This week in Manchester, living in their own deluded bubble, senior Tories banged the drum at the Conservatives’ annual gathering of the party faithful.
At the same time, Rishi Sunak drew critical headlines with his decision to scrap the northern leg of the HS2 high-speed rail project – announced in the very city that will primarily be affected by this latest Tory shambles.
Next week in Liverpool, meanwhile, Starmer and the Blairites will continue their big business charm offensive at the Labour Party conference, as they attempt to woo the capitalist establishment.
Tellingly, there will be more companies and corporate lobby groups exhibiting at the Labour event than in previous years – and also more than in attendance at the Tory conference.
This follows a concerted effort by ‘Sir’ Keir Starmer and the right-wing Labour leaders to win the support of British CEOs and industry chiefs, with endless pledges and assurances aimed at the bosses and bankers.
The out-of-touch politicians, influencers, and journalists in attendance at these conferences may as well be living on another planet. Their shindigs and shenanigans are a world away from the deteriorating conditions facing ordinary people.
“We’ve all been out on the doorstep and things are very tough,” remarked one slightly-less-aloof Tory MP, commenting on the ‘flat’ atmosphere in Manchester. “That’s why the mood isn’t zingy.”
Everywhere you look, there is a sense that society is falling apart. Schools are collapsing. Retail prices and rents are soaring. Hospital waiting lists are growing. The planet is burning. British capitalism – and the institutions that uphold it – are crumbling.
All of this is leading to a profound questioning amongst workers and youth; to a deep sense of malaise.
This is particularly the case amongst young people, who are bearing the brunt of capitalism’s never-ending crises.
According to one recent survey by the Prince’s Trust, younger generations are increasingly abandoning their dreams and ambitions because of pressures such as the cost-of-living crisis and mental health concerns.
Of the thousands of 18-24 year-olds interviewed, 73% said they were anxious about their futures because of rising living costs. Over two-thirds believed that they would never be financially secure.
Another study by the Children’s Society found that one-in-ten 10-17 year-olds are unhappy with their lives. The impact of inflation was cited as the biggest concern amongst those surveyed, ahead of the environment.
No wonder there has been such a noticeable radicalisation amongst the youth in recent years. This is reflected in the growing support for communism – and in the incredible enthusiasm seen in colleges and on campuses in recent weeks, in response to the IMT’s efforts to organise a new generation of revolutionaries.
Mole of revolution
Marx talked about revolution being like a mole: burrowing away underground, unseen, but occasionally bursting to the surface.
Similarly, anger and discontent is accumulating in the depths of society. And at certain points, this can explode into view, giving rise to profound transformations in consciousness.
There have certainly been significant changes in people’s consciousness since the huge capitalist slump of 2008. This ushered in an age of austerity, instability, and uncertainty.
This produced a series of political earthquakes, shaking the landscape of British society: Scottish independence; Brexit; the rise and fall of Corbynism; and a string of ill-fated Tory leaders.
“What the hell is happening in Britain?” This is the common refrain internationally.
But these shocks simply reflect, in one way or another, the long-term decline and impasse of British capitalism, which has been increasingly exposed.
Crisis-ridden Britain has never been so unstable. Bitterness and rage is building up everywhere. The last year’s wave of industrial militancy is only one expression of this.
The latest British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey has also detected sharp changes in opinion. This is reflected in a yearning for more state intervention, in order to help ordinary people handle the growing problems they face.
Even Tory voters are more in favour of such intervention than ever before. This conflicts with the government’s ‘small state’ rhetoric and war on welfare claimants, not to mention Liz Truss’ calls in Manchester to ‘axe the tax’.
For the vast majority, the invisible hand of the ‘market’ – i.e. capitalism – has failed abysmally. Everything is going to pot.
Consequently, some 68% of BSA respondents now think that the government should definitely “be responsible for keeping prices under control”. This is up from 29% when the question was last asked in 2016, and the highest since records began in 1985.
Similarly, the study found that a record 53% of people thought that the government should “be responsible for reducing income differences between rich and poor”. This is compared to only 25% holding this view in 2006.
The survey also showed support for higher taxation and higher spending, with 55% of those polled saying both should rise.
And yet the Tory, Liberal, and Labour parties are all saying that this is a no-go area. The Labour leaders have ruled out a wealth tax, for example, committing instead to ‘fiscal discipline’. This shows how out of step Starmer and co. are from the general mood.
Crisis of reformism
The Tory government is clearly finished. It is waiting to be put out of its misery.
Given Sunak’s demise, it is more than likely that a Starmer government – possibly in cahoots with the Liberals – will come to power.
But Starmer’s Labour has shifted dramatically to the right, and embraced Tory policies. All they have to offer is more of the same, as they try to patch up British capitalism.
The problem for Starmer and the ruling class is that they have run out of options. The cupboard is bare.
The crisis of capitalism is therefore a crisis of reformism. A Starmer government, in turn, will inevitably be a government of crisis.
Bailouts and bankruptcy
The strategists of capital are alarmed at what lies ahead. They bailed out the capitalist system in 2008 and 2020 through government borrowing. Now they have accumulated colossal debts.
When the next global crash hits, which is inevitable under capitalism, they will not be in a position to take the same measures as before.
“I don’t think they (governments) can do it again,” stated Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, chief economist of the IMF. “We don’t have an insurance policy anymore. We are at the edge.”
This is an admission of bankruptcy. The capitalists and their representatives are leading us into an abyss.
Once again, as always, the working class will be asked to pay for a crisis not of their making.
This objective situation will have a dramatic effect on people’s consciousness. They will experience one hammer blow after another.
But workers’ backs are already against the wall. Many sections feel burnt out. The attempt to squeeze the working class even further will lead to social explosions.
What we have seen in the past period will be nothing compared to what is in store. We are in a period of sharp and sudden changes – a reflection of the deepening crisis of capitalism.
Consciousness is generally very conservative. People tend to cling on to what they know.
But when the situation becomes untenable, consciousness can change very rapidly – catching up with a bang, and when you least expect it.
The old mole of revolution will surface once again. The task we face is to ensure that the coming revolution will be successful.
The right reformists will sell out. But the ‘left’ reformists will be little different. None of them have any perspective of overthrowing capitalism – only of patching it up.
It is vital that we prepare a new leadership in the working class: one that is prepared to carry through the revolution to the end. This means building a revolutionary party, a genuine Communist Party, along the lines of the Bolsheviks in 1917.
The key to this, at this point, is the youth, who are far more open to revolutionary ideas. Through them, the older generation will be drawn in.
We therefore appeal to you to join us. It is your future – fight for it! Don’t stand on the sidelines. Help build the revolutionary party.