Thursday, February 29, 2024

Capitalism and the Fallacy of Reform: Part Two

Continued from Part One

Like Bernstein, today’s labour and social democratic parties do not champion any meaningful alternative – in fact, they are complicit in the perpetuation of capitalism. As Bernstein’s contemporary, the socialist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) contested:

“…people who pronounce themselves in favour of the method of legislative reform in place of and in contradistinction to the conquest of political power and social revolution, do not really choose a more tranquil, calmer and slower road to the same goal, but a different goal.” Consequently, their goal is “not the realisation of Socialism, but the reform of capitalism.”

This does not mean we should not fight for change within the system – indeed we cannot suspend ourselves nor exist outside of it – but we must acknowledge that meaningful change can only be attained by transcending the capitalist system. Once this has been achieved and socialism established, humanity must then work to continually improve socialism so that it fulfils its basic mission of meeting the needs of all. Here, and only here, is where socialism truly becomes evolutionary.

Socialists can take some comfort from the fact that, notwithstanding the futility of social democratic attempts to reform the system, capitalism is by no means an eternal fact, nor inherent to human nature. Closer examination reveals that it is more accurately understood as a phase in human development. Throughout history, economic systems have undergone significant transformations, and capitalism is just one stage in this ongoing progression.

In ancient societies, such as those of hunter-gatherers, communal living and resource-sharing were prevalent. The concept of private property and individual ownership was not a dominant feature of these societies. As human communities transitioned to settled agriculture, a shift toward more structured forms of social organisation occurred. However, these early agrarian societies did not operate on capitalist principles; instead, they were characterised by feudalistic structures and localised economies. For instance, Luxemburg demonstrated that primitive communism existed in several societies, ranging from the Germanic tribes, the Inca empire, Algeria, India, and Russia. Collective land ownership endured for many centuries and only ceased with the advent of imperialism and capitalist exploitation.

The emergence of capitalism can be traced back to the late medieval and early modern periods in Europe. The Renaissance and the Enlightenment played crucial roles in shaping the intellectual landscape that paved the way for capitalist ideas. During this time, the rise of trade, exploration, and technological advancements created an environment conducive to the development of a market-based economy.

The enclosure movement in England during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries is a notable historical example. Land that was previously communally used for farming was enclosed and privatised, leading to the rise of individual landownership and the creation of a market for agricultural goods. This transition marked a departure from traditional agrarian practices and set the stage for the capitalist system.

The Industrial Revolution further accelerated the evolution toward capitalism. Technological innovations, such as the steam engine and mechanised production, revolutionised the way goods were produced and distributed. This shift from agrarian economies to industrialized ones resulted in the rise of factories, urbanisation, and a new class structure.

The advent of capitalism brought forth key principles, such as private ownership of the means of production, free-market competition, and profit motive. The transition from feudalism to capitalism was not without conflict, as evidenced by the social upheavals and labour movements of the 18th and 19th centuries. These movements sought to address the challenges posed by the industrialisation of society, including issues of worker exploitation and poor working conditions.

There is, therefore, hope that humanity can transcend capitalism. It requires a widespread global consciousness, an acceptance of the truth that the system we currently perpetuate is harsh and damaging to us all, and that reforming that system equates to nothing more than that perpetuation.

While capitalism has undoubtedly played a significant role in shaping modern economies, seeking to reform it or viewing it as a timeless characteristic of human nature disregards the system’s inclination to devour and oversimplifies the complexity of historical and cultural contexts. Indeed, to do so is short-sighted and demonstrates the dangers of forgetting the past. Human societies have demonstrated adaptability and a capacity for diverse economic systems throughout history, and while no thinking socialist can dispute the transformative impact of capitalism; the extent of technological advancement and human dominion over the environment, one would do well to remember that it does not symbolise the culmination of all conceivable endeavours to organise as a species. To rest on the laurels of capitalism is to commit the mistake of previous generations, specifically those who held up religion, imperialism, feudalism, and slavery as essential preconditions for civilisation. We must take what we have learned under capitalism and use it to build a better version of the world – one based on peace, justice, and equality. In short, a Socialist world.

John Elliston

Part One:

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Socialist Sonnet No. 137

Rochdale Cowboys

(Apologies to Mike Harding)


It’s not hard being a cowboy in Rochdale,

Despite what a song once suggested. Just

Look at those canvassing for the trust

Of voters, with policies bound to fail.

Labour have disowned their own candidate

For claiming the murderous Hamas attack

Israel green-lighted, so it could strike back,

Condemning Gaza to its dreadful state.

There’s an exMP who’s making a play

As representative of Old Labour,

Standing against the ‘woke’ present Labour

On behalf of UKIP, Reform UK.

With the Green off colour, the choice is sparse,

Voters might consider ending this farce.



Boomers, Zoomers and Doomers


Britain is in the grip of a mental health crisis, research says, with 34% of Gen Z workers reporting depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder, up from 24% in 2000. Life is depressing for exploited workers in capitalism anyway, but the prospects for today’s Zoomers look arguably worse than they were for the Boomer generation, or even early Millennials, with gig economy jobs, huge college debts and unaffordable housing, plus ongoing wars and possible climate disaster.

Predictably there are calls for the government to do something. But governments administer the very system which causes these mental health crises. Doom-laden Gen Z workers need to organise a democratic revolution to overthrow capitalism, more than they need pills and therapy sessions.

Capitalism and the Fallacy of Reform. Part One


Recently, Sir Keir Starmer announced his ambition for a ‘patriotic economy’ through the championing of home ownership and the building of new model towns. Evidently, the Labour leader is attempting to harness the middle ground, by blending Thatcher and Attlee. Many recall the faux revolution of ‘right to buy’ which, forty years on, has spawned a social housing crisis. Throw in the legacy of the 1946 New Towns Act, which sought to construct model towns in the aftermath of the Second World War, and you have yet another social democratic fudge to reform capitalism.

Sir Keir is not alone in seeking to reinvent the wheel. Every Labour leader has bound themselves to the yoke of the system. Ramsay Macdonald all too willingly succumbed to the protracted economic crisis of the interwar years, content at playing establishment bank manager in a period of decline. The Attlee Government, despite the strides made in welfarism, struck the rocks, and yielded to the rules of capitalism, laying the course for twenty-five years of Butskellism. Harold Wilson had us believe that a new Britain could be forged in the white heat of technology, but this fire burned in the hall of capitalism, prostrate by markets and a depreciating pound. James Callaghan surrendered what vestiges of leftism remained, implementing the kind of monetarism Thatcher later claimed as her own. Need anything be said of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown – the would-be heirs to the Iron Lady?

