It is an undeniable reality, accepted by anyone who pays the concept any amount of attention, that unemployment is an inherently negative thing. It perpetuates poverty, forces people to use the welfare system and puts certain parts of the younger generation at an inherent disadvantage. So then, why hasn’t this problem been solved?
The Causes of Unemployment
Why does unemployment exist? Is it lazy people, too stupid to get a job, as tabloids would love you to believe?
Of course not. Anyone who has ever tried to get a job knows that it is immensely difficult to find one, and that if you do, the terms of the job are so awful that it’s not worth going to it, often with mindless, repetitive labour for minimal pay on zero hours contracts.
The reason for unemployment is capitalism.
The capitalists, those who control employment and can assign jobs at their discretion, use unemployment as a tool of subordination and repression/ By having their reserve army of the unemployed, they can intimidate those who do have jobs – go on strike, demand a raise or do anything your boss doesn’t like and you can be replaced immediately by the 4.3% of the population who don’t have a job, and who are forced to live on a pitiful benefits allowance that can be as low as £50 a week.
This forms division among the masses as well. Those who do not have a job resent those who do, and those who do have a job hate the unemployed for being a threat to their job. Right wing media publications such as the Daily Mail and Telegraph love to capitalise on this, with regular articles about ‘benefit scroungers’ and ‘habitual slackers’, to whip up the hysteria of division among the working class; to distract the workers from their reals enemies – those who enforce this system of unemployment.
Young people are told that to get a job in today’s age is “a great opportunity”, something that you should be grateful for, for the wonderful benevolence of the corporate billionaire for allowing you to earn £5.50 an hour. Young people are some of the least represented in unions – only 2.9% of workers aged 16-20 are unionised – and so the capitalists are free to do with them as they please, underpaying and overworking young people in unsanitary and unsafe conditions.
How Unemployment can be Solved
How do we get rid of unemployment once and for all, how can we make sure that everyone who’s fit to work has a job that pays them fairly, that guarantees them workplace rights and that gives them a friendly community in the workplace?
Let us first get rid of any doubt: Capitalism can not, and will not, solve this problem for any period of time. Any reductions in unemployment rates under capitalism are only temporary. For the very reasons discussed above, it is simply against all interests of those who, like parasitic puppet masters, pull the strings of the system in all ways.
The masses cannot put their hopes in shallow reforms promised by such sycophants as the Labour Party, who promise long-lasting change but consistently fail to deliver. We must look to an altogether more radical solution.
There is only one system which could even possibly give a guaranteed future of full employment, which has full employment as one of its core and unchangeable principles,and which looks for the masses to rule themselves, as opposed to being represented and repressed by silver spoon millionaires who’ve never done a day’s work in their lives. That system is Socialism.
Socialists, through our understanding of the workings of society, consider employment not to be a mere privilege, bestowed upon those who suck upon the wretched boot of Capital in a humble enough manner, something to be rightfully restricted from the rabble of society, but a right, one which should be afforded to all who wish to accept it. We believe employment to be as much of an unalienable right as any other freedom. This belief of ours leads us to strive for, and succeed in, giving all people the opportunity for employment.
Real World Examples
The first example we will deal with is the UK, a nation strangled by the clutches of Capital, using their unemployment statistics for the last three years.
In January 2014, the UK’s percent unemployment was: 6.8%
In January 2017, the UK’s percent unemployment was: 5.5%
In January 2016, the UK’s percent unemployment was: 5.1%
While, granted, this is going down, that is following the worst recession since the Great Depression, so the magnitude must be placed in the context of that. It is also poignant to note that while this statistic may be low-ish now, the Capitalist unemployment rate is a fluctuating mess. For one quick example, The unemployment rate in the mid 1980s was as high as +12%!
Now, time to contrast that with the percent unemployment of the USSR, a nation which could, to a certain extent, boast a liberating Socialist system. Their unemployment, on average, after the development of Socialism, was only 1.5%. And this employment was in favour of the workers: prior to the October Revolution, the average working day in Russia was 11.5 hours, after it, it was 8 hours, and for higher pay.
Women were given equal rights to men, and active steps were taken to allow more women to enter the workforce, by providing free nurseries and daycares, community dining rooms and laundrettes, in order to free women from the domestic drudgery to which the patriarchal system of Tsarism had condemned them to. While women in the West were still fighting for basic human rights (marital rape wasn’t made illegal in Britain until 1991!) Soviet women were protected by the law and given absolute equality to men in all fields.
Unemployment was so low in the USSR, and employment so fruitful, because it was built by the workers for the workers, it was a socialist state.
How, in the face of such an overwhelming disparity, could anyone claim Capitalism can, or that Socialism cannot, solve the dreaded issue of unemployment?
Unemployment cannot end without the death of capitalism and the building of a new system superior to it in every way. We must cease putting our faith in parliamentary Etonians and start putting our faith in ourselves – we can build a system where jobs are available for all who can work and where even the lowest paid job can sustain us comfortably. It is not a case of we could – it is a case of we must.