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Living on borrowed time

Parliament, the seat of impotence: the real decisions are taken in financial boardrooms. Photo mariarz/shutterstock.com.

Another month, another prime minister. All this change! And yet underneath nothing has changed at all. British capitalism, the oldest in the world and arguably the most cunning, is out of ideas and out of time. It simply has nowhere to go.

For more than a decade now, capitalism has been living on borrowed time. The financial crash of 2008, the result of wild speculation in a desperate attempt to escape the consequences of the falling rate of profit, dug a huge pit for it.

The solution – throughout the capitalist world – was to borrow money on a hitherto unimaginable scale to keep the economy running. But as any worker knows, you can’t borrow money forever: sooner or later the bill must be paid. 

Twist and turn as they try, they cannot provide security and stability for workers or indeed for businesses. That really is the minimum people want from a government, but with capitalism in decline and crisis it’s too much to expect. Far too much.

The ill-fated Liz Truss reacted to crisis by throwing her hands in the air and handing over the future of the country to “the markets”. Well, maybe that’s more honest than thinking that all we need is a “safe pair of hands”.

The idea that all will be fine with a sensible Chancellor, whether Conservative or Labour, is ludicrous. Debts must be paid, and workers will be made to pay them through taxes and spending cuts – for the capitalists, there is no other plan.

The situation is crying out for a revolution. One element of a revolutionary situation is already in place: the ruling class is unable to rule in the old way. Indeed, if ruling is to be anything other than raw oppression and the use of state power, it is unable to rule at all. Actually running a country is beyond it.

What of the working class?

It is the other half of the equation that is missing. The working class has yet to declare it will not be ruled in the old way, that it will seize control for itself. 

Surging opinion poll leads for the Labour Party suggest that workers are still looking for someone else to do the job, even though common sense and a moment’s reflection must lead to the conclusion that Labour is not up to anything. 

Anyway, recent events show beyond doubt that it is finance capital that dictates how we are governed, not the parliamentary parties. Switching Sunak for Starmer will not solve anything. They promise only to manage further decline. As if it could be “managed”!

Real politics is a lot deeper than shouting “Tories Out!”. There is only one solution: “Workers in!” We are not there yet, but there are encouraging signs of a renaissance of honest thinking in Britain (see "Some honest thinking, at last"), centred on fighting for power, for control.

The struggle that matters is the one that builds power and confidence in workplaces and communities, grows and extends control over our own working class organisations, and leads to control over the country. Real control for real independence.