Tuesday, July 09, 2024

Continuation of the degrading social system

A survey carried out in Germany by the ARD-DeutschlandTREND has zero per cent of Germans ‘fully satisfied’ with their government.

Just one fifth were ‘satisfied’ leaving eighty per cent dissatisfied which included almost half who were ‘not satisfied at all.

‘The country is currently governed by the so-called traffic light coalition, which consists of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), the Free Democrats (FDP), and the Greens.’

Are Germans seeking out the only sane alternative? Unfortunately, it would appear not.

How soon will it be before Britain's are expressing similar sentiments?

How soon will it be before the Labour Party election slogan from the nineteen sixties is regenerated?

The conclusion from the article reproduced below is as apposite today as it was then.

Below is an extract from the Socialist Standard April 1966

‘He has it all now; even the place in history which he is said to pine for. Mr. Harold Wilson will be remembered as the first Labour Prime Minister to lead his party back to Westminster with an increased majority.

It has never happened before; but then never before has there been a government like this one, and never before has there been a Labour Premier like Mr. Wilson. Never before has the so-called left wing, with its nostalgia for the days when Labour dabbled in theories of what it called Socialism, been so thoroughly tamed. The Labour government has made a public pride of the fact that it would have none of theories or principles; its first concern has been to run British capitalism as its day to day affairs demanded.

This is what is meant by a word which was often used to describe the Wilson government during the election: pragmatic. The Economist said on February 26th: "Mr. Wilson has been a socialist in small things and a pragmatist in big ones.” William Davis, the Financial Editor of The Guardian, wrote on 28th February: ‘‘I do not believe that ...Wilson the pragmatist would go easy with the trade unions and aim nasty blows at business men.” And Mr. Wilson himself claimed, when he was being interviewed in television's Election Forum on March 10th, “We have been a pragmatic government.”

It is also what was meant by the slogan on which the Labour Party fought the election: You Know Labour Government Works. Not, we should notice, You Know Labour Government Is Socialism, nor even You Know Labour Government Is Good For You. Only the claim that Labour government works. And now that they are back again stronger than before it is time for those who voted for a return of Labour government to ask themselves what is meant by the word “works”

...On many other matters the Labour government, in proving that they worked, upset many of their supporters. These supporters thought that their government would judge an issue like the war in Vietnam on humane grounds. Had they known anything about the workings of capitalist parties they would not have been so disappointed when Mr. Wilson so wholeheartedly supported the Americans in their actions there. While Mr. Wilson did so, of course, the bombings went on and the Vietnamese villagers and their children perished wholesale beneath the napalm.

On wages there was less excuse for disappointment; the Labour Party have always made plain their intention to try to control them. But even solid Labour trade unionists were upset when their government actually introduced the Prices and Incomes Bill, which was the sort of measure no Conservative government had dared to bring in. In their battles in this field, the Labour government were openly standing for the interests of the British capitalist class against the wage claims of the workers—many of whom worked so hard for Labour’s return.

There is no reason to suppose that this next Labour government will be any different. They have made it clear that their first pre-occupation will be with the problems of the British capitalist class; the very first specific object stated in their manifesto in the last election was: “It is our aim to achieve balance in our international payments by the end of this year.” Plainly, more disappointments are in store for the friends of Labour rule.

This, then, is what is meant by a Labour government which works. It means a few minor reforms, most of which are of no benefit to the working class. It means the abandonment of principle and its replacement by mealy-mouthed expediency. It means a disregard for human problems and welfare, and a pandering to the bleakest of prejudices. It means a continuation of the social system which terrorises and degrades human beings all over the world. 

There need be no surprise that little interest was shown in the alternative to capitalism at the election. The biggest change of opinion is called a landslide; it would need a veritable earthquake in social awareness to change society from one of despair into one of hope. The earthquake did not, of course, happen and the foundations of capitalism—the self deception, the prejudice, the apathy and the plain ignorance with which the working class blight their own lives—are unshaken.’



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