was deemed to be stupid.
Yet the almost immediate impact of the colossal US expenditure on the war on Iraq and the US subprime mortgage crisis was a run on the Northern Rock bank, and then the collapse of the US and UK banks, with them being kept alive by a guarantee of limitless state aid, stolen from the working class.
This crisis has now led to the collapse of what is left of manufacturing industry in the UK.
With both the middle class and the working class – over 90 per cent of the population – being ruined, the ruling class has been left with the strategic question of how to prevent British capitalism from completely collapsing, giving way to revolution.
The death agony of capitalism is so advanced that the ruling class can no long afford to let the slump do its job – the state has to intervene to use its power to prop capitalism up and declare that the former enemy inflation is a friend, compared to the prospect of immediate collapse and revolution.
Brown’s measures today are an attempt to buy time, to allow the capitalist state to organise and mobilise for the major repressions that it will have to carry out against the working class in the days ahead.
When Brown said that he would do everything necessary to maintain the banks, he meant it.
This includes using the force of the state to drive back the working class and the middle class and force them to accept a shattering of living standards. Faced with this, the working class must lead the majority of the middle class to the socialist revolution in Britain, as the only way out of the crisis of capitalism.