No, the British labour movement, like so many social democratic movements the world over, has always been a willing hostage to capitalism, engaging in a futile quest to reform it, rather than introduce socialism. In some respects, they cannot be blamed, for the boom-and-bust integral to the existence of capitalism has attracted many in vainglorious quests to improve it and acquire the eternal elixir of socioeconomic harmony. Many also point to the idea that capitalism has in fact undergone transformations as justification for reform, such as the shift from industrial capitalism to the information age. The rise of technology and globalisation has apparently altered the dynamics of production, trade, and employment. Some have also claimed the attainment of adaptation within capitalism – the Nordic model, exemplified by countries like Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, supposedly combines capitalist elements with a strong welfare state. This model allegedly seeks to prioritise social equality, education, and healthcare, challenging the notion that capitalism must follow a rigid, laissez-faire approach.

However, reformist approaches are an illusion and cannot ameliorate the structural antagonisms which provide the fundamental basis for capitalism. Even in the venerated Nordic economies high inflation and interest rates, youth unemployment and poverty persist. Finland is in recession while the Swedish economy is weakening. Norway, propped up by oil and gas exploitation faces fiscal challenges with high public spending. The message is clear: under capitalism, boom will always lead to bust.

The system requires inequality and the exploitation of workers, else there would be no profit or incentive to accumulate. Over the past hundred years, social democratic efforts to introduce welfarism and redistribution have failed to eradicate this inequality and exploitation. Today, the rich are richer and the poor poorer. The gap has widened, and reformism has served only to pacify the masses so that the top one per cent can acquire more.

Today, the poorest 50 per cent hold only 8 per cent of global wealth, while the richest 10 per cent earn over 50 per cent. The top 1 per cent alone owns 35 per cent of global wealth, takes 19 per cent of income, and emits 17 per cent of global carbon emissions.1 This has occurred despite the founding of welfare states in some countries, free healthcare, state education, social security, and the “redistribution” of capital.

It appears the capitalist system has assimilated social democracy and turned it into a weapon to perpetuate exploitation. Harold Macmillan once said of Britons in the 1950s that they had never had it so good – (hardly an accolade considering decades of economic instability and destructive war). In truth, any semblance of prosperity is nothing more than the offering of more crumbs off the capitalist plate. You may receive sustenance, but the people at the top still get a hearty meal. If anything is true of today it is that the rich have never had it so good.

Alas, social democrats have been hood-winked, in no small way thanks to the social democratic Marxist theorist Eduard Bernstein (1850-1932). In Evolutionary Socialism: A Criticism and Affirmation (1899) Bernstein did not believe in capitalism’s inevitable destruction; he accepted the strength of its capacity to adapt and advocated reform so that humanity could transition from capitalism to social democracy. He contended that as workers attained greater rights, their grievances would diminish, making revolution implausible. In this, he is perhaps accurate. The extension of rights and the offering of the ‘crumbs’ have pacified the masses and encouraged social democrats to continue a long the path of reformism. However, his call for reform contradicts his appraisal of capitalism’s adaptational strength. Everything promulgated within the system is consumed by the system. Nothing changes,

John Elliston

Continued at Part Two

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

More or less about children

From the Office of National Statistics:

‘The total fertility rate (TFR) decreased to 1.49 children per woman in 2022 from 1.55 in 2021; the TFR has been decreasing since 2010.

  • Fertility rates decreased overall and in each age group, except for women aged under 20 years where the fertility rate increased.

  • There were 605,479 live births in England and Wales in 2022, a 3.1% decrease from 624,828 in 2021 and the lowest number since 2002; the number remains in line with the recent trend of decreasing live births seen before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.’

From Breibart:

‘Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that the total fertility rate fell to 1.49 children per woman in 2022, far below the rate of 2.1 needed to maintain population levels and the lowest since records began in 1939.

According to the statistics there were 605,479 live births recorded in 2022, a 3.1 per cent decline over the previous year and also the lowest overall figure since 2002.

The data also showed that the rate of women having children was highest between the ages of 30 to 34, compared to 25 to 29 just twenty years ago, suggesting that British women are delaying having children.

Commenting on the birthrate decline, chief executive of Pregnant Then Screwed, Joeli Brearley told The Guardian: “It is no surprise to us that fertility rates have hit the floor. Procreation has become a luxury item in the UK. Childcare costs are excruciating, and that’s if you can secure a place.

“Our research found that almost half of parents have been plunged into debt or had to use savings just to pay their childcare bill,” she said.

Speaking to the globalist Financial Times newspaper, James Pomeroy, an economist at the HSBC bank said that without mass migration, the birthrate decline would result in the British population falling by 25 to 30 per cent over the next generation. He claimed that a declining native population either needs “more immigration, higher taxes, worse public services or a higher retirement age”.

[There’s a far better solution. Do HSBC employed or any other economists know about Socialism?]

However, Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson of the Women’s Budget Group said that the native birth rate was likely declining due to economic factors, such as the price of childcare but also the soaring price of housing in the UK.

From the Socialist Standard September 2020

‘For centuries, women have been denied the opportunities for personal advancement in the name of religion and tradition. Religious and cultural institutions where patriarchal attitudes were legitimised have had a deep effect on the role and status of women. Yet it is now women who are the key drivers in defusing what was once popularly called the ‘population bomb’. Everything has changed so much that choosing to have no children, or just give birth to one child, is for women just as convenient as choosing to bear two or three.

Globally, the fertility rate – the average number of children a woman gives birth to — is falling below the replacement level and this means nearly every country could have shrinking populations by the end of the century, based on the expectation that women will have fewer children. This does not mean the number of people living in these countries is falling, at least not immediately, as the size of a population is a mix of the fertility rate, death rate and migration. It can be a generation before changes in fertility rate take hold. Although fertility rates continue to fall the world population will continue to rise because the fall in fertility rates takes a while to show up, a phenomenon known as population momentum.

Falling fertility rates go hand-in-hand with better education and more career openings for women and the access to contraception and abortion. When more infants survive, fertility goes down and population growth draws to an end.

The more secure and prosperous people become, the lower will be their family sizes.

According to Wolfgang Lutz, of the Vienna University of Economics and Business, one reason for the fertility decline is women’s education:

‘The brain is the most important reproductive organ,’ he explains. Once a woman receives enough information and autonomy to make an informed and self-directed choice about when to have children and how many to have, she immediately has fewer of them and has them later.

