In the USA, in Britain, even in Japan all the talk is now of economic recovery and boom. But scratch just a little below the surface and a completely different picture emerges - one of longer hours, later retirement, huge personal debt and a growing polarisation between rich and poor. The main European powers have all this and hardly any economic growth to talk of. Michael Roberts looks at the real state of the economy in the advanced capitalist world.
The US and British capitalists are gloating about how their economies are currently growing at 3-4% a year while Europe's big capitalist economies and Japan are hardly managing 2%. However, there is another side to this. Two recent reports show that the US and Britain also hold the record for the highest levels of poverty and social inequality. Capitalism only works for some.
Over the summer, world stock markets trod water. Indeed, the movement
up or down in share prices was the smallest since 1979. That tells us
that investors in capitalism are really unsure whether the world
economy is set for sustained growth (as their political leaders tell
them it is) or not.
The news that Kerry has conceded defeat has just come through. We will
publish a full analysis of the US election results tomorrow. In the
meantime we are publishing this article which looks at the state of the
US economy and traces its long term decline. Whether Bush or Kerry had
won it would not have made a fundamental difference. They both defend
US imperialism. They could not come out with fundamentally different
policies for they are tied to the same basic economic interests. In
fact the extreme similarity between the two explains why Kerry could
not defeat Bush. Any policy based on the US economy as it is today
means one thing: an attack on the living standards of American workers.
To defeat Bush something else is needed – a party of the American
Paying particular attention to the US, European and Chinese economies,
Michael Roberts analyses the real state of the world economy. As we
head into the Christmas season, things are not looking so merry for
Henry Ford had a mythical reputation as a “people's capitalist”, a man who was smart enough to design a car that ordinary workers could afford, and a boss who paid his workers enough to buy Ford cars. Nothing could be further from the truth! The great lesson of labour relations at Ford's from its beginning is that every improvement for the workers was gained through bitter and unremitting struggle. By Mick Brooks
Who produces the wealth and who gains most from its production? In a pamphlet written 97 years ago, John Wheatley described an imaginary court case, with a coalmaster, a landowner and several others being charged with “having conspired together and robbed an old miner, Dick McGonnagle." Its basic class analysis remains valid for workers today as they are still being robbed.
In 1916 in the midst of the First World War Lenin produced a Marxist masterpiece, entitled “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”. With US imperialism extending its domination over the whole of the world, this book is more relevant than ever. Eighty years after Lenin’s death we publish an appraisal of this classic work.
In the 1980s there was a debate within the Marxist tendency about
productive and unproductive labour. Here we provide a contribution to
that debate by Mick Brooks. Although this is archive material, we
believe it will help today’s generation to better understand capitalism
in order to overthrow it.
Behind all the optimistic talk about the health of world capitalism
from Bush, Blair etc, the more serious analysts are worried. In its
semi-annual report, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development announced that it is cutting its forecasts for all leading
economies. It may not happen this year, but the huge imbalance in the
world economy is going to crack.
House price increases are slowing down in Britain. In June in London
prices actually fell. This is the beginning of the end of the house
price bubble and it will be very painful for many families who have
borrowed on the basis of the increased equity in their property. It
will have a knock-on effect on the whole economy as spending is already
Over the past couple of years the U.S. economy has gained some momentum
and avoided slipping back into recession, but this was based on the
increased squeezing of the U.S. and world working class, not job growth
or significant investment in productive capacity. Even if the U.S.
economy miraculously takes off in the second half of 2005, the damage
has already been done for millions of working Americans.