With the worst economic crisis in 80 years rocking the world many workers and young people are starting to question the capitalist system. Capitalism, which dominates the globe, is a system that allows a tiny minority of bosses to own and control the vast amounts of wealth that is produced by billions of ordinary workers.
Even before the heightened levels of suffering and misery wrought by the latest global downturn hit, no one could say that capitalism was ‘working’ for the majority of people. Even during the so-called ‘boom time’ 3 billion people, half of the worlds population, lived on less then $2 per day. 70% of the 1.3 billion living in absolute poverty are women and every second child that is born in the world lives in poverty. This situation is getting worse not better.
Even in ‘advanced’ countries like Australia ordinary people were, and still are, being attacked with increasing education fees, rising unemployment, and worsening working conditions including high rates of casualisation and low wages.
This is not to mention the global warming crisis or the brutal conflicts occurring in the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan. And now, all over the world, ordinary people are being told to grit their teeth and bear an even higher burden thanks to the economic crisis. Apparently ‘there is no alternative’.
All of this boils down to the basic fact that capitalism is a system that puts profit before human need. The fundamental problem with the capitalist system is that workers do not get paid for all of the wealth that they produce. Therefore working people can never afford to buy back the goods that they produce. This leads to a situation where more is produced than can be sold, and in turn, economic booms and slumps occur.
One way that this problem is temporarily overcome is by making cheap credit available to people. Obviously this is only a short term solution and at some stage the money will have to be paid back. This is one of the main reasons that the current crisis has been so deep and will be so drawn out.
Because capitalism is a system that puts profits above all else, bosses are constantly forced to try and boost their own profits however they can. This often takes the form of forcing workers to take pay cuts, work extra hours without pay, or work faster.
Bosses also try to have services like education or healthcare privatised so that they can make money from them, and so that they don’t have to pay for these services through taxes. This means that young people and workers are in a constant struggle with bosses over how society’s wealth is used. While bosses attack essential services, wages and working conditions, ordinary people must fight back in order to maintain and advance these necessities.
Ordinary people will never be free of this day-to-day struggle for survival and a decent life until they are free of the system that produces these contradictions. Despite the rhetoric of capitalist politicians, there is an alternative.
A saner system would be based on human need instead of profit. Such a system could allocate societies resources through democratic planning by ordinary people, and alleviate the horrors of capitalism while taking humanity forward. This system is known as socialism, and this is what the Socialist Party is fighting for.
By SP reporters