Paid to reproduce
Some countries are so concerned about their shrinking populations and fear of the alternative – a policy of immigration – has led nationalist and xenophobic leaders to introduce policies that could only be described as a return back to an earlier time when women were viewed as baby-producing machines. Across Europe, governments have introduced benefits aimed at stimulating population growth, implementing baby bonuses for each new child and promoting ‘traditional family values’.

Victor Orban of Hungary is heavily investing in such things as cash loans to young married couples. Each time a child is born, payments are deferred. If the couple have three children within the requisite time frame, the loan is completely written off, otherwise they have to pay it back. Government IVF clinics will offer free treatment for all women who want them (just as long as they are under 40 and not lesbians). In Poland, the ruling Law and Justice Party introduced the 500+ policy in 2016, under which mothers received 500 złoty (£99) per child per month from the second child onwards, later expanded to include all children. Russia launched a one-off payment of £5,800 to families with two or more children, with Putin explaining that ‘Russia’s fate and its historic prospects depend on how many of us there are, it depends on how many children are born in Russian families.’

Sweden is one country that used a package of policies including childcare, flexible working conditions and generous maternity and paternity leave packages to reverse its population decline. But the increase to the fertility rate was marginal – just 0.2 children per woman.

As Wolfgang Lutz points out, ‘Once a woman is socialised to have an education and a career, she is socialised to have a smaller family. There’s no going back.’

Fertility rates
Just as the Catholic Church’s anti-contraceptive dogma was blamed for rises in population only to be punctured by women defying their priests, the argument switched to the Muslims, with its emphasis on strict traditional hierarchal gender roles, and it would be they who would go against the trend of smaller families. But then fertility rates in majority-Muslim countries such as Iran, Bangladesh and Indonesia fell, as well.

Now the blame for over-population has shifted to sub-Saharan Africa, suggesting that African high fertility rates with four or more births per woman will not buck the trend and cause over-population. But even here, there are signs of change in a growing number of countries.

Countries such as Nigeria which are struggling to make progress to provide education and employment opportunities and provide quality healthcare should be seen as the last hold-outs against the global triumph of small families.

International agencies found that over 20 percent of women in this region of Africa want to avoid a pregnancy but have their needs unmet by any family planning outreach. It results in almost 20 million — or 38 percent — of the region’s pregnancies each year being unintended. The World Health Organization estimates that globally 270 million women who want contraceptives have no access to them.

Practices such as early marriage, which is associated with an early start to child bearing, are common. In sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 38 percent of women are married by the age of 18. In Niger, three-quarters of girls marry by the age of 18. Child marriage denies girls an education which leads to a lack of ability to find work in later life and so handicaps girls’ decision-making power and their right to choose.

The gap between desired and actual family size suggests that women are not fully able to realise their reproductive rights. But choice can become a reality everywhere, including the African continent. In the past, women in Botswana would have seven children on average. Now they have fewer than three. It was accomplished by enabling women to control their fertility and reducing child mortality rates – moves that almost inevitably lead to them having fewer babies. When more girls attend school, a country’s adolescent fertility rates dip, more women wait until adulthood to have children and are armed with much more sophisticated knowledge-tools to make better decisions for their health and future offspring.

It took the UK 95 years to drop from a fertility rate of six children per woman to three, but it took Botswana only 24 years, Bangladesh 20 and Iran only ten years.

Blaming our environmental problems on population pressures is all too common among eco-activists and it has resulted in a sordid history of top-down population control programmes violating women’s reproductive rights with such measures as uninformed sterilisations. All women should have full access to contraception and safe abortion as part of overall health services. Family planning, however, is not the answer to our environmental problems. Babies and yet-to-be-born babies are not responsible for today’s environmental problems. Reducing population numbers will not stop climate change, nor rising sea-levels. Many environmentalists will cite the fallacious carrying capacity in their argument that we have too many people on the planet but the over-emphasis on individual consumption distracts from industrial and military consumption. Capitalism is the reason for ever-increasing resource depletion, CO2 emissions, waste and pollution. It should be held accountable, not the innocent victims of global warming.

More people bring more ingenuity, more talent and more innovation into the world. Every human born is not just an extra mouth to feed but also another pair of helping hands and an additional thoughtful brain. Yet we are being told by environmentalists that it means less for each of us. We get informed that we will need to radically reduce humanity’s carbon footprint on the environment by reducing our numbers, as well as changes to our lifestyles and that until the world’s population stops growing there will be an urgent need to squeeze people’s consumption.

Does pushing population growth down actually put the environment on a more sustainable path? And if so, what measures would the policy makers have to apply to actually bring about such a change?

The answer to environmentalists attracted to the over-populationist argument is that the birth-control campaigns are, in the end, just one more patriarchal attempt to control women’s reproduction, and that improving child survival rates, giving girls access to education, and empowering women to control their own reproduction (and that means allowing women themselves to make their decisions) are what will sustainably and non-coercively lower birth rates. Family planning and reducing family sizes, however, is not the answer to our environmental problems.

Environmentalist focus on population is mistaken and can lead to equally misguided action. Over-population is a thinly veiled misogynist racist myth that is accepted by both right-wingers and progressives alike. People who claim to be against genocide and eugenics push this myth with no sense of the irony. Those accepting the over-population argument obscure the more immediate causes of suffering under capitalism. Because of its short-termism, its unrelenting drive for profits, and international conflict, capitalism expresses a tendency toward planetary crisis, regardless of the total number of humans living on earth. The amount of waste and pollution under capitalism is enormous with its preponderance of the production and distribution of useless products, the wasted labour and the creation of mounting piles of garbage as a result of planned obsolescence and single-use products.

The concentration on so-called over-population confuses symptoms with causes, validating apologists for the system and perpetuating Malthusian anti-poor arguments. The central concept in the ideological armoury of capitalism is the idea that there isn’t enough to go around. Hence, we are confronted with the idea that there isn’t enough food, aren’t enough jobs, not enough housing, or we haven’t enough classrooms or hospital beds because there is a certain fixed amount of all these things. People who claim that population growth is the issue are shifting the blame from the rich to the poor.

Those who believe reducing the population to be an answer to global warming say very little about which policies would spare the planet many more billions of people, particularly when the existing trend is already towards smaller family sizes. We should forget all about prioritising population control and instead help each and every woman bear a child in good health whenever she chooses to have a baby. It might sound counter-intuitive for stabilising and lowering the population but giving women control over their lives and of their own bodies controls population growth. We need no more misanthropic pronouncements about too many people or that humanity has somehow exceeded the planet’s carrying capacity or that humanity is a parasitic species on the Planet Earth’s ecology.

