Capitalism Can Neither Give Jobs for All, Nor Decent Life : Shilpa Surendra Pratap Singh
Comrade Stalin while making mockery of the idea of freedom in Bourgeois democracy once said “No freedom can be enjoyed when there is unemployment and poverty”, it’s amusing that years after the same logic is reproduced in philosophical debates of Bourgeois Democracies as “Development as Freedom”— to provide a “Humane Face” to the process of Capitalist development—-the idea that gives us a delusional hope of possibility of enjoyment of real freedom within Bourgeois Democracy by few interventions.
The entire mainstream critique of Neoliberal policies is centred around the premise which acknowledges invincibility of capitalism as best form of economic system— which can pull out millions out of poverty and create employment for all— provided it take cares of its ‘few’ fallacies which can be rectified. One such petty bourgeois criticism being not investing dividends of high growth to benefit masses, and not providing enough resources to people to empower themselves. This line of thought is not only embraced by Bourgeois intellectuals smitten by the end by history thesis, but also by most of the social democratic parties across world.
In the present crisis moment of Capitalism, Fascism(s) and rejuvenated nationalism(s) have been able to mask the systemic crisis tendencies of Capitalism by attributing stagnation, low employment generation, and stalled production to structural impediments within economy and the external constraints. The failure of Capitalism is being camouflaged and presented as our collective failure. The agenda to somehow show that capitalism isn’t the problem, it’s the ill implemented variant of capitalism which is the problem. They say that solution is in a better capitalism, a stronger capitalism (hence we see the phenomena of the rise of strong, messiahnic personalities who can push this strong capitalism).
Since inception of the neoliberal era, it has acquired a currency of common sense that Capitalism is about ‘efficient production’ and ‘Abundance’— How can we forget stories where we are told how Capitalism made our lives easier by producing for needs and budget of everyone like ‘Car’ was out of reach of majority Indians in pre-liberalisation period and now most of us can own it.
Another common sense being—Capitalism entails ‘Collective production’ within a Nation State—all are stakeholders in economic growth of nation marked by GDP, and all production within a country is regulated and measured by State in interest of masses.
If Capitalism is about abundance and production takes place in regulated and collective interest of all why capitalism is failing to generate job for million of unemployed young people???? Why Capitalism is not improving living standard of masses.???
Let us answer these questions by dissecting above two common sense associated with Capitalism and expose it’s obnoxious lies. One i.e. Capitalism is about abundance, Second i.e. Capitalism entails Collective production.
It has to written in iron words that “All Production within capitalism is determined by capitalist ownership”. It is Capitalist ownership that regulates production in tandem with logic of profit/ accumulation. The lives of all others including the working classes is at mercy of this logic of profit of Capitalist class. All the production under Capitalism takes place in interest of few when we are made to believe it’s a collective production. Thus production can be stalled or stopped at any point of time by capitalist ownership if it doesn’t yield the desired level of profit. The working class in Capitalism has fate like that of guinea pigs at the perennial mercy of Capitalist class for their survival as it is primarily interest of Capitalist ownership that determine their conditions of employment and wage rates. Capitalist hire workers only when they can extract ‘surplus value’ which determines their wage rates at the possible minimum level, most of times below subsistence level for majority of working classes. Thus it is Capitalism marked by capitalist ownership and wage labour which constraints ‘abundance’ by putting ceiling on standard of living of masses with meager purchasing power.
Since accumulation of profit is sin qua non of Capitalist production, maintenance of low wage rates is of utmost priority, and to depress wage rates, capitalism relies on mechanism of maintenance of ever existent reserve of unemployed people which Marx referred to as ‘Industrial Reserve army’. Non exhaustion of Labour reserve army is closely linked to cheap labour or depressed wage rates as availability of unemployed labour force makes labour easily replaceable (if I organize and demand high wages I will be fired as there are 10 other unemployed workers in line who are ready to work with lower/subsistence wages.) Presence of Industrial reserve of labour army has another functionality that it generates ‘fear of unemployment’ to prevent any disruptive impact on factory discipline owing to inhumane work conditions or low wages rates, thus taming bargaining power of working class. In word of Warren Creel “It is one of the most outstanding absurdities of Capitalism that millions of workers must be arbitrarily sentenced to suffer from unemployment in order to regulate wage levels for the Economic system”. It’s ironic that mainstream apologia of capitalism stress that capitalism can’t pay decent wages to workers even if it wants to as it has to invest a large amount of profit on merchandising and advertising, when in reality profit accumulation for personal aggrandizement in under- way in vulgar manner reflecting in the rising global inequalities where capitalist class spend millions partying on a personal luxurious yacht whereas majority of working class people to meet basic subsistence requirements– Destitution, hunger and indebtedness rising across countries.
