I am not an academic and I am not a writer and don’t claim to be. I am a political activist in prison. Through three years of absence from political activity I felt like I needed to do something. And the only thing I can do is try and write. I don’t have any access to proper documents and statistics that would be needed to write a proper critique of capitalism. So I have made the most out of what little I could get my hands on. I got all the information from newspapers, magazines, booklets and some books.
Capitalism is based on profit. Creating profit is the sole motive of capitalism. Capitalism is an economic system, involving the production of goods and services sold to a wide range of consumers.
“We live under the domination of capitalist production, in which a large, ever-increasing class of owns the means of production- the tools, machines and means of subsistence- in return for wages” – Frederick Engels
Those who own capital and who are trying to create profit forum a ruling class while the rest of the population make up a class of waged workers.
The capitalist class or bourgeoisie, own the means of production (factories, machines, etc) and distribution (shops, banks, etc). Workers work for them to earn a wage. The capitalist needs the worker, the work needs the capitalist. Although capitalist and worker are dependent on each other, the dependency is highly unbalanced. The relationship between the capitalist and worker is an exploitative one, since the worker has little or no control over their labour and employers are able to generate profit by appropriating the product of the workers labour.
“Wages are the sum of money paid by the capitalist for a particular labour time or for a particular output of labours….
Labour power is therefore, a commodity which its possessor, the wage worker sells to capital. Why does he sell? In order to live.”
In order for people to live they have to work. If they don’t, they will have no money. The capitalist needs workers to work on whatever it may be the capitalist wants built or produced. Whatever is built or produced, the capitalist will sell the product for the sole purpose of making a profit. The capitalist will pay the worker a wage for the workers labour. The capitalist in a sense buys the workers labour off him. If the worker works in a factory making doors, he may get £500 a week from his employer for his “labour-time” for the weeks work. In that week the worker may have made 50 doors. The capitalist sells the doors for £300 each. The capitalist has received £15,000 for the doors. He then has to pay the worker £500 for the workers “labour-time”. The capitalist then has to pay out a £5000 for wood, materials and wear and tear of machines and tools. The capitalist is left with £9,500 profit. This profit is called “surplus value”. It cost £5000 for the materials to make the doors, so there was £10,000 worth of “labour-time” put into making the doors. But the worker only got £500 for working the week. £500 would only be a few hours “labour-time”. So why did the worker only get £500 for working for the week? Because the capitalist owns the factory and the tools and materials. The capitalist profits because he owns the means of production.
Capitalists have to compete with each other to sell their products. In order to survive they have to provide products cheaply and efficiently as possible. They do this by buying materials and labour as cheap as possible. In some cases they may go to a poor country and set up their business. The capitalist will make more of a profit setting up a factory in India, than he would by setting up in Ireland. Big capitalist companies and corporations like Nike, Coca Cola, etc do this.
Capitalism can also create racism. For example in Ireland during the “Celtic Tiger” years, there were a lot of immigrants coming into the country trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. Capitalists took advantage of these immigrants. They were getting paid low wages and working long hours. The immigrants didn’t have a choice. For them it was starve or work. Some immigrants were getting hired over Irish workers, because of this. This is one of the ways how bosses and capitalists can keep workers wages low and keep them low. This is how people end up living in poverty or become at risk of living in poverty. The bosses and capitalists try their best to keep wages low as possible while at the same time trying to get as much work as possible from the worker.
As capitalism has developed over the last three hundred years, free competition, which is a major factor of capitalism, makes production more concentrated and this leads to “monopoly capitalism”. This means that fewer capitalists have taken more of the market in which the product is sold. One example of this is supermarket chains like Spar. There use to be small corners shops in every town in Ireland, now the small family owned shops have to close down because the new supermarkets like Spar or Tesco get most of the customers because the supermarkets sell more products and sell products at a lower price. Another example is, let’s say fifty years ago there were one hundred companies selling a certain product. As time goes on some of the companies will develop the product cheaper than some of the other companies, and because the companies make the product cheaper they will knock the other companies out of the market and get more of a profit since there product sold more, because it is produced cheaper and more efficiently.
