Global Capitalist Crisis and the Task Facing the Working People
Global Capitalist Crisis and the Task Facing the Working People
Greater hard times are here for real. Inherently greedy and corrupt, capitalism has once again plunged the world economy and its people into an insoluble socio-economic crisis.
Way back in 1989 and early 1990s, the economies of the Soviet Union and many others that were based on central planning but run by bureaucratic means, started to tumble one after the other. Naturally, in that given situation, the idea of capitalism as the last word in human wisdom and civilization gained a widespread currency. And truly for an epoch, the upsurge of growth in the world financial system for a period helped sustain the illusion in the infallibility of the market dogmas.
In several key capitalist countries, growth of a sort was stimulated in an economy largely fuelled by credit. As a consequence of the rigorous application and implementation of anti-poor, pro-rich policies of privatisation and deregulation, an unprecedented impetus was provided for big time speculation and gambling in the world stock exchanges and financial institutions. Now the cookies are crumbling rapidly.
The level of individual and corporate debts has become so huge and unsustainable, thus creating a basis for widespread bankruptcies of corporate bodies and individuals. In most advanced countries of US, UK, etc, millions of working class people have been losing their houses due to inability to continue to pay their mortgages. At the same time, most of the stocks, hitherto held by people suddenly became worthless as the reality of a stagnating economy hits home. Fuelled by production for profit, the cost of raw energies had risen to an unprecedented level before tumbling back as the capitalist economy plunged into recession. A barrel of crude oil for instance sold at its peak for $147 as against $59, as at the time of writing.
Primarily, as an oil exporting country, the Nigerian ruling class and oil imperialist corporations made lots of fabulous money from oil exportation in the past period. Now at the beginning of a world economy recession, simultaneously combined with financial meltdown, demands for industrial energies including oil are drastically falling. And precisely here lies the heart of the matter as far as the working people are concerned.
Characteristically, the effects of capitalist boom are always enjoyed by a negligible proportion of the people in society. This is true of capitalism, both in the advanced and in under-developed countries. In Nigeria for instance, this conventional disease of capitalism was specially compounded by the especial rapacity of the ruling elite for looting societal resources as they saw no profit in investing to develop the country. Consequently, the state of infrastructural development as well as living standards of the vast majority of the working people remain in the most pitiable conditions throughout the period of the past oil boom. And now that the resources accruing to the capitalist elite have drastically reduced, harder time becomes the lots of the economy and the people.
Every serious economic analyst agrees that not much serious sustainable economic development can take place where there is no stable electricity, water, efficient road, rail or water transportation network. Yet, Nigeria’s capitalist elites woefully failed in this respect during the period of oil boom. When the oil boom was here, basic areas of social needs of the working masses in areas of education, healthcare, employment generation, etc were virtually made the exclusive burden of the working class people and individuals. Now, with the advent of recession, these sectors will be further privatized and commercialized to the detriment of the interests of the vast majority of the people in society. Overall, in the immediate period and medium term ahead, conditions of life in all ramifications, will become unbearable for the vast majority of the working people.
The developing world recession will only lead to further worsening of Nigeria’s current deplorable economic situation. There will be more mass retrenchment, greater unemployment, astronomical rises in waves of destitutions, crimes and violence of all sorts. Of course, there are policies that could be implemented to avert this doomsday’s scenario. However, eternally motivated by pursuit of profit at the expense of human needs, the very opposite policies that are needed to grow the economy and thereby safeguard the interests of the masses are those that are on the top-lists of capitalist exploiters worldwide. For instance, with effect from January 2009, Nigeria’s ruling class is planning another hike in fuel prices as well as VAT rates, etc.
WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
A critical study of contemporary world history has amply demonstrated one point and that is, the mass of the world’s working masses will continue to live in want and perpetual horrors of wars as long as capitalism dominates the society. The developing recession shows that even those sections of the working class that have, temporarily, enjoyed higher living standards will see those gains snatched away in times of capitalist crisis. There is therefore the urgent historic necessity for the world working masses to be politically organized and armed to bring an end to the selfish rule of capital. Unfortunately, the present crop of trade unions and labour leaders do not fully realize and or accept the necessity that capitalism has to be overthrown before the working people can have a permanent respite from hunger, horror of wars and political oppression.
Most labour leaders in Nigeria and internationally still unfortunately look towards or lean on the capitalist elites to provide the basic needs of the economy and the people in society. Despite the persistent self-serving nature of capitalist politicians and their betrayals of the needs of the economy and aspiration of the working people, most labour leaders in Nigeria still expect some kind of miracle to take place among the ruling elites that would enable them rule justly.
Recently, the ruling elite voted jumbo salaries and allowances to all state officials. In response, the trade union leaders merely made a muffled grumbling. They failed to realize that unless they are prepared to engage in serious mass struggles, the ruling class will always ensure that it alone gulps the lion share of the societal wealth. Politically, the labour leaders at central and local levels continue to kowtow to the various ruling governments and employers of labour in their day-to-day activities. This explains why a Labour Party exists in name but in reality, nothing is being done by labour leaders to build same among the working masses.
