Year 2000 No. 24, February 10, 2000

Northern Ireland Bill 2000:

Condemn the Move to Bring Back Direct Rule!

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index : Discuss

Northern Ireland Bill 2000:
Condemn the Move to Bring Back Direct Rule!

Readers Forum:
On Overproduction

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Northern Ireland Bill 2000:

Condemn the Move to Bring Back Direct Rule!

The Northern Ireland Bill was pushed through the House of Commons on Tuesday in a single session. It has gone to the House of Lords and is set to receive the Royal Assent on Friday. This development is directly opposed to what is required to resolve the situation and allow the Peace Process to move forward, and must be condemned.

The Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Mandelson, said the legislation would come into force unless the IRA started decommissioning within days. The move to introduce the Bill was condemned by Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Féin, who said the prospect of direct rule was the greatest threat yet to the peace process. ``Suspending the institutions will not resolve the arms issue,'' Gerry Adams said after talks in London with Tony Blair. ``On the contrary, it suggests the British government do not value those institutions, and it will make the resolution of the arms issue more difficult,'' he said. ``In our view, the Good Friday agreement is under the greatest threat so far since it came into existence. We have advanced our process much farther in a much shorter time, than the one in the Middle East. Are we going to squander all of that?'' he asked. Gerry Adams said a legal challenge was one of the last-ditch options which could be considered by Sinn Féin if the government went ahead with the Bill to bring back direct rule from Westminster.

It is the British government who must be held responsible for present state of affairs. For over seventy years the bourgeoisie has been incapable of finding a peaceful solution to end the partition of Ireland. With the setting up of the Northern Ireland Assembly and an all-Irish dimension, the Irish people were on track to build their nation anew. The demand that the IRA decommission if the Northern Ireland Assembly is not to be suspended is a complete diversion from the real issue. What right does the British government have to side with the Unionists and not the Republicans? Have they not declared that the Irish people have a right to self-determination and admitted that the six counties are disputed territory? But it was the British government who did their utmost to set up the Northern Ireland Assembly to institutionalise the divisions between the "two communities". The fact is that the British and Irish bourgeoisies only want the reunification of Ireland on their terms, not that of the Irish working class or the Irish people as a whole. It should also be grasped that the division of Ireland results not just in the division of the Irish people, but also the perpetuation of animosities between the Irish and the British. Should not the conclusion be drawn that the government wishes to derail the process of the peaceful reunification of Ireland in order that the domination not only of Ireland but also of England, Scotland and Wales by the British financial oligarchy is maintained?

The British working class has a decisive role to play. Not only must they first of all condemn the British government for its role at this juncture, but they must break with all the chauvinism promoted by the bourgeoisie and rise up to ensure an end to all interference from these shores in the Irish people’s affairs, challenge the class rule of the financial oligarchy and push forward their own programme for their rights and interests, including for modern sovereign states of England, Scotland, Wales as well as Ireland.

Article Index


Readers’ Forum

On Overproduction

(WDIE reply to reader’s query, continued from issues No. 14 and No. 18, January 27 and February 2)

Having examined in concrete terms what is the context of the redundancies of 650 workers at Fort Dunlop and the "restructuring" world-wide of which it is a part, let us for a moment dwell on the analysis of the phenomenon of overproduction in the writings of the leaders of the world proletariat, of Marx, Engels and Lenin.

When Marx and Engels were writing the Manifesto of the Communist Party, the "Communist Manifesto", published in 1848, it would be 50 years before capitalism, developing according to the economic laws of motion which Marx himself discovered in their scientific form, was poised to enter its final stage of imperialism. Nevertheless, the phenomenon of overproduction was a marked feature of capitalism in the mid-19th century.

Marx and Engels write:

"Modern bourgeois society with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer, who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells. For many a decade past the history of industry and commerce is but the history of the revolt of modern productive forces against modern conditions of production, against the property relations that are the conditions for the existence of the bourgeoisie and of its rule. It is enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return put on its trial, each time more threateningly, the existence of the entire bourgeois society. In these crises a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity – the epidemic of over-production. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilisation, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. The productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered, and so soon as they overcome these fetters, they bring disorder into the whole of bourgeois society, endanger the existence of bourgeois property. The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them. And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented."

This passage underlines that is the "relations of production, of exchange and of property" in capitalist society, the "property relations that are the conditions for the existence of the bourgeoisie and of its rule" – relations which still prevail today and which have become extremely stagnant, anachronistic, retrogressive and destructive – which underlie the crises caused by overproduction.

Or take this passage from Frederick Engels’ Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, where he is briefly sketching capitalist society:

"… Production has become a social act. Exchange and appropriation continue to be individual acts, the acts of individuals. The social product is appropriated by the individual capitalist. Fundamental contradiction, whence arise all the contradictions in which our present-day society moves, and which modern industry brings to light.

