Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Lucy Turnbull recently wrote a think piece in the Sydney Morning Herald triumphantly declaring that despite the Global Financial Crisis and the market excesses that led to that crisis, that capitalism is the only viable system we have for organising our economies. Well Lucy, I wonder if that is what those who survive by scrabbling for food in rubbish heaps in the Phillipines think? Or those in the townships in South Africa who have been waiting now for a very long time for better housing, education and health services? Or those in rural Australia who don’t get heard in the babble of an election contest when they try to talk about real issues, but the electorate is too busy wondering about Julia’s hair and Tony’s ears.? Bob Katter should have shaken the apologists for capitalism with his recent statement that after 12 years of Coalition Government implementing an economic rationalist and deregulatory agenda, there was a farmer suiciding every four days. What a great triumph for capitalism!

History tells us that capitalism is nothing without its opposite, socialism. Capitalism and Socialism should live in a perpetual duality, a balance. Socialism tempers capitalist excess. Capitalism can temper Socialism. Abolish, crush, abandon socialist ideas, and capitalist excess flourishes. Lucy simplistically talks about socialism as the command economies of Stalinism, but socialism takes many more forms and philosophies than the oppression of Stalinism. Interestingly in the first few years after the Russian Revolution, before the terrors of Stalinism took hold, the economy flourished, not just through the efforts of local Russian industrial, post war reconstruction but because of the co-operation with American and European Business. Not many people now remember that Henry Ford had a car factory in the Soviet Union in the 1920 and 1930s. The prosperity of the post war co-operative reconstruction was blown away by the terrible and stupid mistakes of Stalinism and the terror economy.

But socialism is much much more than this. Socialist ideas inspired the early trade unionists, and still inspire them today. Trade unionists know that they need a political party to take their demands forward in the realm of government, and so the Labor Party was formed. Socialist ideas underpin the formation of the Green Party. Small liberals in the Liiberal National Coalition espouse socialist ideas when they support welfare for the aged or single mothers. Without the regulation that socialism requires to achieve social objectives over economic rationalist objectives, deregulation allows the sharks and shonks of capitalism to rip people off. Greed is not good! And there is a price to pay down the track for all that greed, and we are now paying it. And there is more to come. The Global Financial Crisis is not yet over. On Four Corners on Monday 23rd August 2010, we were reminded that we are now living in the biggest bubble of all time. The PIGS countries, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain are using borrowed monies to repay debts. The bubble is expanding. It is going to blow. And we are going to see the worst recession, if not depression since the Great Depression. And as Franklin Roosevelt taught us, the only way out of the coming recession or depression is the implementing of socialist based ideas and programs.

It is not fashionable to talk about socialism these days as the horrors of Stalinism in the 20th century equate socialism with death, destruction and economic decay. But socialism survives in all its inspirations and its forms. It must be defended, and so we must fight for the rightful place of unions in our society, and the achievement of the social democratic objectives of the left of centre political parties. The capitalist agenda of economic rationalism, globalisation and productivity and efficiency as the basis of the distribution of wealth have led us into the recent Global Financial Crisis and the coming Crisis. Unless we recognise the duality of Capitalism and Socialism there is a lot more pain in our economic life to come