Today, April 1st 2009, leaders of the G20 nations meet in London. The G20 covers two thirds of the world’s population, 80% of all trade and collectively produces 90% of the world’s income. Their leaders will dine well, enjoy fine wines and strut the public stage. They are here to discuss the world economic crisis and how to solve it. We confidently predict they will achieve nothing.
The truth is that nobody can run the capitalist system. By its nature it is unplanned. Now it is completely out of control. Capitalism is in deep crisis, and nobody can do anything about it. Nobody is immune. Unemployment is spreading like a tsunami. Two million have lost their jobs in the USA in the past three months. Car production there has halved in the past year. Long-established and successful industries are in apparently terminal crisis. Output, and employment prospects, have fallen off a cliff. Unemployment will reach 220 million by the end of the year according to the United Nations – really that’s 20% of the working population.
On the other side of the earth, twenty million migrant workers found no work to return to after travelling home for the Chinese New Year festival. Twenty million more jobless! In Russia industrial output fell by 20% in January alone. We are entering the deepest depression since the 1930s. It will get a lot worse. Unemployment is likely to hit 3 million in Britain by the end of the year.
These ‘statesmen’ of the G20 offer no answers because they are administering the capitalist system which produces unemployment, deep inequalities and poverty for the many as readily as it produces coca cola. The system can’t survive without keeping the many poor. Profound inequality is built in to its foundations. The G20 represents the rich, and is a forum for the rich nations to bully the poor.
Capitalism is incapable of solving the problems of ordinary working people at the best of times. A billion people, almost a sixth of the world’s population, have to make do on a dollar a day. They are in absolute poverty. Around 2.6 billion, nearly half of us, have to survive on less than $2 per day. The poor spend 50-80% of their income on food just to keep body and soul together. Capitalism offers no hope for these people.
At the same time capitalism is poisoning the planet with its pollution and wilful misuse and guzzling of natural resources. Through climate change accelerated by carbon emissions, it even threatens the future existence of humans on earth. Basic resources such as water are becoming unaffordable and unavailable to the world’s poorest. 17% lack clean drinking water and 37% lack water for hygiene. 4,700 die every day because they have no access to clean water, and they are mainly children under the age of 5.
The G20 was formed out of the G7, whose meeting in 1999 marked the beginning of the anti globalisation movement. Really the anti-globalisation movement was a movement against the symptoms of capitalism. It was a protest about what capitalism is doing to the planet, both to its people and to the earth as our home. We must set as our aim the overthrow of capitalism and its replacement by socialism, planned production for social use, not private profit.
The world is more than ever dominated by large scale capitalist industry and large scale capitalist agriculture. Marx summed it all up when he said in Capital, “Large scale industry...lays waste and ruins labour power and thus the natural power of man, whereas industrially pursued large scale agriculture does the same to the natural power of the soil.”
Capitalism has failed. It offers humanity nothing but hardship and insecurity. It is high time we got rid of it.