Giving women control of both their lives and their bodies is what will control population growth. The best family planning and contraceptive is the empowerment of women.’


Monday, February 26, 2024

Self Immolation is not the answer


‘A man has been hospitalized in critical condition after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC on 25 February, the city’s emergency services said.

Vito Maggiolo, a spokesman for DC Fire and EMS, told reporters that the man has been hospitalized with “critical life-threatening injuries.”

The man is reported to have said, “I will no longer be complicit in genocide” and shouted “Free Palestine.”’

It is thought that the twenty five year old man was a serving member of the American military.

He is now believed to have died from his injuries.

Self immolation for religious or political reasons has a long history.

Several Buddhist monks carried out this act in South Vietnam in the early nineteen sixties in protest against repression of majority Buddhists by a minority Catholic government.

As an act of protest it is an extreme one. Capitalism, historically, and at the present time, has engaged in extreme acts of violence against individuals and the masses.

We cannot know what compels an individual to commit such a thing. If the driving force for doing so emanates from actions by, and on behalf of capitalism, then the solution is to collectively fight for the abolution of capitalism and for its replacement by a social system where such deeds will never more be contemplated by anyone.

The SPGB’s response to a letter, the Socialist Standard, June 1970

... he more or less argues that any atrocities committed by the Viet-cong are justified because it was the Americans who started the war. This is of course a very old argument — it was used to excuse the obliteration of Hiroshima and in fact has always been used by capitalist states as part of their war propaganda.

It is true that the Americans interfered in Vietnam — in the same way as the North Koreans did in the South, and as the Russians did in Czechoslovakia, Finland and so on. In each case the inference has been justified by counter-accusations of threats from the subject of the interference. And so we go on — all the time avoiding the real issue, which is why wars, invasions and international interference take place. Why are they sometimes (not always) resisted? What interests are at stake? In Vietnam, we are seeing a struggle between rival capitalist groups for the control of an area of great economic and strategic importance. The interests in the war are those of capitalism; the people on both sides stand to gain nothing from the war and their interests are in keeping out of it as far as they can. Whoever wins, the people of Vietnam and of America will lose.

(He) accuses us of being deluded fools, thinks the North Vietnamese are fighting for freedom and justice. Is it part of freedom and justice to commit mass murder among the Vietnamese people? In war no one side is alone responsible for all the atrocities and this is widely accepted, with only a few people closing their eyes to the evidence.’

Editorial Committee


Sunday, February 25, 2024

Won't anyone think of the children? Part Two


‘Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it was launching an investigation into rising prices on infant formula in an effort to contain the cost-of-living crisis.

The decision to scrutinize formula makers follows an earlier report from the watchdog that found a 25% average price increase over the two previous years. The report also showed that families could make significant savings of more than £500 ($632) over the first year of a baby’s life by buying cheaper infant formulas.

The CMA said it will look into “anti-reflux” and “comfort” formulas, as well as formula for babies aged six to 12 months, and milk marketed for children over 12 months as “growing up” and “toddler” formula. “Infant formula is a key part of the weekly shop for many parents across the UK, who rely on these products to ensure their baby gets all the essential nutrients they need,” Sarah Cardell, the chief executive of CMA, remarked.

“While it’s a positive sign that prices of some products have fallen since our update last November, the cost of infant milk remains at historically high levels. We’re concerned that parents don’t always have the right information to make informed choices and that suppliers may not have strong incentives to offer infant formula at competitive prices,” she added.

The CMA is planning to release a report based on the results of the study by September, which could give it the power to force suppliers to provide information on pricing and other issues.

Producers of baby formula in the UK have been blaming the higher prices on increased factory costs, including for ingredients and energy. Meanwhile, some supermarkets have cut the cost of the formula after French manufacturer Danone last month agreed to reduce prices on the majority of its Aptamil range for UK retailers by up to 7%. Danone, which also owns the Cow & Gate brand, accounts for 71% of the baby formula market in the UK.’


P.D. James’s 1992 novel The Children Of Men is set in 2021. Due to a complete loss of fertility in all men no more children can be born so the human race is headed for extinction. As in Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta the UK is effectively a police state.

James has young foreign workers imported to work and having been exploited to the full they are returned to whence they came. The old and the sick are euthanised at sixty and pets are treated like children.

Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel, The Wanting Seed, deals with overpopulation as opposed to James’s underpopulation. Repressive measures practised by the State through its Population Police include the harassment of heterosexuals- the protagonist’s brother is a closet heterosexual who pretends to be homosexual in order to protect his government position- whist men are press-ganged into the military to be sent to a war front controlled by the government with the aim of simply killing off as many as possible.

Both these dystopian scenarios are of course fiction. The premise in both novels is that capitalism is still the overriding social system and in both State force is the ‘solution’ to the problems.

‘... declining birth rates have meant an increasing number of countries are now experiencing below-replacement level – or negative – growth and, remarkably, there is more and more concern being expressed about the prospect of depopulation and a steadily ageing population, rather than overpopulation. Some countries, worried about their waning influence on the international stage, have begun to institute pro-natalist policies with a view to reversing their relative population decline. For them the link between power and population is compellingly self-evident: big is obviously better in a competitive global economy.’

Robin Cox

From the Socialist Standard February 2023.

.. . if the human population of our planet were to continue to expand at the doubling time of 35 years then within a period no longer than that of recorded history the entire substance of the universe would be converted to human tissue and the diameter of the resulting human mass would be expanding at the speed of light. (Dr Paul Ehrlich, quoted in the Guardian, 18 June 1979)

Many figures and doomsday predictions like the above have been cited to express the urgency of the “problem" of population growth. In response to this the United Nations declared 1974 World Population Year, the key event of which was a conference in Bucharest. Last month, after a period of ten years, the second such conference was held in Mexico City; attended by delegates from over 140 countries, it discussed population in the light of the poverty and widespread hunger of humanity.

The real boost to concern with population growth came in the United States from the President's Commission on Material Policy in 1952. This report considered the question of “whether the US had the raw materials to sustain its civilisation". This was considered likely only "if Third World raw materials remain reliable". The report concluded that the greatest threat to those reliable resources was population growth. From then on population control gained respectability, growing to prominence in aid programmes and the activities of the World Bank, which sees population control as a necessary consideration in its lending activities: “The Bank does not feel it can legitimately allocate funds of its bond holders and contributing states to countries which are bad risks — don’t have population under control”. (Science for People Journal, No. 26)

This concern is not new. In 1798, the Reverend Thomas Malthus wrote his Essay on the Principle of Population at a time when the British population was rapidly increasing. The reason for this, as the Third World Quarterly explains was: "Until the seventeenth century, world population grew, on average, by less than one per cent a century. The extraordinary growth in human population occurred primarily after the Industrial Revolution” (Wasim Zuman, “The World Population Situation”. Third World Quarterly, July 1980).

