Capitalism

The original date of publication and author of this historical IRSP document is unknown, but the ideas herein are consistent with past and present IRSP economic thought.

Capitalism marks only a short stage in human history. For the first time in that history during the 19th century the vast majority of a people in a country came to be employed in a new economic system in which goods were produced for sale only and not for personal consumption. That is the prevailing reality in all countries where Capitalism is the system.

In Ireland, as in all Capitalist countries, our lives depend on the market - on buying and selling.

In the 19th century, Capitalism originated in Britain - since then the system spread throughout the globe. Capitalism gave birth to our class - the working class. As a class, our people earn their living by selling their power to labour to Capitalists, whose money and position enable them to employ us to make a profit for them, thus enabling them to accumulate more and more money...so employed - money is capital.

The Capitalist system, however, contains within it the seeds of decay and the basis for revolution, opening the way to a new and better society (It is subject to economic crises, wars and bitter class struggles).

To survive, Capitalism must accumulate more and more profit to invest in ever larger scale production, the reason being to bring in more profit. But the greater the accumulation of capital, the more profit is required to finance investment in capital expansion. Also, the more profit the Capitalists extract from the labour of the workers, the less money they, the workers, have left, relatively, to buy the goods on which the profits have to be made. The drive for more and more profits leads to the formation of monopolies to ever increasing rivalry between monopolies, groups of monopolies and their governments, for new labour to exploit, new sources of raw materials, new markets and new ventures for capital investment. Such rivalries tend to cause wars and it was such rivalries which caused two world wars and many minor conflicts during the course of human society since the birth of Capitalism. Of course the Capitalist-financed and -subsidised history books present different causes for armed conflicts but an objective study will reveal the true causal factors.

Many factors have been referred to as being the reason or cause for the Irish fight for national liberation and self-determination, but, in essence, as Connolly contended, the Irish fight for freedom is a fight against Capitalism, a fight for a more equal and prosperous society, namely Socialism. Thus in Ireland, Capitalism and its higher form, Imperialism, provokes the oppressed majority, namely the working class, to rebel and destroy the system which puts profit before people. Therefore, not only does Capitalism cause armed conflict between Capitalist countries, it also causes rebellion against itself, thus confirming our previous contention that within it, Capitalism contains the seed of its own destruction within a given society. This ultimately implies that Socialism defined as production for use and not for profit is the only assurance for an end to human conflict and the establishment of world peace.

FURTHER DEVELOPMENT: THE ADVENT OF CAPITALISM

At the beginning of the 20th century, Capitalist industry and finance in the leading Capitalist countries was no longer just the business of large numbers of medium-size and small firms all competing with each other for their share of a market over which none of them had any influence.

To a significant and growing extent, such business was carried on by firms large enough to exercise quite a considerable influence over the market, with consequent ability to fix prices above the level that would have been arrived at by more open competition. Thereby such monopolies were able to gain super profits - thus the advent of Monopoly Capitalism. Monopoly Capitalism rests upon the concentration and centralisation of capital.

Such enlarged concentration of capital requires the creation of larger and larger firms, from the point of view of capital value. Thus the tendency is for capital to be centralised in fewer and fewer larger firms. The logical conclusion of this would be one enormous worldwide monopoly.

The growth of Monopoly Capitalism led to such phenomena as the creation of international monopolies, the large-scale export of capital to extend the activities of monopolies, the acquisition of colonies and spheres of influence by the national states that backed the national monopolies. This whole development of Monopoly Capitalism, with its increasing reliance on the armed force of the national states is Imperialism.

Monopoly Capitalism or Imperialism is still rent by the contradictions of the Capitalist system, only on an enlarged scale.

The term "State Monopoly Capitalism" is used to denote the form of development of Monopoly Capitalism in the period since the Second World War.

The state played an increasing role in supporting the Capitalist system from the start of the period of Monopoly Capitalism around the beginning of the present century (2Oth). Since the Second World War, however, Capitalist states have assumed a more powerful supportive and directive role in Monopoly Capitalism.

In varying ways and degrees, the national state governments subsidised Capitalist development, controlled demand and supply through the tax and monetary systems and now seek to extend their control over wages and labour, in the interest of maximizing profit.

