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Year 2010 No. 31,June 8, 2010 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

No Cuts! We Are Not in This Together! Invest in Social Programmes! Claims on Society Must Be Met!

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No Cuts! We Are Not in This Together! Invest in Social Programmes! Claims on Society Must Be Met!

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No Cuts! We Are Not in This Together! Invest in Social Programmes! Claims on Society Must Be Met!

In his speech on the economy on Monday, June 7, David Cameron spoke on “the need to cut the deficit and deal with Britain’s growing debt”. He said that he wants to “make sure we go about the urgent task of cutting our deficit in a way that is open, responsible and fair. ”.

This conception of “fairness” is that all should suffer cuts and hardship, and all participate in deciding where the cuts should be. It is also in line with Blair’s “fairness not favours” – nobody gets any “favours”, and all should suffer with equal “fairness”. Except that this is not equal. The conditions for everyone are not the same, are not fair, and this conception of fairness flies in the face of the right to social programmes. As is usual when the governments have to implement such anti-social measures, it is done with the pleading that these are “difficult decisions” which have to be taken. What is being added in the name of “fairness” is that the Con-Dem coalition intends to follow a process “to engage and involve the whole country” in these “difficult decisions” in these “inevitably painful times”.

It is pushed as though it were self-evident not only by the government but by the media and by commentators that reducing the deficit is the main priority. This is presented as a country living within its means. However, firstly the Coalition does not just make it the main priority but the only programme that must be pursued. Every other social or economic programme is just fine words, policy objectives, to be postponed until the rainy days are over. Secondly, the deficit and its reduction is made a god, or a thing out there to which human sacrifices have to be made. How is the deficit arrived at is not discussed. Who is taking out of the economy in any case? The “we” who are living beyond our means is made to mean the working people. It is not even made explicit that the equation being used is “production” on the one hand and “consumption” on the other. Put in this way raises two further issues: who decides what and how much and where commodities are produced, and what about producing more to balance the equation. But also, it becomes evident that this is not the only way the issue could be posed. The people demand a modern standard of living, which is their right, and that this standard should, far from being cut, be constantly improved in line with modern production, which is large-scale and social. In this modern society, working people do not appear as consumers of commodities, but as human beings with claims and rights. If anything, it is the rich who are living beyond their means. To them applies the term “conspicuous consumption”. Not only have they not produced what they conspicuously consume, but their “right” to conspicuously consume what society has produced is derived from class privilege, the privilege of the owners and amassers of capital, and of being in a position to make a killing through having in their hands the financial and economic power to do so.

In short, this conception of “fairness” which is being pushed is that of the owners of capital, who have gone back to the early 19th century to resurrect this conception. The working people should be vouchsafed a wage, even a social wage, but this should be only what is considered “fair” by the ruling elite – as in a “fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work”. It comes from an age when the rising industrialists expected their workers to be wage-slaves and wage-slaves only. In this conception, funding of social programmes such as health, education, cultural projects, social housing, and so on, are considered an expenditure by government which can only be covered by old-style taxation on the one hand or cut-back on the other if in the interests of “fairness” taxation should also be cut, particularly for the monopolies. That the economy should be run so that funding in social programmes is made an investment for the well-being of the people and for a harmonious national economy, rather than to meet the requirements of enriching the monopoly capitalists and their cut-throat competition is not considered to come under the heading of what is fair.

In fact, the national debt was itself instituted to enrich the bankers and mercantile capitalists by the institution of the Bank of England in 1694, and had nothing to do with society living beyond its means or otherwise. It is an essential tool for the enrichment of the few. The crux of David Cameron’s argument on the need to cut the deficit is that calculations show that in five years’ time, the interest paid on the National Debt is set to be £70 billion. He then directly counterposes paying debt interest against funding social programmes. This exposes his outlook. The payment of debt interest is sacrosanct, the funding of social programmes is not. This conclusion is obscured by much hand-wringing that interest payments on the national debt is a waste, a “terrible, terrible waste”. But he does not stop at this point and pose a moratorium on paying this debt interest rather than cuts in social programmes so that the country can live within “its means”.

However, Cameron’s argument also goes further. Economic growth also will not sort out the problem, because the crisis, he argues, is deeper than a problem of the last financial crisis. It is based on a “boom in government spending”, along with a “boom in financial services” and a “boom in immigration”. His solution is deeply reactionary, anti-social and anti-worker, because it is not based on an analysis of the crisis that at base is caused by the contradiction between the social nature of the economy and the private ownership of competing parts of this socialised economy. Cameron continues to obscure the source of wealth creation through workers applying their labour to bring about social product and to provide services for this socialised economy. Thus all the “solutions” proposed by Cameron not only will not solve the economic crisis, not only will they exacerbate it, but they are a diversion aimed to disinform the people. They will increase the anti-social offensive by attacking social programmes, scapegoat immigrants and give the green light to racism, deny and attack the public good, siphon more funds into the coffers of the rich, and further harm the economy by increasing the vicious competition between the various sectors of the economy.

Increasing investments in social programmes and renewing and developing the economy by funding public enterprise from the state treasury and ending the practice of the state treasury paying the rich is the way to develop the way out of the crisis and fashion a harmonious pro-social economy. Essential also is to end the export of capital and the vicious exploitation of the masses of the people of other countries, as well as ending the militarisation of the economy. To attack the ability of the working class and people to participate in the economy, and instead leave intact the right of the rich and powerful to dictate its direction, is no solution to the crisis. It only destroys social wealth and shifts the whole burden of the crisis onto the people. The working class and people will have no truck with it!

Public funding for the public sector!

No to all cuts! Increase investment in social programmes!

No to interest payments to the financial oligarchy!

We are not in this together!

The claims of the people on society must be met!

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