"… Unbridled competition. Contradiction between socialised organisation in the individual factory and social anarchy in production as a whole.

"… unheard-of development of productive forces, excess of supply over demand, over-production, glutting of the markets, crises every ten years, the vicious circle: excess here, of means of production and products – excess there, of labourers, without employment and without means of existence. But these two levers of production and of social well-being are unable to work together, because the capitalist form of production prevents the productive forces from working and the products from circulating, unless they are first turned into capital – which their very superabundance prevents. The contradiction has grown into an absurdity. The mode of production rises in rebellion against the form of exchange. The bourgeoisie are convicted to incapacity further to manage their own social productive forces.

"… Partial recognition of the social character of the productive forces forced upon the capitalists themselves. Taking over of the great institutions for production and communication, first by joint-stock companies, later on by trusts, then by the state. The bourgeoisie demonstrated to be a superfluous class…

"…Proletarian Revolution – Solution of the contradictions. The proletariat seizes the public power, and by means of this transforms the socialised means of production, slipping from the hands of the bourgeoisie, into public property. By this act, the proletariat frees the means of production from the character of capital they have thus far borne, and gives their socialised character complete freedom to work itself out. Socialised production upon a predetermined plan becomes henceforth possible…"

With the growth of capitalism into monopoly capitalism and imperialism, all the contradictions of capitalism are aggravated to the extreme; the necessity for revolution to resolve these problems, far from becoming an increasingly remote prospect, becomes the issue of the day, the problem taken up for solution. The development of large-scale production, the relentless concentration of production and capital in fewer hands, the growth of finance capital, the export of capital around the world, the division of the world amongst the imperialist powers – none of this has negated the basic economic laws of capitalism discovered by Marx. The present objective conditions only reconfirm the validity of Marx’s analysis and point even more forcibly to the need for the working class to resolve the contradictions of capitalism by seizing the "public power".

When capitalism had proceeded to the stage of monopoly capitalism, Lenin showed that the economic laws of motion of capitalism, far from being eliminated, were still governing its development. Capital and production had been concentrated on a large scale, and this had intensified the class antagonisms. In his monumental work, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Lenin described how capitalism had developed into the stage of monopoly capitalism, capitalist imperialism. He showed how the features of monopoly capitalism, its moribund and parasitic character, had developed on the basis of the economic laws discovered by Marx: the growth of concentration of capital and production and the emergence of monopolies; the development of finance capital through the merging of industrial capital and bank capital under the domination of the banks; the export of capital; and the division of the world among the capitalist monopolies and the imperialist powers. He described imperialism as the stage of capitalism when the revolution is the order of the day, the problem taken up for solution. In particular, Lenin analysed the operation of the basic economic law of capitalism under modern conditions of monopoly capitalism and concluded that the capitalists seek maximum profits by exacting tribute from every cell of the society.

Lenin writes:

"Official science tried, by a conspiracy of silence, to kill the works of Marx, who by a theoretical and historical analysis of capitalism proved that free competition gives rise to the concentration of production, which, in turn, at a certain stage of development, leads to monopoly. Today monopoly has become a fact."

He goes on:

"Cartels come to an agreement on the conditions of sale, terms of payment, etc. They divide the markets among themselves. They fix the quantity of goods to be produced. They fix prices. They divide the profits among the various enterprises, etc."

And further:

"Competition becomes transformed into monopoly. The result is immense progress in the socialisation of production. In particular, the process of technical invention and improvement becomes socialised.

"… Production becomes social, but appropriation remains private. The social means of production remain the private property of a few. The general framework of formally recognised free competition remains, but the yoke of a few monopolists on the rest of the population becomes a hundred times heavier, more burdensome and intolerable.

"… The statement that cartels can abolish crises is a fable spread by bourgeois economists who at all costs desire to place capitalism in a favourable light. On the contrary, monopoly which is created in certain branches of industry, increases and intensifies the anarchy inherent in capitalist production as a whole

"Crises of every kind – economic crises most frequently, but not only these – in their turn increase very considerably the tendency towards concentration and towards monopoly…"

The concentration and centralisation of production and capital have continued apace since Lenin was writing in 1916. They have deepened the exploiting nature of imperialism at the same time as leading to an even more extensive socialisation of production. At its current stage of development, the entire society is made to pay tribute to the rich, and the governments finance the rich on a continuous basis. Society is completely dominated by the financial oligarchy. The capitalist system has long since moved from the boom and bust economy on a ten-year cycle described by Engels. When production has been socialised to the maximum, when the conditions are crying out that the relations of production must be revolutionised and the ownership of the means of production socialised, for the working class to constitute itself as the nation and institute a planned socialist economy, the apologists for the system are calling for more globalisation, for all opposition to the domination by the financial oligarchy to be ended. But to take society out of its crisis, the motive of production itself must be changed and the direction of the economy made to serve the needs of the people.

(to be continued)

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