The growth in the scope and power of monopolies has increased the tendency for prices to be fixed and to be raised to allow for increased profits to finance the ever-increasing scale of capital outlays. For workers, wage increases are a defence against monopoly price-raising and against Capitalist exploitation in the interest of maximizing profits.

The Capitalist price-raising tendency has been supported by a sustaining growth in the flood of credit created by the spreading network of banks and other institutions of finance capital (closely linked with monopolistic industrial firms).

At present, the world Capitalist economy is dominated by the United States of America. The U.S. outpouring of dollars to finance war expenditure and foreign investment created a vast new supply of money and capital in the so-called Euro-currency and Euro-capital markets. All this has added to the inflation which the Western world is experiencing at present (and which results from the contradictions within Capitalism).

A popular definition of inflation is of "too much money chasing too few goods," money being an essential factor in the inflationary process. It is a fact that the growth in circulation of paper money in its various forms, including that of bank credit, has grown out of all proportion to the growth in the output of goods. Yet money is just one of a number of vital factors in the problem of inflation.

The postwar inflation is a product of the whole set-up of Monopoly Capitalism. Ireland has particularly suffered from it, both because of our dependence on world trade and because of the economy's relatively slow growth in industrial efficiency and productivity consequent upon a low rate of new investment. In such conditions the Irish Capitalists' response to wage increases is the raising of prices more than in other Capitalist countries. Also, the disastrous decision to enter the European Economic Community is a factor not to be overlooked when viewing or considering the present plight of the Irish working class and other depressed sections of our society.

The present crisis of Capitalism presents grave problems for the Irish working class. It also presents new opportunities in the struggle for national liberation and Socialism (against imperialism).

Alongside a judicious and clinical military campaign, the working class and its allies must fight united in defence of and for the improvement of its living standards and its democratic rights. The relevance of armed struggle must be seen clearly by the workers and their families (the latter includes the unemployed). The Irish working class must be convinced that national liberation and self-determination is a must if they are going to share equally the wealth of their nation. The workers must fight to secure increases in wages, in pensions and all social benefits, by securing a price freeze, supported if necessary by outsiders, especially on food, by freezing rents and rates. They must demand the democratic right to bargain for higher wages and better conditions and to organise effectively, without interference by dictatorial laws and so on...

Finally, the policies of the Republican Socialist Movement are revolutionarily correct. Of course they are open to further development but as they stand at present, they are the only assurance that Capitalism will be defeated in this country. This does not imply, however, that national liberation and a Socialist Ireland is just around the corner. There are many years of struggle still ahead. The policies alone, however, are useless unless there is a vehicle to ensure their expression and implimentation. With this in mind, I re-emphasise the need for our Movement to become the Revolutionary Vanguard. It is about time that we abandoned the play-school of infantile politics and graduated to the alma mater of revolutionary politics. By "infantile politics," I mean and refer to the tact that amongst our members there are those who place more emphasis on armed struggle to the detriment of other forms of struggle. Equally, however, there are those who place more emphasis on other aspects of struggle to the detriment of armed struggle. What is needed is a combination of both - a true balance of revolutionary means. Otherwise, the dominance of one form of struggle will ensure our separation from the majority of our class, whereas the dominance of another form of struggle will ensure that our class lies at the mercy of the armed and repressive agents of Capitalism. In fact, they may not be, in the strict sense, at the mercy of the latter agents, for they may be conditioned to believe that what they desire can be attained by extra-parliamentary and -constitutional means. This, of course, would be a great betrayal, for only fools believe that Capitalism can be overthrown by pacifist means. The overthrow of Capitalism and its higher form, Imperialism, involves the inclusion of a rational supportive military campaign associated with the every day struggles of our class. The author/speaker here implies, for example, that if the Broad Front becomes a reality, and if its existence ensures the establishment of a "Democratic Secular Republic," the Republican Socialist Movement must ensure the prevalence of armed struggle in order to ensure the attainment of the Workers State. Otherwise, within the context of an all-Ireland Secular Republic, the IRSP could fall into the trap of becoming a mere "reformist party" persuing a Socialist society by peaceful means. Of course, the Chilean experience should convince us of the absurdity and negative character of such a pursuit. As the Party supports the present armed struggle to get rid of the British and Imperialism, it must continue to support "an armed struggle" or "continuing armed struggle" to defeat native Irish Capitalism in the cause of Socialism.