Capitalism can’t afford common retirement age or decent pensions


CAPITALIST Britain is being driven backwards, not forwards by the deepening crisis of capitalism and the policies of the Blair-Brown Labour government, dedicated to keeping bankrupt capitalism afloat.

Adair Turner, the government’s man in charge of developing a plan for pensions, has let it be known that capitalism cannot afford a decent pension provision for all at a common retirement age, and that all that stuff is out of date, belonging to the 20th not the 21st century.

This ex-CBI, bosses’ organisation chief has said that since graduates live, on average, five years longer than manual workers, their pensionable age should begin at 70 not 65.

There will be ‘big gains’ from such a policy, including that many more graduates will not live long enough to see a pension.

The essence of this policy is Malthusian. The argument is that there are just too many people. The implication is that until a series of new wars or other catastrophes snuff out the older generations, pensions will have to fall and the pensionable age be increased, in inverse proportion to the growing numbers of the elderly.

This is the policy of bourgeois despair, and of an out of date capitalism in absolute decline.

There are, however, to be exceptions to this rule. There is to be a class divide. The bankers, bosses, cabinet members, MPs, judges, magistrates, police chiefs, army officers – all those charged with keeping the working class down – are all to have excellent private and state pensions, index linked to inflation.

The Queen’s speech exposed this class division. She announced one bill that would reorganise pensions for the working class and the middle class in the way that Turner is proposing. Then she announced another on judicial pensions. This will ensure that the pensions of the judiciary retain their value, whatever catastrophe hits capitalist society, so that they will be able to repress the working class without having to worry about their own future.

And what of the manual workers? While Turner proposes that their pensionable age remain at 65, the issue is that their pension will amount to a pittance.

The private pensions industry has crashed out of existence and the government is now committed to winding up the final salary pensions of up to 1.5 million public sector workers, many of them manual workers, and increasing the age at which a new occupational pension is paid, based on the average salary over a working life, from 60 to 65.

This will mean five years more at work and a pauper’s pension for 1.5 million workers and their dependants.

The crisis of capitalism is not just destroying pensions. The employers reckon that in the next five years 500,000 more manufacturing and retail jobs are going to be slashed, helping to turn Britain into a cheap labour paradise for the employers. In truth, every aspect of life for the working class and the middle class is being undermined and trashed.

The message being spelt out every day by the government is that crisis-ridden capitalism can no longer afford decent pensions, a common retirement age, better paid jobs, homes and, of course, basic rights and liberties, more and more of which are being ended.

This is a society that is reaching the end of the road.

For workers to have a future, bankrupt capitalism must be replaced by a socialist society, based on the nationalisation of the banks and major industries and a planned economy based on satisfying people’s needs not providing the bankers and bosses with super-profits.

For this to be done the working class must organise a socialist revolution to bring down the Labour government and go forward to a workers’ government.