Capitalism at its highest form is called “imperialism”. This type of capitalism involves massive companies, corporations and banks. Some have so much wealth and power they can influence countries. For example the Shell Company has taken over oil and gas fields in different countries all over the globe including Ireland. The profit that is created from the selling of the oil and gas is kept by the Shell Company, instead of the country where the oil and gas came from.
Another example of imperialism is the I.M.F. The I.M.F gives loans to some countries knowing perfectly well that the country won’t be able to pay the loan back to the I.M.F. So then the country has to sell off its assets and resources so it can pay the I.M.F back. In the Free State of Ireland the E.U and I.M.F have given loans to the government. The government is not using the loans to help the people of the Free State, but is using the loans to pay European banks back debts that the banks of the Free State own. This debt is private debt, not public debt. This means private individuals created the debt and not the people of the Free State. So why is the government paying back a debt that the public of the Free State did not create? I will try to answer this question later on.
As part of conditions the EU and IMF gave to the Free State government for the loan, the government had to cut public wages, social benefits, education and health care. The government are “considering the potential for asset disposals in the public sector, including commercial state bodies in view of the indebtedness of the state”. The Government is considering the sale of state owned companies. All of these state owned companies are critical and profitable to the people of the Free State. The money that is created by these state owned company’s goes back into the country. Public services have been cut, housing, social welfare, education and health care. Taxes have increased. All of this is because the I.M.F and E.U. dictated it. The Free State is living in an I.M.F and E.U. dictatorship. The I.M.F and E.U tell the Government if they don’t make these cuts they will not give the government loans.
This has been happing to countries all over the word. Ireland has still not seen the worst of it yet. Imperialism is the reason why there are famines in Africa and it is the reason why African countries are so poor. Africa is a poor content, not because there is no wealth but because of imperialism, different banks, corporations and companies suck all the wealth out for themselves like a vampire. What happened recently in South Africa, workers protesting for better pay got murdered by the police. Who owned the mine where the protests were happing? It is owned by a British company. This is another example of how imperialism works. Set up a company and pay the workers pittance and take all the wealth generated from the natural resources out of the country. Imperialism takes all resources and raw materials out of countries.
It happens in South America, Africa, middle east, it happens all over the world. The reason there is so much wealth in the US, Britain and some European countries is because the rest of the world is poor. This does not mean that everyone in these countries is rich. Only a fraction of the population of these countries is rich. With the recent and ongoing revolutions in the Middle East, you can be sure the US; British, European imperialism will be licking their lips, hoping that the new governments will be foolish enough to accept “help” from them. The imperialists call this “help”, “finical aid”.
“Global capitalism today is barbarism for huge sections of humanity, condemned to hunger, homelessness, perpetual war, and occupation. But the other side of globalization, the struggle for social justice, can also be seen: in the rebellion against neo-liberalism in Latin America; in the mass May Day protests of immigrant workers in cities across the United States; in the continuing Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation; in the growing anti war sentiment of US soldiers who return “home to find need and misery while billions are heaped up in the hands of a few capitalists.” And this is Luxemborg’s most important lesson for today: “In this moment lunacy and war orgies, only the resolute will to struggle of the working masses, their capacity and readiness for powerful mass actions, can maintain world peace and push away the menacing world conflagration.” – Helen Scott
War is an indispensable feature of capitalist development. The US, Britain and some EU countries owe the rise of their capitalist development to wars, economic and military.
“As long as there were countries marked by internal political division or economic isolation that had to be destroyed, militarism played a revolutionary role, considered from the view of capitalism”. –Rosa Luxemburg
All modern wars have been fought only for finical gain. In Libya the resent revolution there was fought by the Libyan people for genuine reasons, but the British and French states helped the rebels not because they felt sorry for the people of Libya. They helped the rebels with military aid, Special Forces units and air support because Libya has lots of oil fields.
Since the overthrow of Gadaffi’s regime the N.A.T.O imperialist backed militias are largely out of control robbing, murdering and torturing people. There are 8,000 people still missing and 8,000 government supporters are in prison run by militias, many have been murdered.
“On 2 March the UN International Commission of inquiry on Libya published its second report. There is no mention of the former Libya government planning to massacre civilians, no evidence of ‘what may amount to crimes against humanity’, used by N.A.T.O to justify its attack”.