Malthus took the view that widespread poverty was due to the fact that human population tended to increase more rapidly (by a geometric expansion) than their means of subsistence (arithmetic growth). Thus "to remove the wants of the lower classes of society is an evil so deeply seated that no human ingenuity can reach it". This "law of nature" therefore could justify starvation, slums andall the problems of poverty because “to prevent the recurrence of misery is alas! beyond the power of man". But this relied on a vastly oversimplified model of the relationship between human population and human environment.

The Malthusian view, and that of the quote at the top of this article, are based on very selective trends; they view human population as being solely subject to some constant and incontrovertible natural law. In so doing they fail to take account of the ability of humans to rationally apply themselves to their environment and so control nature.

Malthus was disproved by the first 150 years of industrial capitalism, when the population of England grew threefold and there was an unprecedented growth in the productive forces. In this period the supposed "superior power of population" was checked without producing "misery or vice” on the scale predicted. However these ideas of population control have been revived in recent years, appearing in the 70s in the Club of Rome's Limits to Growth, which claims that “The greatest possible impediment to more equal distribution of the earth's resources is population growth".

Is there then a problem of overpopulation? If so, then the reader should be well aware of it. for the United Kingdom is the ninth most densely populated country in the world and England and Wales is fourth in the demographers' league of overcrowded nations. For that matter, the whole world’s population could be accommodated, packed like passengers in the rush hour, in an area of only 20km by 20km.

If we accept though that overpopulation exists, when the population exceeds the available resources, we must then ask if the concept is a natural law or a relative one which holds in certain situations and not in others. Harry Rothman in his book on pollution and resources Murderous Providence answers this by detailing different situations:

In societies of nomadic shepherds one finds population densities of 40-100 per square mile; nomads with agriculture 200-300; with intensive agriculture 200-500; regions with intensive agriculture 2,000-4,000. In regions of India where irrigation makes multiple cropping possible over 10.000 people per square mile can be kept alive, and finally, in the metropolitan areas of industrial societies densities of over 15,000 per square mile are found.

Rothman concludes that “with the development of more advanced productive forces the capacity of areas to support human populations can be increased” (page 330). This was precisely the criticism that Marx had of Malthus, when he showed how capitalism artificially swelled or shrank the population according to its requirements — in recession the population appears large; in times of boom it appears too small.

As well as varying from time to time, it can be similarly seen that the requirements of capital will seem to vary the population from place to place — the initial rise of capitalism brought with it the first large- scale concentrations of men and women in cities to meet demand for a large number of wage slaves. Indeed, current concern for the problems of poverty in the Third World is largely due to the greater rate of urban population growth compared to rural in countries undergoing very rapid industrialisation. Yves Benot points out that “many of today’s underdeveloped countries could well show up as underpopulated if they were to experience the same developmental process as that experienced by 19th century Europe”. (Qu'est-ce que le developpement?, p. 9.)The effect of capitalist requirements dictating what is the “natural level" of population at any one time can be seen in the large-scale movement of migrants to the United States, Canada and Australia, into Arab OPEC countries and in the guest workers of Western Europe. David Eversley describes this process: "In a country like Germany a dilemma threatens to arise: in the 60s they had the problem of their foreign workers; when the economic growth rate slowed down, they sent home as many as they could; but if, for instance, there is a new boom in the early 80s they will face this with an ever-shrinking indigenous labour force entry, and the necessity therefore to invite the guest workers back again until the next recession”. (“Zero Population Growth: Problems for the 21st Century”, New Internationalist, June 1977.)

This prompted a German politician to say in 1980 "the nation is dying beneath the blankets". In fact, a German ministerial report earlier this year expressed serious concern over shortages in the labour force, a lack of recruits for the armed forces and high unemployment in the teaching profession (Population Today, February 1984). This would really endanger the interests of the owning class in Germany, or any other country — “by the end of the century the army will be severely below strength" (The Times, December 15. 1983). Similarly in America a recent internal study for the Cabinet Council of Economic Affairs viewed with alarm the decline in the youth population as far as filling the volunteer armed forces goes (Population Today, March 1984).This shows in exactly whose interests population levels are thought to be too great or too small from time to time, or place to place. Malcolm X (for one) noted this: "Whenever they are speaking of the population explosion, in my opinion they are referring primarily to the people in Asia or in Africa . . ." But he goes on: “. . . in fact in most of the thinking and planning of whites in the West today, it’s easy to see the fear in their minds . . . that the masses of dark people . . . will continue to increase and multiply and grow until they eventually overrun the people of the West" (Malcolm X Speaks, p.46).This apology for an explanation conveniently ignores the fact that the worldwide capitalist system of society is run in the interests not of the "whites in the West" but in the interests of the minority who own virtually all the land and productive resources on it, regardless of the country or colour of skin of exploiter and exploited.

The Declaration of the United Nations International Conference on Human Rights in 1968 stated that "... couples have a basic human right to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children". But rights or no rights, regardless of any "free and responsible decision", there is a real material basis which "for most people in the underdeveloped countries is the stark reality that there is little or no economic security in old age or in case of disease, other than one's own children. not all of whom will survive until adulthood" ("Not Better Lives, Just Fewer People”, Science for People, No.26). This is summed up by a village blacksmith in India: "A rich man invests in his machines. We must invest in our children, it’s that simple" (quoted in The Myth of Population Control, Mahmood Mamdani). Therefore any attempt to reduce fertility by changing people’s awareness of their best interests, without trying to change their material basis, fails because, quite simply, people are unlikely to plan their families if there is no possibility of their being able to plan their whole lives. Similarly countries like China, (held up by the Mexico City Conference as having ideal birth control measures) have problems with female infanticide because of the desire for sons, which occurs in the strict One Glorious Child scheme. The Scotsman, (25 May 1984) also considers other countries in South East Asia where ". . . children were so little valued that they were being bought and sold in markets". The article quotes Professor Scorer saying that people don’t care about their children "because they don't have any material opportunity to do so".

