Britain: capitalism – on the wrong side of history

A social explosion is brewing in Britain. The pandemic, Brexit, and now the Black Lives Matter movement are throwing the Tory government from one crisis to another. The rottenness of the whole capitalist system is rapidly being revealed.


The world is on fire, beginning with the United States, where the country has been gripped with an ongoing insurgency in response to the racially motivated murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police. “If coronavirus doesn’t kill us, the cops will,” stated Diana Richardson, a member of New York State Assembly, to protesters.

Solidarity demonstrations worldwide have emphasised that the same racism is employed by the police and establishment everywhere, including in Britain. Tens of thousands have taken to the streets in the UK to protest under the Black Lives Matter banner.

In Bristol, the statue of Edward Colston was a symbol of slavery. By tearing this monument down, protestors have highlighted Britain’s imperialist past and exposed the rotten establishment.

Boris Johnson and Priti Patel rushed to denounce the Bristol protesters as “thugs” and “criminals”. When Saddam Hussein’s statue was toppled in Iraq, it was hailed as an act of resistance. But here, the destruction of this statue of a slave trader has been denounced as lawless.

Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, was again mealy-mouthed in his response, condemning the statue but also condemning protesters for toppling it. Blairite Lord Mandelson also crawled out from under his rock to attack “mob rule”, calling for the perpetrators to be arrested and punished.

Most people, however, will not see this as “criminal damage”. Rather, it is a removal of a statue to one of the greatest criminals in British history.

Tory racism

Johnson, who is guilty of many racist remarks over the years, attempted to row back on his initial comments. But he then stated that activists would face the “full force of the law” for acts of violence and vandalism.

Racism is endemic in the capitalist system. Its apologists are the real “vandals” and perpetrators of “violence”. The arrogance of the Tories is breathtaking. They lie through their teeth on every occasion, to cover up their crimes.

Those who have taken to the streets, especially the youth, are reflecting the pent up anger in society. Meanwhile, the super-rich flaunt their wealth: wealth that has been squeezed out from the unpaid labour of the working class; fortunes that have been made from imperialist violence and colonial plunder, passed from one generation to the next.

The mood on the streets is an indication of the enormous accumulation of discontent and indignation that exists against the entire rotten establishment and their system. Black Lives Matter protesters are expressing the anger in society against the injustices and inequalities of capitalism.

Matt Hancock had the audacity to claim that racism was simply a matter in the United States. But as Dawn Butler, the Labour MP, responded: “People are angry in the UK for many reasons. We know there’s systemic racism in the UK. Covid has highlighted the grave consequences of discrimination and poverty. People are angry in this country because the Windrush scandal and Grenfell…highlighted the structural racism in our country. So to say that’s an imported problem is again not listening and shows no commitment to resolving the issue of racism in our country.”

But these Tory politicians can't solve it. As Malcom X correctly said: You can’t have capitalism without racism. It is the rotten capitalist system that breeds this filth. The message is clear, we must do away with capitalism, which fosters racism, sexism and discrimination of all kinds.

Establishment anxious

There is a deep anxiety amongst the ruling class. They are trying to defuse the movement with all kinds of promises. In London, Sadiq Khan has pledged a “commission” to look at removing statues of people connected with slavery. But this will just kick the issue into the long grass.

Faith in the Tory government is crumbling. Johnson’s approval rating has turned negative, as one scandal after another rocks his government. In a matter of days, it dropped from +19 to -1, according to polling group Savanta ComRes. The Cummings’ scandal has added to the collapse.

One recent survey by Opinium showed support for the Conservatives falling rapidly, with the party now just three points ahead of Labour. Just two months ago, they held a commanding lead of 26 points. Overall government approval has turned negative, to -2 per cent, according to data from Savanta ComRes. There was a drop of 16 points in just a single day.

Their ham-fisted response to the Black Lives Matter protests will further undermine their already-falling support. This government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich has become a government of crisis.

They can poke fun at Donald Trump across the Atlantic, but Johnson is no better. Both represent a system in terminal decline. They are heading for the bunker.

Splits and outbreaks

Hancock Sunak Image Socialist AppealBritain has never been so divided in its history. The government itself is faced with splits and divisions / Image: Socialist Appeal

These protests could not have come at a worse time for the capitalist establishment and their Tory puppets. The British economy is heading for its greatest crisis in 300 years. But Johnson and his government are completely inept and incompetent at running the country. It is clear that Dominic Cummings is running the show, and Johnson is simply the front man.

Britain stands out for having the most COVID-19 deaths in the world, apart from the USA. The UK’s figure is more than the combined total for all of Europe, with more than 40,000. This has also exposed the rottenness of the capitalist system, with the poorest sections of society hit hardest by the disease.

Britain has never been so divided in its history. The government itself is faced with splits and divisions. Even Parliament is regarded as a joke – shown by the farcical scenes of MPs queuing to vote. That was the brainchild of Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Father of the Commons. The whole thing was more akin to a pantomime than the Mother of Parliaments.

But as the government dashes to get businesses open, there is a growing threat that a second wave of the virus will break out. If this comes in the winter, it will devastate the NHS. But the Tories do not care. If more die, too bad. Cummings will simply promote his Malthusian theory of “herd immunity”.

Social explosion

On top of all this, we are heading for a no-deal Brexit in the next six months – yet another calamity for the prospects of British capitalism. The pandemic has overshadowed this little affair, which is going to tip the economy over the edge and into a bottomless pit.

Tory hubris brings its own dangers. They are stirring up a hornet’s nest that could bring this government crashing down. They seem oblivious to what is coming. They are in a complete shambles. Even the right wing Economist magazine had to ask: “Is this really the Conservative Party we have before us? Or a new party that simply has the same name?”

Britain has entered a new period of upheaval and crisis. The protests taking place are a barometer of the deep-seated discontent in society. We are heading for a social explosion, the likes of which we have never seen before.

Millions are drawing radical – even revolutionary – conclusions. Capitalism is in its death agony. It is time we put an end to it, and create a new society, not in the interests of the billionaires, but in the interests of ordinary working people. This means preparing ourselves for the British revolution.

Originally published at socialist.net