26 March, 2018


Dormitories at an abandoned Apple factory in China

There is a persisting and perplexing problem in attempting to explain the historical trajectory of Capitalism over its fairly short life!

It concerns the swift growth of human populations in the towns and cities, which infers that they must have come for a better life than they had endured previously, and also that they must have, initially at least, experienced one, in order to both stay and grow in such numbers. It therefore appears that work in the factories of the employers was indeed delivering an improvement in living conditions, at the time.

Yet, the most evident state of many of those city populations, was that they always seemed to be barely surviving, and in the direst poverty. Why on earth did leave their existences in the countryside to commit themselves to descend into the hell of such cities? And, why did they not return to their countryside jobs, when life in the city hit rock bottom for them?

The trouble was their old jobs were long gone!

The farmers were mechanising, and no longer needed the vast army of labourers of the past. And some farms found sheep far more profitable than arable farming - again requiring less labour. And, in the Highlands the villages were being cleared to deliver ever more "pastures and playgrounds-for-the-rich". There were no jobs, and also no homes there any more.

It is, therefore, less of a contradiction, when the major driving forces are exposed. But, nevertheless, for along time there seemed to be a shining light which still appeared to deliver the promise of a better life.

In what later became the USA, such situations were rarely as bad: indeed, such workers, who generally were immigrants, escaping from desperate conditions in Europe, entertained an ever rising standard of living, pretty well constantly for over 150 years! What was going on?

Workers in the USA were afforded a better quality of life

The new economic system did both promise a better life, but simultaneously put every single worker onto the unavoidable task of enriching their employers. And, these are contradictory objectives!

Whilever things were going well for the employer, the life of the worker also was better. But any setbacks for the employer always changed things dramatically for the workers. The employer would sack workers, and maybe employ others at lower wages, gradually forcing down the quality of life of all those employed. And, if the company failed and couldn't sell what it made, it would be shut down, throwing all the workers out without any means of subsistence.

Indeed, such failures were common, so there was ever the threat of unemployment to aid employers in keeping wages as low as possible. 

Workers at Apple factory which has now been shut down

In addition, this system of Capitalism was inherently unstable, and every few years had Depressions when many were thrown out of work, and Booms when things picked up again - but never in exactly the same forms.

Many firms vanished in the slumps, and new ones were created in the booms, but these ups and downs acted most strongly against workers, so even within a steady situation there would always be unemployed workers, who by their presence as such, were enabling the effective control of those still employed. Any trouble from a worker and he or she could be replaced by one of the unemployed!

Now, though conditions vary at an amazing rate, the contradictory state of the Capitalist Economic System has remained essentially the same - it has accelerated and globalised if anything.

Though workers organised into Trade Unions and even developed their own political parties, these contradictions were never removed, and every change benefiting the ruling Capitalists would be energetically pursued until it too ran out of steam.

Occasionally, there would be a Revolution which dispossessed the Capitalist class, but as the dominant Capitalist system became truly global, it could both effectively and severely limit those "socialist" countries from any real success, and by war, boycotts and eventual assimilation, even those attempts were reversed.

Clearly, unless and until the working classes, on a World scale implement many successful revolutions, they will remain both dispossessed and disposable to their capitalist enemies, ever more powerfully in charge!

Empty dormitories at former Apple factory

No comments:

Post a Comment