IN Syria it is the imperialist strategy to destabilise the government and replace it with the Syrian National Council and Free Syrian Army. For the Syrian people this means enforced poverty and Deepening sectarian division. The Free Syrian Army is sponsored by the US, British and French imperialists. US, British and French special forces have been deployed to train and arm the Free Syrian Army with high-tech arms and equipment.
“No more than 30 per cent of the people are involved in the resistance. The other 70 per cent, if not actually with the regime, are silent, because it is not convincing to them, and especially after what happened in Iraq and Libya. These people want reforms, but not at any price. Fighting on the side of imperialism is not how the Syrian people will free themselves from bourgeois oppression of the Ba’athist government.”
The only thing stopping a full scale invasion in Syria from imperialism is Russia and China.
There is Al Qaeda affiliated groups fighting alongside the Free Syrian Army and they are also being armed by the imperialist countries. It is an old tactic used by imperialist countries. It was a tactic used in Vietnam, the US armed South Vietnam. When South Vietnamese could not stop the communist guerrillas the US actually invaded the country. The US also armed Afghan fighters in the war against the Soviets. From the second half of the 20th century to now, the imperialist countries has armed, trained and gave financial support to lots of “terrorist” organizations for the soul reason of destroying regimes that don’t suit them. This is the way most wars are fought in modern times. Instead of countries invading other countries, now imperialist countries will try to ether bankrupt countries through the use of loans or if that fails they will finance groups in the countries so the groups can take power. All this so the imperialist country can have influence and take the resources and wealth from the country. But if an imperialist country actual invades another country, when the imperialist army has taken over they will set up a government, the government will consist of people from the invaded country. This government would be set up to administer the regime that will put the imperialist country’s wants first and not their own actual country. This has happened in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Our peoples suffer the painful pressure of foreign bases established on their territories, or they have to carry the heavy burdens of foreign debts of incredible size. The story of these throwbacks is well known to all of us. Puppet governments weakened by long struggles for liberation or the operation of the laws of the capitalist market have allowed treaties that threaten our internal stability and jeopardize our future. Now is the time to throw off, the yoke, to force renegotiation of oppression foreign debts, and to force the imperialists to abandon their bases of aggression” -Che Guevara
5. The State
The state is an organization of the ruling class. The ruling class keeps power over the other classes with the use of the state. The state keeps order with the use of police, courts, prisons, prison officers and army. The ruling class claims that it holds society together with its position by putting across that it does not rule as a class, but is the defender of the common good. But in reality the general interest of the state is the intervention in social life and control over society. In the north and south of Ireland there are two parliaments. These parliaments are set up to give the impression of democracy. Lenin explains best the reason for parliaments.
“To decide once every few years which member of the ruling class is to repress and oppress the people through parliament-this is the real essence of bourgeois parliamentarism, not only in parliamentary – constitutional monarchies, but also in the most democratic republics”
People may be able to vote for whoever they want that is running in an election, but whatever party wins power of government will put the interests of the bourgeoisie before the other classes. In the Free State this has been proven, with all the different budget cuts in social welfare, education, health care, and housing. All the cuts hit the most vulnerable in society. The bourgeoisie has not been hit at all, while everyone else suffers, the people that all ready suffer the most, have to suffer more. And for what reason? So the rich stay rich. This has happened in most European states.
The idea of parliament in the state is for parliament to hold the interests of the whole society equally. But what parliament in a capitalist society does is puts the interests of capital first. In the society in which we live the institute of parliament is democratic in form, it is in reality an instrument of the ruling class.
In times of revolution, when the ruling class thinks it is going to lose power of the state they will adopt extra means of defence. In Chile in the early 1970s a coalition of socialists and communists fought for political power in an election and Salvador Allende the leader of the coalition won presidency. The coalition tried to implement a program of nothing less than the abolition of monopoly capitalism and imperialism in Chile. The coalition was democratically voted by the people. The bourgeoisie and US imperialism was not happy with this situation, so with the help of US imperialism the Chilean bourgeoisie over-throw the government and set up a dictatorship.
