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Proletarian issue 60 (June 2014)
No cure for the intractable social problems and human misery created by capitalism
A social worker reflects on the difficulty and frustration of their job under capitalism and on the need to fight for the alternative.
It’s 8.30am and business has started for the day. Orders are in and are distributed to the workers to meet the demand. There is no food being served here – unless you count a quick coffee, a piece of toast or a bowl of cereal. Is this the last part of the breakfast rush at McDonalds? No, this is the start of a day in a social work office in Britain.

This is where the day’s activities come in and are given to workers – sometimes before their arrival in the office. Up and down the country, the day starts this way for many social workers.

There are of course many strands to the question as to why abuse and neglect occur in our ‘developed’ society. However, when looking at contributing factors, and by using a more scientific frame of reference, we can see that the divide between those who have and those who do not is widening on a daily basis.

When it comes to people in need of help in our society, who are generally already marginalised, when they actually get to the counter of ‘service delivery’, there’s usually nothing there. Why? Because the government has pilfered and plundered the coffers that were formerly put aside to deal with social problems in an attempt to conjure solutions to the economic problems that they themselves have systematically created.

I was informed recently by an ex-manager that one local authority in London spent £2.5m on frontline office space! Meanwhile, services were cut by between 15-23 percent at a time when so many people are already suffering on account of government austerity policies. One manager left, as he felt he and his team were making absolutely no difference to the children and families they are supposedly employed to help.

I am always very aware of the public money I spend in order to safeguard children. But I also have gto ask myself: why is that it in such a developed and rich country like Britain, that we cannot create a decent society where children don’t face such problems in the first place?

‘Oh no, not a communist alternative, that won’t work at all,’ many people still say. I pose the question: why not? Why do we need to further oppress and repress the marginalised instead of providing a decent life for all?

Surely if we simply followed the communist maxim of ‘to each according to their need’, then there is enough for everyone? Would I really have to fight so hard if a truly just society existed? I doubt it very much.

The corporate media keep telling us that we are coming out of a double (or even triple) dip recession. But looking over the landscape of futility and hopelessness within the families I work with, this doesn’t appear very credible. Too many people’s prospects remain bleak as they face on a daily basis the horrendous scourges of the poor – domestic disputes, inescapable threats of violence, the alcohol and drug misuse arising from the futile longing to escape, the poverty and the real lack of the basics such as even beds and bedding etc, which I regularly witness, visiting houses where children sleep on the floor.

It amazes and saddens me that we are considered a ‘progressive’ country with a growing economy. The right-wing media recycle these notions, at best reinforcing the falsehood that capitalism will get us out of this mess by creating industry and jobs and at worst all too frequently blaming the poor and castigating them as scroungers for not going out to get one of the non-existent adequately remunerated jobs on offer!

The big political parties, with their monolithic devotion to capitalism, continue to exploit and cheat the masses, and to back up the narrative of the corporate press. This in turn leads to people becoming confused and side-tracked – fooled into thinking that issues such as immigration are the cause of their misery.

The ‘debate’ between the big bourgeois parties is a charade and a game. They all exist to serve the capitalist system, which is why, on closer examination, many of their policies turn out to be simply repackaged and redrafted from those of their predecessors in the parliamentary ‘magic roundabout’. As their job is to help their masters maximise profit, they must inevitably seek to squeeze public spending.

All over the world, capitalism is in crisis. This inevitably has far-reaching effects on the services that people are – or increasingly are not – receiving from governments.

So what is the alternative? Only socialism holds the answer to capitalism’s inherent contradictions and crises. In taking a Marxist-Leninist approach, we can establish the rule of the working class and build a society for all – one does that not measure success by personal gain or wealth.

Given the cancerous nature of capitalism and the effects it has had on the world, we urgently need to study the science of Marxism and learn how to apply the only available cure to our problems. This means building a truly Marxist-Leninist party that can lead a revolutionary struggle for the overthrow of the capitalist state and the establishment of a dictatorship of the working people – the vast majority. We need to begin that struggle now.

As Primo Levi once said: “If not now, when?
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