A few weeks before the World Population Conference, the media discovered that people were starving to death in drought-hit Ethiopia. This is despite the statement by the editor of the Observer to his staff (8 April 1984) that "Hunger is boring" — no doubt the hungry wish it were so. Boring or not though, the BBC did not think twice about perpetuating a few myths by laying the blame for hunger squarely on the 2½ million hungry: "They expected too much from the land which could not provide enough . . .” (roughly quoted from Jan Leeming on the News Report, 22 July 1984). With “overpopulation" mistaken for the cause of the problem of poverty and starvation, any attempt at a solution amounts to little more than trying to do away with the poor rather than the cause of poverty.

What the conference ignored is that the world has the capacity almost immediately to provide enough food, drink, housing and health care for the world’s population many times over — yet one out of every ten babies born today will die within a year, victims of a system that must put the profits of the owning minority before the needs of millions who cannot put money where their hungry mouths and swollen bellies are.

Lester Brown of the World Watch Institute. Washington, disputes this, putting forward a falsely simplistic relationship between population and food production which does not recognise that capitalism requires food to be produced and distributed only when it can be sold. "Throughout most of human existence”, he claims, "there were more fish in the oceans than humans could ever hope to catch or consume. As world population expanded following World War Two. population continued to grow, but the fish catch did not". As well as oceanic fisheries he cites grasslands as a second global life-support system that is under mounting pressure. He sees this as evidence that "human needs have begun to outstrip the productive capacity of many local biological systems". This may well be true, but the world under the capitalist system has effectively become an integrated unit of production of all wealth and has the potential (which cannot be realised under the profit system) to overcome specific problems of failing harvests and famines.

Nevertheless it is still commonly held that attacking the population levels provides some solution to the problems of poverty. Lester Brown, for example, suggests that, short of an abrupt slowdown in world population growth, there will come a time when "the rationing of scarce supplies through rising prices in the world market may leave some people unable to get enough food while others enjoy a surfeit". But there is no maybe about it. People were starving to death in the early 1970s, when food production was at its highest levels in the areas Brown cites — fish in 1970; mutton 1972; cereals 1971. And the last two decades have seen a doubling in the world beef production. Yet every so often we face the sickening sight on television of mass burials of children, and the only slightly less unpleasant sight of Frank Bough or some other talking head appealing for a few pounds for charity in the hope that it will keep this quiet carnage of capitalism off the television screens for at least a few months.’

Brian Gardner

From the Socialist Standard, October 1984

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Won't anyone think of the children? Part One

 The term ‘screwed’ can mean several things. Urban Dictionary gives one example as, ‘a position that is a result of a problem or bad situation that seems impossible to solve or get out of.’

Not everyone wants to be a parent The UK organisation, Pregnant Then Screwed, uses a play on words to describe the onerous position that some expectant mothers find themselves in when confronted with the financial burdens that capitalism places upon them.

The statistic that one in five spend half their earnings on child care is very worrying. Along with the onerous costs of childcare costs in the UK PTS expresses its concern that, ‘ 20% of mothers in England are unable to take up a more senior role due to childcare costs and availability compared to 8.8% of fathers’ and that, ‘cost and availability continues to have a negative impact on the economy and on gender equality with a third (33.6%) of mothers in England unable to return to work full-time due to childcare costs or availability, compared to just 11.9% of fathers.’

This constitutes an erroneous view that appears to be more concerned with ensuring that women should be ‘better’ placed to be exploited by capitalism.

Despite the good intentions of PTS there does not appear tp be, on their part, insight into the underlying problem which is the cause of the ills they highlight. The ‘solutions’ which they would like to see implemented are no solutions at all. The solution is a simple and straightforward one, it’s the replacement of an exploitative capitalist system with Socialism where not only will quality goods and services be produced for free, not profit, but the stresses the present system causes, not just for parents, but for all, will be abolished for good.

Research from PTS reveals a sharp increase in childcare debts that parents are facing. 45.9% of parents in England with a child under the age of 5 years old say they accrued debt or had to withdraw money from their savings to pay for childcare – a 30% increase from 35.2% last year.

The report has found that 1 in 5 parents (21.5%) with a child under 5 years of age had to withdraw money from their savings and pension to pay their childcare bill, and 37.1% said they had to use credit cards, take out a loan or borrow money from family or friends. The figures rise sharply for single parents with a child under 5 years old, almost two-thirds (66.5%) accrue debt to pay for childcare, including 50% who borrow money, and 31.3% who withdraw money from their savings and pension pot to plug the gaps.

In 2023 the same survey found that 35.2% of parents had to rely on some form of debt, or withdraw money from their savings to pay for childcare. With 27.6% saying they have had to borrow money and 15% saying they have had to withdraw money from savings or their pension

Currently, women retire with a third less in private pension savings than men due to inequalities in the workplace and the knock-on effect of caring responsibilities.

Half of parents with a child under 5 years of age in England (53%) say they spend more than a quarter of their household income on childcare, this is up 16% from last year, whilst 1 in 5 parents (19.2%) say they spend more than half their household income on childcare.

But cost isn’t the only issue. A third (34%) of parents said their childcare provider has a waiting list longer than 9 months and only 13% of parents said there is no issue with childcare availability near them.

The issue of cost and availability continues to have a negative impact on the economy and on gender equality with a third (33.6%) of mothers in England unable to return to work full-time due to childcare costs or availability, compared to just 11.9% of fathers. Meanwhile, 20% of mothers in England are unable to take up a more senior role due to childcare costs and availability compared to 8.8% of fathers.

Devastatingly, 52.5% of mothers who have had an abortion either somewhat agree or absolutely agree with the statement “I believe that the cost of childcare was the primary reason for me to terminate a pregnancy”

Worryingly, the cost of childcare continues to price parents out of growing their family, with 85% of parents agreeing with the statement – ‘’I tend to view childcare costs as prohibitive of having more children.’’

Joeli Brearley, CEO and founder of charity, Pregnant Then Screwed said: ‘’We’ve not only got a cost of living crisis, we’ve got a cost of working crisis that disproportionately impacts mothers. We’re running out of babies. The birth rate is in decline. But parents who want to have more children cannot afford to do so. Being a parent is tough enough, but when having more children means sacrificing your income, procreation feels like financial suicide. If we aren’t careful, becoming a parent will be a luxury item, and the economy can’t afford to pay that price.”

The Government has pledged a reduction in childcare costs starting 1st April, however, only 35% of parents in England agreed with the statement, “I think childcare costs will be less of an issue for my family in 2024 due to childcare schemes announced by the Government.” This was reduced to 15% for single parents and 27% for Asian parents. Whilst 90% of parents in England agreed with the statement, “I do not believe the Government’s promise that childcare costs will reduce.” But even when a family is eligible for free hours, and there are places available close by, almost a quarter (23%) of parents said they couldn’t afford to access those hours due to the top up fees charged by nurseries for sundry items such as nappies and food.

