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Proletarian issue 10 (February 2006)
Letter: No amount of welfare can fix the problems capitalism creates
Dear comrades

As a community health worker, I see the poverty and ocean of human misery capitalism creates every day; people without adequate income, education, healthcare and aspiration. When humans are forced to live this way, they rapidly turn to despair; they lose hope. In turn, this leads to decay within society, its features being crime, drugs, prostitution, declining health, particularly mental health – and always for the working class. It is sad to see the rise in mental health problems in children, as reported in the last issue. Sad and yet predictable, as this is a symptom of the rotten core of a society that puts profit before need.

The apologists of capitalism will say that society responds by providing the welfare state – hospitals, schools, social care etc – to mop up this unpleasant by-product of capitalism. Communists must see the twofold nature of this position and expose it every time it surfaces.

First, we must argue that the welfare state is inadequately resourced. This ‘mopping up system’ never has sufficient resources to combat the problem. There is no profit in welfare. In times of economic boom, capitalism may have a few extra crumbs from the table to offer workers, but workers will never be invited to the feast that is the superprofits their labour creates. In times of economic slump, capitalists try to claw those crumbs back. The best you can hope for is to have schools with failing results, hospitals with treatment for the lucky ones at the front of the queue and guaranteed help only for those who can afford it! Lenin described this process as "reform", and said that communists must be the best fighters for reforms and the best defenders of reforms. Reforms act like first aid for the working class. If you are lucky enough to get it, it helps, but it is not a cure!

Secondly, we must understand that it is ‘how capitalism works’ that creates the problem. This means that fighting for improvement is only a short-term solution. First aid does not replace a doctor’s care! While capitalism survives, it will always create greater pools of misery than any amount of welfare can mop up! In fact, to get better welfare, capitalism must make more profit, creating even more misery along the way. It's like a leaky tap. To get more water, you turn the tap on more, but this increases the leak. The only solution is to fix the leak! The only solution is to destroy capitalism by creating socialism, a system of people before profit. Whilst Lenin recognised the importance of reforms for workers, he always pointed out this second part – that only revolution can bring long-term benefit!

This is the twofold answer to capitalism’s apologists! It is the duty of all communists to understand and spread this message to all workers.

As we see the daily decline in society, it must improve our understanding and harden our resolve to build for revolution. This is not a do-gooder’s academic argument but a life-and-death struggle for the working masses that never ceases to touch their lives.

Comrades, the tap is not dripping but in full flood; we must fix it forever! We must build the vanguard party capable of leading the revolution and thereby establishing socialism, the future for all mankind.

Yours fraternally

Rob Rodgers


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