We only have one shot at life. Consigning workers to periods of prolonged idleness is a criminal waste of talent and an indictment of this flawed society that treats us as just flotsam and jetsam. For unemployment is endemic in capitalism, and it is a form of violence against the working class, which results in many woes – economic distress, demoralisation, family disruption, malnutrition, ill health and a debilitating separation from the world of work.
Before the capitalist era, unemployment on a mass scale rarely existed, except during wars and natural disasters. Yet permanent levels of unemployment are a contrived feature of life in societies where working populations are dependent on selling their labour power for a wage or salary. Bourgeois society’s main purpose is to have the commodity, labour, available as cheaply as possible; this it achieves through the creation of a reserve army of the unemployed.
Capitalism’s aim is not only to submerge the unemployed in a sea of poverty, a potential pool of cheaper labour, but also to diminish the power and integrity of the whole working class. Divide and rule. Currently there are over 2,430,000 people registered as out of work in Britain; 7.7 per cent of the economically active population – including 938,000 young people aged between 16 and 24, 15.6 per cent of their age group.
Capitalism is glaringly incapable of fulfilling its own stated reason for existence, namely to exploit people’s labour power in order to make a profit. There will always be a substantial core of people redundant and excluded under its regime. It is the anachronism capitalism that should be declared redundant.
Work generates dignity and skill. It allows a class to unite and assemble its strength and power. So given the importance of work, how do we tackle the problem of unemployment? Not by organising ritualistic protest marches, endless re-runs of the Jarrow march. The unemployed must never be disunited from those employed, unspoken of, hidden away from our agenda. The answer to unemployment is employment. Which is why our Party’s founding chairman coined the demand, “The Right To Work”. Our class’s natural reflex used to be to explore collective strength and industrial action to defend or expand the number of jobs. Then, in 1965, the Labour government introduced the calamity of the Redundancy Payments Act and more workers were tempted to chase ‘fool’s gold’ instead.
Our class has to defend jobs, contest reductions, save as many jobs as possible. Workers need to argue for the creation of jobs and apprenticeships for the young, the next reservoir of skill. The baton of working class power has to be handed over to the next generation.