In the period of relative economic boom, this pro-capitalist mentality and orientation of the labour leaders exposed the working masses to lots of abuses and attacks by the ruling class. Maintenance of same disposition in this era of global capitalist crisis can only produce disastrous consequences on the conditions and the living standard of the working people. There is therefore, an unpostponable duty to jettison capitalist orientation and mentality and instead embrace genuine socialist ideas and policies. On economy, labour must be able to fight for the introduction of a central economic planning, that is based on production for needs and not profit as is the present situation. Because of the considerable resources and creativity, that will be required to guarantee a society where the needs and aspirations of everybody has to be met, the major means of production and natural resources of nature would have to be nationalized and placed under public ownership on the basis of working class democratic control and management of every aspect of society.
Education for instance, has to be centrally planned in such a way that every child will have access to study whatever he/she likes without losing focus of the need to create manpower needed for the overall infrastructural and intellectual development of the entire society. This is something beyond capitalism that would always place emphasis on the most profitable areas of knowledge for only those who have enough money to study. To fully develop the society economically, there would be necessity to train qualified manpower in all areas of human endeavours. On an international scale, and even, given the stupendous resources, which abound in individual’s countries, this is an achievable goal.
To realize these goals and others, the labour movement, first and foremost, has to be transformed from its present docile pro-capitalist entities. There has to emerge new layers of leaders that see class struggle as a necessity and are in fact, prepared to take necessary practical and political steps to take on the capitalist class on every economic and political issue affecting society and its people. We need a new type of labour leaders that will give priority to the development and building of the labour party into a truly workers’ organization with independent ideas and programme, different from the anti-poor ones being implemented by the capitalist ruling class. We need new, conscious layers of labour leaders that have come to the realization that the profit interests of the capitalists cannot make possible the satisfaction of the peoples need in all spheres of activities.
Towards the development and creation of this type of new layers of leaders, the Labour movement needs to be rebuilt from the grass roots upwards. The basis for this is building new layers of activists in the workplaces and communities. The activists should demand concrete action from the existing Labour leaders and, if they do not act, work for their replacement with leaders that will.
The NLC, TUC, etc, need immediately and openly to come up with a comprehensive package and demand for living wage, based on the real cost of living in the areas of feeding, housing, healthcare, education, transportation, etc. In order to build a solid support for this campaign amongst rank and file workers and the poor in general, LASCO and labour leaders must immediately step up mass mobilization through leaflets, posters, meetings, rallies, etc, with a view to prepare for necessary mass actions. We should not wait until the implementation of the anti-growth, anti-poor policies of increment of fuel prices or the Value Added Tax (VAT) before we commence campaigns in opposition.
Surely, the capitalist elements should be expected to oppose this kind of demand, as unrealistic and impracticable in this present era of economic recession. Here, we need ideologically conscious labour leaders, who can give it back to the ruling elite that it is their system that makes mass misery inevitable and not the shortage of resources and wealth in society. We need labour leaders who are conscious enough to realize that prices of fuel would always remain unaffordable for both industrial and domestic use as long as production and distribution of fuel remains in the hands of capitalist profiteers. Consequently, this time requires a new kind of labour leaders that is prepared to fight against hike of fuel prices within the framework of a strategy that fight for the nationalization and working class control and management of the oil sectors. Only an economic sector primarily run for public interest and through working class control and management can make possible the provision of sufficient local refineries that can produce enough and affordable fuel products.
This time around, we need labour leaders that are ready to abandon the bankrupt and futile pro-capitalist approach used to fight recession in the past. In the 1980s, there existed a considerable development of local industries especially in certain sectors like textile, construction, agro-industrial concerns, etc. However, faced with the then economic recession and downturn, most labour leaders adopted a collaborationist approach towards employers and capitalist state. This, they falsely argued, was the best way to safeguard jobs and workers conditions of service. Instead, this false policy only produced a counter-productive result as millions of workers were subsequently laid off by employers of labour after having first brainwashed and disarmed labour leaders from the idea of resistance and fight-back.
The new type of labour leaders this time requires are those elements that are proud of working class egalitarian ideals and culture of resistance to injustice, corruption and political oppression. With a new socialist orientation along the above outlined premises, then, the working class can be placed in a better position to confront the developing world recession. Failure to move in this direction, will only plunge society and the working people into a greater nightmare of poverty and imperialist induced wars and terrorism across the globe.
Movements that develop will inevitably come into sharp conflict with an Obama administration. Events will expose Obama, and Congressional leaders as representatives of big business. As a result the way will be prepared, for a new political and class awakening in U.S. society. Consciousness of the need to break with the Democratic Party will grow. More than ever, the question of building a political voice for working people will emerge onto the political agenda. The idea of a new anti-corporate, antiwar political party, a party of working people, will gain traction in the minds of millions, as ordinary people struggle to find a path toward genuine change, a way out of the economic and social crisis engulfing U.S. society.