In the North of Ireland the British used Loyalist and SAS death squads to keep power. The British used them to assonate political activists and murder innocent people. They purposely murder innocent people so it would sicken the population and turn them against war. This tactic worked. And by assassinating key political activists the political movements fell apart. And by the murder of innocent people it put pressure on the movements. It led to the fragmented movements to give up.
This proves that the ruling class will resort to any means to keep power. Even the murder of innocent people. The history of Ireland proves this, because the history of Ireland is drenched in the blood of its people.
In the Free State the police can arrest and hold someone for 48 hours questioning before they ether release, charge or bring before the special criminal court. The special criminal court is a non jury court with three judges. And a person can be convicted of IRA membership without the police actually having evidence, once the superintendent believes the person is a member of an illegal organization. And in the case of a person charged with another type of offence it is deemed ok for the police to falsify evidence or make false statements because even if the police are caught out in court by the defendants lawyer the judge can chose whether to take it into account, but in most cases the judge does not take it into account. If this happened in another court the case would be thrown out and there could be some type of criminal investigation into police and court corruption. The Free State government broth these laws out for the soul porpoise to protect British imperialism.
“The state is an organ of class domination, an organ of the oppression of one class by another….”
In many countries all over the world, over the last sixty years there have been many revolutions and national liberation struggles. Most of these struggles were against ether US or British imperialism. The British and the US have perfected the use of paramilitary death squads. They have been used to deadly effect in South America, Africa and across Europe. They were even used in the US. The Black Panther Party was organized to defend and help the African-American community. The US government was threatened by the African-American community trying to organise themselves in a revolutionary movement. The FBI (another state agency) was sent in to smash the movement. Death squads were also used to assassinate activists. Many of the BPP were killed or imprisoned for alleged crimes. The BPP were fighting for basic human rights, employment, decent houses, decent education, free health care, an end to police brutality, food, clothing and justice.
There is no reforming the corrupt bourgeois state. The only answer is to create a new system, where it puts people first and not the creation of wealth. This system is called socialism and the only way to reach this goal is through proletarian revolution. But this revolution will have to be permanent, until the people of the world are liberated from exploitation and oppression.
“how close and bright would the future appear if two, three, many Vietnams flowered on the face of the globe, with their quota of death and their immense tragedies, with their daily heroism, with their repeated blows against imperialism, forcing it to disperse its forces under the lash of the growing hatred of the peoples of the world.
And if we were all capable of uniting in order to give our blows greater solidity and certainty, so that the aid of all kinds to the peoples in struggle was even more effective – how great the future would be, and how near!
If we, on a small point on the map of the world, fulfil our duty and place at the disposal of the struggle whatever little we are able to give – our lives, our sacrifice – it can happen that one of these days we will draw our last breath on a bit of earth not our own, yet already ours, watered with our blood. Let it be known that we have measured the scope of our acts and that we consider ourselves no more than a part of the great army of the proletariat. But we feel proud at having learned from the Cuban revolution and from its great main leader the great lesson to be drawn from its position in this part of the world: “Of what difference are the dangers to a manor a man or a people, or the sacrifices they make, when what is at stake is the destiny of humanity?”
Our every action is a battle cry against imperialism and a call for the unity of the peoples against the great enemy of the human race: the United States of North America.
Wherever death may surprise us, let it be welcome if our battle cry has reached even one receptive ear, if another hand reaches out to take up our arms, and other men come forward to join in our funeral dirge with the rattling of machine guns and with new cries of battle and victory”.
6. Poverty in the Free State.
Poverty is created as a direct result of the inequality that is generated from capitalism.
“People are living in poverty if their income and resources (material cultural and social) are so inadequate as to preclude them from having a standard of living which is regarded as acceptable by Irish society generally. As a result of inadequate income and other resources people may be excluded and marginalised from participating in activities which are considered the norm for other people in society”
This is the Free State Governments definition of poverty in its “National Action Plan for social Inclusion”.
The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of the word poverty; “being poor”.
Poverty can become a reality for people who don’t have enough money to do the things that most people in Ireland take for granted. Poverty can be when you don’t have enough money to feed your family, or you can’t cloth yourself or your kids, heat the house, or can’t pay the bills.
Poverty is more than not having the money to buy material things. It can be also mean that you don’t have the money for social activities.
Who is affected by Poverty?
