Sam Fury discusses what the latest UK recession means for workers, and how hope can be found by looking to socialist countries.
As of the 12th of August, Britain’s economy has once again entered recession, marking the second great recession in my lifetime. Although there are still millions who need jobs, plenty of essential work and all the same raw materials that existed before the recession, jobs will now be lost and lives will be destroyed. Young workers will be asked to reckon with an economic system that is inherently unstable and prone to crashes, yet dictates their job opportunities, the conditions of their communities and ultimately the course of their lives.
Our movement must be prepared to step up its community work in the face of this recession, since we know from experience that it is our working class communities who are hit the hardest by these recessions. In the past, activities like collecting for food banks have been successful, and we must now draw on our experience as activists and our values as communists to fight the impact of this crash on the most vulnerable. We must be prepared to point out the ways in which the rich will use the recession to tighten their stranglehold over Britain’s economy while the rest of us lose out. Crucially, we must spread a clear message to other young workers who will be feeling the effects of this recession: things don’t have to be this way.
Politicians have already started blaming the pandemic for the crash, and that is true to some extent – but it is also true that the signs of a new recession were apparent long before the pandemic. COVID-19 has, at most, accelerated the start of the recession and amplified its effects; as young communists, we must be clear that this crisis was inevitable under capitalism, virus or no virus. Worse still, scapegoating of migrants crossing the Channel is bombarding us through our television screens, in a desperate attempt to distract working people from the true cause of our oppression by pitting us against each other. It is not a virus that has crashed our economy, nor is it the desperation of asylum seekers; it is the instability that is an inexorable part of capitalism. Until we break away from capitalism, we cannot break away from the recessions and the crises that come with it.
The USSR, in all its existence, only had one economic crash. Cuba, despite immense pressures placed on it by its much larger imperialist neighbour, still manages to feed, educate and provide world-class medical care to its people. Vietnam, thought by countries like the US and the UK to be one of the least prepared to face a pandemic has become a world leader in its response to the virus. Meanwhile, those same nations that made these predictions are now asking workers to sacrifice their lives for an economic system that is crashing anyway.
By learning from socialist states throughout history and across the world, we know there is a clear alternative to this disastrous capitalist system. As young workers stare down yet another recession, let’s fight to make that alternative a reality here in Britain. Let’s fight for socialism.