Last week France elected a Socialist president. Francois Hollande is not a radical socialist committed to the overthrow of the corrupt capitalist system, but at least he recognises the need to invest in public sector jobs and services to help grow the French economy.
Socialists also fared well in the Greek elections, where voters rejected further crippling austerity and, instead, embraced the idea of putting the interests of ordinary people before those of multi-national corporations and banks.
However, the contempt of international capital towards the concept of democracy was immediately made clear when German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the European treaty containing stringent austerity measures could not be changed simply because people chose to elect a different kind of government. Already, democratically-elected prime ministers in Italy and Greece have been ousted in favour of unelected technocrats whose role is to carry out the wishes of the global financial markets. Now we have the democratically-expressed wishes of the French and the Greeks being summarily dismissed.
The arrogance of capitalists knows no bounds: it was the inherent corruption of the capitalist system that caused the global economic crisis from which we have yet to emerge, despite billions-of-pounds of public money being poured into private banks to save them from collapse. Now, they tell us people have to suffer more in order to refloat the whole corrupt enterprise and allow the spivs and speculators to begin their gambling all over again.
The faceless international ‘markets’ are dictating who can govern countries and what policies they must implement. Multi-millionaires who have grown even richer throughout the crisis of capitalism tell politicians they must ‘shrink’ the public sector to generate ‘cost savings’ and direct contracts to the private sector. It wasn’t workers in the public sector that caused the economic crisis - it was bankers and financial institutions in the private sector. Cost savings from shrinking the public sector actually mean more unemployment and fewer services provided to the general public, including some of the most vulnerable people in society. Meanwhile, contracts taken from the public sector and handed to private companies whose only motivation is profit, result in lower wages, poorer conditions, less job security and services cut to the bone.
We have had almost four years of austerity in the UK: more and more ordinary men, women and children are being pushed into poverty. We are seeing the re-emergence of soup kitchens to feed the poor. Caps are being placed on benefits, irrespective of need. Private contractors with targets to meet are telling people with physical and mental impairments that they are now fit to work – they are then forced back into the ‘jobs market’, to compete with the millions of others looking for jobs that don’t exist.
Despite all of this – more likely because of it - the UK has just re-entered recession.
How bad does it have to get before we start fighting back? How many people have to be pushed below the poverty line? How many children have to go hungry?
Over 100 years ago, in a book called the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, the birth of organised socialist politics in Britain was told through the lives of workers in the building trade, primarily painters. Back then, as still happens today, most workers did not want to rock the boat for fear of being made redundant. Despite being paid wages so low it was impossible to adequately feed their children, they were indoctrinated by the ruling class and pro-capitalist newspapers into believing they were simply the working class, and there was nothing they could do but accept their lot.
As the first Socialist candidates began to stand for election, bosses and newspaper editorials told workers that if they voted socialist ‘their lives would be hell’. This was told to people living in abject poverty under the capitalist system.
The same lies are still peddled by the capitalists today, and the capitalist-owned national media is still complicit in the deception.
Venezuela is a case in point: media in the US and Europe regularly paints President Hugo Chavez as some kind of left-wing dictator, overseeing a backward socialist economy. The reality, however, is very different.
Chavez is not a dictator, he has been elected and re-elected by the people of Venezuela, despite the best efforts of the United States: right-wing opposition parties contesting this year’s Presidential Election have received funding in the region of $20m from the Obama administration.
The latest Latinobarametro, a survey of 20,000 people in 18 Latin American countries, found 46 per cent of Venezuelans believe their economic situation will improve over the next year: the equivalent figure for Britain is 10 per cent.
The socialist government in Venezuela is to increase spending on social programmes by 46 per cent this year: elsewhere, investment in job-creation is expected to see the economy grow by around 5 per cent over the next 12 months. Britain remains in recession.
In Venezuela, all education is free, including at university. The health service is also free, while the capitalist UK Government sanctions a £9,000 yearly tax on university education (tuition fees) and moves increasingly towards privatisation of the health service.
Socialism works for the majority of people, while the only beneficiaries of capitalism are the small, ruling elite who generate fabulous wealth for themselves through exploiting the rest of us. That’s the truth, but don’t expect to hear it from the BBC or any of the other capitalist-owned media outlets broadcasting or publishing in the UK.