Poverty in the Free State is measured by the Central Statistics Office.
There are two measurements, consistent poverty and at risk of poverty.
Poverty in Ireland 2009
Consistent Poverty 5.5% 233,192 people
At Risk of Poverty 14.1% 579,819 people
In the Free State at risk of poverty or income poverty, means having an income that is below 60% of the mid-point on the scale of income. In 2009, that was an income of below 231.20 euro’s a week for an adult.
Consistent Poverty means having an income below 60% of the mid-point on the scale of incomes in Ireland and also experiencing enforced deprivation. This means not being able to afford basic necessities such as new cloths, no money to buy food or being able to pay the bills.
Some people are at a higher risk of poverty: lone parents, the unemployed, people with disabilities and older people. These people have to survive from social welfare payments.
At risk of Consistent
Total Population 14.1% 5.5%
Lone parents 35.5% 16.6%
Unemployed 24.8% 11.5%
Ill or Disabled people 21.7% 8.8%
Children (0-17) 18.6% 8.7%
Older people (65-74) 8.9% 1.3%
Older people (75+) 16.6% 0.9%
(These were in 2009, the percentages has got bigger since then)
Lone Parents are an over whelming female category. On average they are among the poorest group in contemporary society.
More and more people becoming unemployed because of the grave economic situation. Building sites, Factory’s, Shops, etc are closing down making people become unemployed. And lots of civil Servants are becoming unemployed because of the savage budget cuts in public services.
When a person stops paid work because of retirement it results in a loss of income that many cause a significant drop in an older person’s standard of living. The ability to build up a personal pension during working life is one of the key determinants of income inequality between pensioners.
There are also households where both parents work. But the money they earn goes to pay the mortgage, bank loans and bills.47% of householders, more than 1.5 million people and left with 100 euro’s or less at the end of each month after paying essential bills.
Results of poverty
• Mental illness (including drugs and alcohol addiction)
• Life expectancy and infant mortality
• Children’s educational performance
• Teenage births
• Imprisonment rates
Poverty generated from inequality is connected with life expectancy, poor self-reported health, A.I.D.s and depression.
Children that live in poverty are more at risk to mental illness, than children who don’t live in poverty. Some children will be severely depressed, suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder and some will have an eating disorder.
And for adults living in poverty will have more of chance of suffering from a mental illness. Some will have suffered from a neurotic disorder a psychotic disorder, or addicted to alcohol or drugs.
“So why do more people tend to have mental health problems if they live in poverty? The society that we live in places a high value on acquiring money and possessions, looking good in the eyes of others and wanting to be famous. These kinds of values place us at higher risk of depression, anxiety, substance abuse and personality disorders”.
People that live in poverty will have a lower life expectancy than people that don’t live in poverty. People who live in poverty will have a higher chance of becoming obese because they don’t have the money to buy proper healthy food, they are more inclined to buy more junk food because it is cheaper and you can feed more people with it.
Crime is a social phenomenon caused by poverty. Most prisoners in Free State Jails were living in poverty or were at risk of living in poverty. A study of social background of prisoners in Mountjoy Prison found that “56% of prisoners came from districts in Dublin characterised by high levels of economic deprivation. 80% of these in the study had left school before the age of 16 and there were high levels of exposure to adversity including low parental employment and personal employment, and high levels of personal heroin use. The numbers of people appearing before the district Court who receive custodial sentences is very highly linked to areas of deprivation”.
Social exclusion refers to ways in which individuals may become cut off from involvement in the wider society. For instance, people who live in dilapidated housing estates, flats, apartments, with poor schools and few employment opportunities in the area, may effectively be denied opportunities for self improvement that most people in society have.
There are instances in which individuals are excluded through decisions which lie outside their own control. Banks might refuse to grant a current account or credit cards to individuals living in a certain postal code area. Insurance companies might reject an application for a policy on the basis of an applicant’s personal history. An employee made redundant later in life may be refused further jobs on the basis of his or her age, where that live, and criminal record.
Types of social exclusion:
• Labour market exclusion Working provides an income.
• Service exclusion
Lack of access to basic services in the home, such as power and water, for example transport, shops, financial services and education.