Low standard of living of masses and maintenance of large reserve of labour army are basic premise of Capitalism, As Lenin said “Uneven Development and wretched conditions of masses are fundamental and inevitable conditions and premises of this mode of production. As long as Capitalism remains what it is, surplus Capital will never be utilised for purpose of raising the standard of living of masses in a given country, for this would mean decline in profits for the capitalist; it will be used for the purpose of increasing those profits by exporting capital abroad..” . In this context, billions of Indian rupees being invested abroad by Indian Capitalist to earn huge profit comes at the expense of investing the money in India which could create job avenues for masses.
In populous Bourgeois democracy of India, maintenance and existence of large reserve of unemployed labour army provides for availability of cheap labour, and also serves to maintain Master-slave relationship by creating not only ‘fear of unemployment’ but also strengthening the articulation of feudalism with Capitalism, in face of massive unemployment the vestiges of bonded labour persists, there is absence of free bargaining power with the toiling masses. Moreover the under-development of few regions like Hindi Heartland and lack of employment opportunities there works well for Capitalism, as the migration of labour reserve army from under- developed region to region of high per capita income helps to depress wage rates there. It’s worth noting that the foot soldiers of fascism in contemporary India, incidentally are the lumpenised elements from the same reserve of unemployed labour army which capitalism maintains.
However it has to be realized that need of labour for surplus generation has undergone a massive transformation in recent past, the production process in contemporary phase is based on Capital intensive sector rather than labour intensive sector, which generates surplus without need of significant labour. Thus we witness a trend where dispossession of tribal and farmers is taking place without their conversion into wage labourer. The low levels of employment generation persisting with rising capital accumulation is due to the fact that (unlike as Marx presumed) that labour is no longer prime source of surplus accumulation, rather he/she being ‘unwanted possessor or occupier of economic resources from which she/he must be divorced to free resources for its use in circuit of capital. (Sanyal and Bhattacharya, 2009:35) This phenomenon is dubbed as ‘dispossession without proletarianization’, which is pervasive in most parts of India where capitalist transformation in underway.
Service has become a prime commodity with maturing of Capitalism and this has bearing even on employment as consumption pattern of Rich cream elites that is the commodities that they consume is less labour Intensive than the consumption pattern of less well to do masses. And since they have accumulated wealth and purchasing power and masses are indebted and poor, all the money which goes in consumption of Rich goes back to same rich cream elites who manufacture luxury items using automation, less labour intensive technologies, or own luxury hotel chain, parties, restaurant or pubs and other such ultra luxury avenues, basically catered by (Service industry). And the masses grapple with unemployment, non fulfilment of basic necessities so on. This is one of the reason for rising disparities and unemployment in India.
All above analysis proves that Capitalist mode of production suits the interest of one class (Capitalist) over class (workers) and that all the production process under Capitalism is regulated by only one end of brute profit accumulation in hand of Capitalist ownership. It’s capitalism which put fetters on production of prosperity and abundance for all, Capitalism is inherently an exploitative system, which rest on edifice of low standard of living and terrible work conditions of working classes. Capitalism enforces servitude and bondages, There is no freedom possible.
Despite everyone selling us invincibility of capitalism and that it is possible to rectify issues in capitalism, it has to be acknowledge the prime contradiction in present society is class contradiction which can only be eliminated by overthrow of capitalism. All the false promises of full employment under Capitalism, be it self- employment is deceitful. In history, Capitalism has never ensured full employment for people as it is inherently a demand constraint system, the only economic system in history which was able to exhaust labour reserve army and provide full employment was Socialism of USSR, as Socialism is inherently a labour constraint system, where demand for labour qualitatively exceeds the supply of labour as there are no fetters on production as ownership is commonly held rather than being in hand of few. Let’s make this clarion call again:
Workers of World Unite You have nothing to loose but your chains!
Fight and Defeat the ruling classes of your Nation States!
You have a world to win!