CAPITALISM is not delivering on its promise to raise living standards, Lord Adair Turner, a former head of the business lobby the CBI, has said, recognising the obvious, while he tries to smuggle in the notion that capitalism was ever interested in anything else than making superprofits.
Turner said in a BBC interview, ‘Everybody knows that capitalism is not egalitarian, but the broad promise has been that, over a ten-year period, you can be pretty confident that a rising tide raises all boats and everybody feels somewhat better off, and that’s gone wrong.’ He said of the ‘toxic mix’ of stagnant productivity, falling real wages and rising inequality: ‘The combination of that is a lot of people do not feel the system is delivering for them.’
Turner said sluggish economic growth is only in part a hangover from the financial crisis, observing that ‘The UK economy has grown a bit in the last five years and we have created lots of jobs, but they have been low productivity jobs.’
He noted that manufacturing, retail and logistics have managed to improve productivity through automation, replacing human workers with robots. ‘The workers displaced by technological change have ended up in low paid jobs – Deliveroo cyclists working in the gig economy.’
He saw a future where ‘We should expect to see huge automation and the continued proliferation of low paid, low tech jobs.’ In November last year, he told Business Insider he was ‘increasingly worried’ that advances in technology were undermining capitalism.
Turner made his remarks in a situation where, ten years after the 2007 banking crash, the Office of National Statistics has revealed that the UK is £490 billion poorer than it was thought to be and that a surplus of £469 billion has turned into a net deficit of £22 billion.
This is at the same time as the debt pile of the G20 richest capitalist states has reached $135 trillion, and where the capitalist class as a whole is terrified that a raising of interest rates will bring down the debt mountain, in a situation where, after 10 years of austerity and slashed living standards, the working class will make a revolution rather than allow itself to be pauperised again to try and keep a bankrupt system going.
The last ten years in the UK have rammed home the truth of Marx’s proposition that the capitalist system, which makes its profits out of the exploitation of the labour power of the working class, is not only prone to cyclical slump-boom crises, but has a historical crisis, and would in its development ruthlessly pauperise the working class and create not just the conditions but the iron necessity for a socialist revolution.
What secured relative class peace in the UK in the 20th century was the super-exploitation of its empire. Once the empire was lost the ruling class had no option but to turn on its working class.
It was Thatcher who decided that Britain’s basic industries, iron, coal and steel should be smashed so that the banks could exploit on a worldwide scale, making superprofits. All the masses in the UK could hope for was that some of the bankers’ loot might trickle down to them, in the service industries.
Blair and Brown carried on this policy and encouraged capital to move out of the UK to superexploit the workers of India and China, the new workshops of the world. Now, with the UK much reduced in stature, the masses are being driven via such schemes as Universal Credit back to the early 1900s as far as their living standards are concerned. This has made the working class very angry.
The development of automation and robotics is putting a bomb under the capitalist system, where the rich become even richer and the poor exist through servicing the requirements of the rich, Deliveroo-style. The productive forces are developed to the point where communism and a worldwide society where the axiom is ‘from each according to his ability to each according to his needs’ is not just a good idea but is the only way that human society can continue.
The world crisis of capitalism is rapidly emerging. This historical crisis is demanding that the working class in the centenary year of the Russian revolution carries out the British and world socialist revolutions. There is no other way forward!