Why there is poverty
“The gap between Irelands rich and poor is at its greatest in 30 years and is continued to widen. A policy briefing by social Justice Ireland shows that the income of Ireland’s poorest households fell by over 18% in a single year, which the income of the richest rose by 4%.
The report suggests that the top 10% of the population receives almost 14 times more disposable income. In comparison, the poorest is experiencing the worst income distribution over the past 30 years.”
The above quote was on Teletext on the 16 July 2012
“The problem in rich countries are not caused by the society not being rich enough (or even by being too rich) but by the scale of material differences between people within each society being too big. What matters is where we stand in relation to others in our own society.”
-The Spirit Level, Why Equality is better for everyone. By Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett
“The evidence shows that reducing inequality is the best way of improving the quality of the social environment, and so the real quality of life, for all of us.”
-The Spirit Level, Why Equality is better for everyone.
By Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett
There is an elite at the top of society who are staying rich even though the state is in a massive recession and some of them are getting richer.
In 2009 alone in the Free State the number of rich people grew by 10%, with an additional 1,800 Irish people becoming millionaires. The number of millionaires in the Free State increased from 16,300 in 2008 to 18,100.
Not all of this elite class are business men, bankers or developers. There are some millionaire civil servants these are secretaries general of the 16 different Government Departments.
“While all Secretaries General took a voluntary pay cut of an average of 14,000 euro’s late last year as part of a salary cap of 200,00euros, they still earn more than five times the average industrial wage.”
-This quote was taken from the Irish Daily Star
The politicians in Leinster house and in the Seanaid are part of the elite class. They also get paid in the 100,000s Euro’s plus expenses every year.
Mean while there are more and more people falling under the poverty line. There is up to 5000 people sleeping rough, there are 100,000 families on housing waiting list but yet there is 350,000 empty properties scattered around the country.
If there are a tiny percentage of people getting richer why then is there a large percentage of people getting poorer?
It’s not because there is not enough wealth in the country, it’s because of the way the wealth is distributed.
All of the budget cuts so far have only hit the average person. Most people’s weekly wage has got smaller; there are schools and hospitals getting closed. Social welfare has been cut this includes old people, children, unemployed, the sick, single parent families.
7. The Cure for Capitalism
Since capitalism is a system the only cure is to create a new system, and that system is socialism. Socialism is a political and economic system. The socialist system is based on collective ownership of the means of production and distribution. This means the economy will be socially owned and controlled democratically in order to meet the needs of all people. Socialism abolishes capitalism and labour as a commodity. The wealth that is created in society will be spread out more evenly. Instead of a minority owning the wealth, it will be put into the use of human need. There will be no exploitation of workers because there will be no bourgeoisie or capitalist class, all classes will be abolished “the exploitation of man by man will have become impossible”. They will be abolished because the workers will be in control of the means of production and distribution. The Capitalist class will be suppressed by the proletariat; since the bourgeoisie uses the state to keep power the proletariat will take state power from the bourgeoisie and use it to suppress the bourgeoisie. The only way this can happen is through a proletarian revolution.
To free themselves from exploitation and oppression the people must overthrow the bourgeoisie. The people need to take over the state and turn the means of production and distribution into state property. By the fact that the workers have taken state power and political power, the old bourgeois state is now a workers state. Since the means of production and distribution have been taken off the bourgeoisie and controlled by the workers state, the wealth that is produced from the workers and the means of production and distribution will be spread out more evenly over society. For example the wealth could go towards things like healthcare, housing, education and many other things that will make life better for everyone and not just a minority.
Just because a state is a workers state does not mean that it is a socialist state. There needs to be true democracy, “proletarian democracy” also, to make the state socialist. This type of democracy includes everyone. Everyone can take active participation in all the political and social processes if they wish. “Socialism guaranties all citizens the basic rights and freedom of organization, speech, thought, press, movement, residence, conscience and religion, full trade union rights for all workers including the right to strike and one person one vote in free and democratic elections”.
Who’s this written by?
A political prisoner in Ireland who is a friend of Barry.
Sent from my iPhone
It’s a great article, inspirational and rousing!
It gives a solid, socialist, critique of capitalism in language that can be understood by anyone. A bit like the ‘vulgar Marxism’ of the 2nd international.
More to come from him/her I hope.
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