A spokesperson for Women In Data® comments “Collectively we need to close the gender gap and remove the challenges Women face to achieve equality of opportunities in the workplace and reduce burden of the unspoken ‘tax’ on mothers from additional unpaid labour as carers and in the home.

Pregnant Then Screwed lists its ‘solutions’ to the problems that it sees as:

legislative change that will foster greater parity between men and women, both in the home and the workplace; support for pregnant women and mothers to access free legal advice as well as supporting them to challenge discrimination and to take legal action against an employer; contribution to government consultations and policy-making; give training to employers to help them make their workplace the best it can be for working parents, and work to rebuild the confidence of mothers and support them to find work that works for them.

Looking through an old copy of the Socialist Standard, the writer came across a series of articles based on lectures on that seemingly eternal subject, “The Women’s Question.” Like unemployment, it is always with us, and will remain so until the inception of Socialism.

Woman cannot expect emancipation, any more than can her fellow-worker, man, under the existing system, capitalism. The amount enjoyed now by the male is merely a question of degree, conditioned mainly by his class position ; if of the working class, he is at liberty to sell his labour power or to starve.

Morgan, in his great work “Ancient Society,” shows clearly that the subjugation of woman did not come about to any great extent until the importance of private property was realised. Woman then became part of it; she was as important as flocks and herds, because she was reproductive, and she had no more freedom. Companionship and affection between the male and female had not yet been realised, and could not enter into the contract. The husband punished infidelity with severity, whilst reserving for himself the right of promiscuity. A section of women became courtesans, thus filling the needs of man for enjoyment outside his own home. These were found in the early civilisations of Rome and Greece, where the married women had no rights or freedom. Man then became the head of the family, over which he exercised power of life or death; property descended through the male line instead of the female, as heretofore, and the female lost all right of expressing herself and putting her point of view as she had been accustomed to so doing in the savage tribes. Her place became the home, whilst the man developed for himself a life outside it and generally had some voice in public affairs. Thus began the possibility of the charge so often still levelled against woman, that her mind can only appreciate trivialities. Small wonder, she was for so long debarred from all else, and the education available for her brothers was denied her.

Time, coupled with the progress of capitalism, has modified her position somewhat. To the capitalist she has appeared in the guise of a worker who will accept less wages than the male. Her centuries of subjugation were exploited to their fullest extent during the Industrial Revolution. Marx, in “Capital” (Vol. I.), gives a telling quotation from Lord Ashley’s speech on the 10-hours Bill. “Mr. E., a manufacturer, informed me that he employed females exclusively at his power looms . . . gives a decided preference to married females, especially those who have families at home dependent on them for support; they are attentive, docile, more so than unmarried females, and are compelled to use their utmost exertions to procure the necessaries of life. Thus are the virtues, the peculiar virtues of the female character, to be perverted to her injury; thus all that is most dutiful and tender in her nature is made a means of her bondage and suffering.” (Page 100, Glaisher edition.)

During the present war the calling up of men for the armed forces, and the subsequent conscription of women for industry, has once again given the capitalist a golden opportunity for getting more surplus value from his workers. Army pay has been so low, has borne so little relation to the needs of life, that women with small children have been compelled to go into the factory. That it has been the design of the representatives of the capitalist class, the Government, is evident by their provision of war-time nurseries. They are learning how better to enslave their workers from their co-belligerent Russia, who provides factory creches for war workers’ babies, so getting their cheap labour without damaging the next generation of wage slaves. Britain has hitherto been too crude in her methods to make such provision. Mothers have gone out to work and left their children under little or no supervision, which has been one of the causes of infant mortality and disease.

Woman has awakened sufficiently at this time to strive for “equal pay for equal work,” but not enough to demand the abolition of the wages system. She, like her male fellow worker, does not realise the theft that is being perpetrated upon her when she becomes employed. Such slogans tend to increase any antagonism that may exist between the sexes, instead of uniting them against the common enemy, the master class. The possibility of further antagonism may be manifested after this war, when men return from the Army to find, as after the last world war, that the women ensconced in their seats are unwilling to get down, and it will doubtless be exploited by Governments when unemployment once again becomes rife—as indeed it must, despite all “reconstruction schemes.”

An organisation called “Women for Westminster” has recently been born. It has a self-explanatory name and object. What a waste of time and energy such an organisation causes, and what future disillusionment must there be among its adherents ! Supposing they were to have a measure of success according to their aims, and get a predominance of women in the House of Commons. They would find that women, merely as women, can run capitalism no better than can the Labour or Tory Parties.

The Suffragettes have been appalled by the lack of enthusiasm for the vote, following their desperate efforts to gain it. Their lack of knowledge of the make-up of society is the reason for their indignation. Despite the constant propaganda of the press, screen and radio, woman as well as man is sceptical, often unconsciously so, regarding electioneering programmes, which cater for all tastes. Speaking generally, members of the working class are apathetic and not politically conscious. Many, unfortunately, are led away by reform parties, by idolaters of Russia, or by mushroom growths such as Commonwealth.

Many of the reforms regarding women have been implemented since Mary Woolstonecraft wrote her book “The Rights of Women.” These may, in the main, be attributed to the rise of capitalism, which has made it necessary for woman to take her place as part of the industrial army. In countries such as Turkey, for example, where after years of seclusion woman has removed her veil and gone out to work in the factory, it does not merely indicate that opinion there is becoming more liberal, but that the forces of industrial capital are at work looking out for cheap labour. The benefits woman has received in the field of education have been essential for her to take her place in the professional groups, and whilst giving her some individual freedom, have exchanged her quiet home life for that of a competitive existence.

Many women intent on emancipation have sublimated their natural instincts. This is undoubtedly possible for the possessor of an interesting and absorbing job, but as most work has been reduced to routine by the division of labour, characteristic of capitalist organisations, little permanent satisfaction is obtained thereby. With the present knowledge of birth control, the modern working woman denies herself the pleasure of children rather than bring them into a world, for them, of abject poverty. Frustration is thus found on all sides; denied an interesting and creative job, denied the rightful expression of her normal instincts, woman becomes, like the male worker, another machine for productivity and exploitation by the capitalist.

Whilst capitalism lasts, women will remain, like men, in a subject position, no matter how far progress is made towards equality with men. The interests of women are therefore identical with men in struggling for the overthrow of the present system, as it is only under Socialism that both will find real emancipation.

W. P.

Friday, February 23, 2024

This evening's Zoom meeting: capitalist China.

Friday 23 February 19.30

Speaker: Howard Moss

To join the meeting click

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Hidden cost of living


Q. What was the bare minimum you needed to stay alive last week? A. Food, heating, accommodation.

Q. How did you get these things? A. With money, obviously!

Whatever the amount, if you’re working, it came from your wages for some employment.

Q. Why would anyone want to employ you? A. Simple: they expect you to produce enough to pay your wages, to replace whatever you use up while you work AND to fund their spending. Oh, and cash for reinvestment – to try to ensure they don’t end up in the working class too.

Remember – while capitalism lasts, your cost of living will always include the cost of carrying a capitalist on your back.

New audio uploads

 From 2023:


‘German Political Culture and Socialism’ - commentary on Rammstein’s music video ‘Deutschland‘, by Andrew Westley 15th December 2023

'Is a Moneyless Society Possible?' - Richard Field, 8th December 2023

'Discussion on Gaza' - hosted by Adam Buick and Paddy Shannon, 17th November 2023

'Is there such a thing as ethical investment?' - Hosted by Adam Buick, 20th October 2023



‘Has the Internet Enhanced or Inhibited Workers Understanding of the World’ - John Cumming, 19th January 2024

‘State Constitutions – Paper and Reality’ - by Uther Naysmith, 12th January 2024

‘Roundup of 2023’ - hosted by Paddy Shannon, 5th January 2024 

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Animal Farm Redux: A tale of global economic inequity in 2024

As we navigate the complex landscape of the global economy in 2024, parallels to a novel set forty years ago in what was then the future are unceasingly alluring for many. However, while George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four will forever reverberate through the passage of time as a quintessential critique of authoritarianism, his Animal Farm offers us a far more compelling critique of the power dynamics, manipulation, and pitfalls of unchecked authority associated with the ultimate authority – the one in which all fascist and ‘communist’ systems have hitherto existed: capitalism.

The story of Animal Farm unfolds as a group of farm animals revolt against their human oppressors, led by the idealistic pigs Snowball and Napoleon. The revolution promises equality and prosperity for all, yet as time progresses, the pigs, who initially championed the cause of the oppressed, succumb to the allure of power and wealth. Over time, the pigs consolidate power, betraying their initial ideals and creating a hierarchy that mirrors the oppressive regime they replaced.

Sound familiar? Naturally one can chart these porcine similarities in the development of capitalism – particularly in the transformation of the ‘“start-up’” into the multinational corporation. In the spirit of Animal Farm's pigs, these entities, once heralded as champions of economic freedom and innovation, have come to wield disproportionate influence over global and human affairs. One need only read a tweet from Elon Musk to understand why billions were wiped off a particular company on the New York Stock Exchange on a particular day or read the latest struggles of Amazon workers to wrest back control of their bladders from Jeff Bezos to understand the severity of this influence. Sadly, these latter-day Napoleons have since emerged as today’s elite, having manipulated capitalist conceptualisations of progress and innovation to the extreme.

In Animal Farm, Napoleon and Snowball are at first portrayed as comrades, sharing a vision of a utopian society. However, Napoleon's lust for power becomes evident when he orchestrates the expulsion of Snowball, eliminating dissent and consolidating authority. One would also do well to recall the condescending hero-worshipping stage rallies of other capitalist exploiters like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates – seemingly once essential ingredients in the faux revolution of the nineties tech boom – and see in them the earlier manifestations of this elitist cunning. There, they extolled the cutting-edge popular utility of their technologies, encouraging perceptions that new tech would lead to a more transparent, equitable, and empowered society. To the contrary, tech giants like Apple and Microsoft have since amassed colossal wealth, buying out competitors, exploiting tax loopholes, and engaging in questionable labour practices. As Orwell wrote, ‘"All animals are equal’” but as the pigs consolidate power, this commandment undergoes subtle modifications, ultimately becoming ‘"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others’."

Here, Orwell's work highlighted the manipulation of language to control perception, with the pigs modifying the commandments to justify their actions. Similarly, in the global economy, terms like ‘“free trade’”, ‘“globalisation’", ‘“innovation’”, ‘“aspiration’”, and ‘“growth’” are employed to cloak a system that often perpetuates inequalities. At the global level, both developed and developing nations find themselves in positions of vulnerability, exploited by powerful economies and multinational corporations in a manner akin to how the pigs exploit the other animals on Animal Farm. Meanwhile, individuals are oppressed in every conceivable manner, from the chiming of the alarm clock signalling the commencement of the day’s shift to the incessant blaze of propaganda, emanating from every screen or frequency, affixed to every block or bus. We are told at every turn that we must have something to be someone – an exercise in the all-consuming tawdry display of capitalist accumulation.  

If one should take anything from Orwell's tale, it is that complacency and conformity breed danger. The animals on Animal Farm gradually accept the pigs' changing principles, rationalising their own subjugation. In the contemporary global economy, there's a parallel in how the masses often accept economic policies that favour the wealthy, believing in the illusion of trickle-down prosperity. Reaganomics sadly remains the chief allure of our acquiescence. A totem under which we willingly swallow the erosion of workers' rights, precarious labour conditions, and the widening income gap between rich and poor, if only for the chance to receive an extra portion of the workhouse gruel. Capitalism’s greatest achievement is our complicity. The Musks, Bezos’s, Jobs’s, and Gates’s of this world fully intend to feed us with the automatic updates necessary to ensure our continued function as the best software version of capitalism (indeed, helpfully Mr Musk has now developed and tested a brain chip, possibly with the idea capable of absolving us of the last vestiges of self-awareness!).

 In conclusion, as we assess the global economy in 2024, the parallels to George Orwell's Animal Farm offer a sobering reflection on the persistence of economic inequity and the concentration of power. The pigs' gradual descent into corruption, the betrayal of revolutionary ideals, the consolidation of corporate influence to the manipulation of language and the erosion of democratic principles, Orwell's cautionary tale resonates in the dynamics shaping our contemporary economic landscape. It is a timeless critique, every bit as vital as Nineteen Eighty-Four, that prompts us to critically examine the principles guiding our societies and question whether they truly uphold the values of equality, justice, and genuine progress. The challenge remains to achieve a global working-class consciousness which strives for a more equitable and just global economy. World Socialism, in which we eradicate hierarchy, participate in decision-making, and produce according to need is the only viable alternative.