Capitalism

Why our rulers created racism

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Racism is regarded as “natural” or a result of ignorance but, writes Antony Hamilton, the notion of a hierarchy of races has material roots in the birth of capitalism.

Racism is one of the most favoured weapons in the arsenal of the ruling class. Whenever there is economic or political crisis, instead of pointing the finger at a banker, a scapegoat is created, a minority to blame. Donald Trump wants to build a wall to keep Mexicans out and ban Muslims from travelling to the US; Theresa May has blamed migrants for falling wages and “displacement of jobs”, and has prioritised the Tory promise to reduce immigration in her election campaign to the “tens of thousands”.

Fashion: capitalism's favourite child

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From Theresa May’s choice of trousers to the horror of sweatshop labour, fashion is intimately entwined with capitalist relations of production and always has been, writes Anthony Sullivan.

Controversy is never far away from fashion, as Tory prime minister Theresa May discovered just before Christmas when former education secretary Nicky Morgan attacked her choice of £995 Amanda Wakeley leather trousers. Predictably, despite Morgan’s claims to the contrary it transpired that she had spent a similar sum on a Mulberry designer bag.

Can robots usher in a socialist utopia or only a capitalist dystopia?

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Robots and artificial intelligence should improve and ease our working lives, but they always seem to mean job losses and deskilling instead. The age of artificial intelligence is often proclaimed, but is it really just around the corner?

Are robots and artificial intelligence (AI) set to take over the world of work and thus the economy in the next generation? And what does this mean for jobs and living standards for people? Will it mean socialist utopia in our time (the end of human toil and a superabundant harmonious society) or capitalist dystopia (more intense crises and class conflict)?

Why does Capitalism lead to war?

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Death from the sky

The century since the slaughter in the First World War has been littered with endless more bloody wars. Sally Campbell argues the drive to war is not accidental but inherent in the logic of capitalism.

In the 20 years running up to the First World War there were approximately 100 binding agreements between the Great Powers promising peaceful coexistence. The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague was set up in 1899 “with the object of seeking the most objective means of ensuring to all peoples the benefits of a real and lasting peace, and above all, of limiting the progressive development of existing armaments”. This was at the behest of the peace-loving Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (nickname: Bloody Nicholas).

Sport: capitalism at play

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Can Marxism help us make sense of sport? Paul Blackledge mines Tony Collins's Sport in Capitalist Society and Michael Lavalette's collection Capitalism and Sport for some answers.

If the Winter Olympics in Sochi, London 2012, and the World Cup in Brazil prove nothing else, they confirm that sport and politics go together like a horse and carriage - and those who argue otherwise are at best illiterate or more likely ideological.

How socialists should respond to these events is also clear enough - no amount of grand spectacle could ever justify Russia's homophobia or Brazil's social cleansing. And for all its brilliance, the opening ceremony at London 2012 didn't justify the £11 billion spent on the games in a period of austerity.

Why read...Imperialism and World Economy

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Lenin described Nikolai Bukharin's Imperialism and World Economy as essential to understanding not only the economic basis of imperialism, but also its political and social impact.

The book, which was published at the height of the First World War, set out to prove that the war was not a "descent into madness", or to halt "German militarism", but the consequence of the emergence of imperialism, itself a "higher stage" of capitalism.

Bukharin's work was a reply to the tendency at the time to reduce imperialism "to the level of a cuss-word".

Do Migrants lower wages?

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The notion that immigration is putting workers' wages under pressure is widely accepted even among some on the left. Yet this argument is both dangerous and wrong.

In January a much-quoted official study found "nominal wage growth below the rate of price inflation has resulted in real wages falling for the longest sustained period since at least 1964". The figure would have been even more shocking if comparable statistics were available for earlier periods. Many economists agree that British workers are facing the longest fall in their living standards since the 1870s.

Why read Wage-Labour and Capital?

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Wage-Labour and Capital is online at http://bit.ly/187qEer

Karl Marx's pamphlet Wage Labour and Capital first appeared as a series of articles in Neue Rheinische Zeitung, the newspaper that Marx edited during the 1848-9 revolution that swept Germany and Europe.

The articles were based lectures that Marx had given to German workers in Brussels in 1847.

Marx's aim in the pamphlet is to set out and explain "the economic conditions which form the material basis of the present struggles between classes."

Of zombies and cannibals

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With many unprofitable companies avoiding bankruptcy, can capitalism rise from the dead?

Anyone turning to the economics sections of the "high-brow" press recently could be forgiven for thinking they had turned to the film reviews section by mistake. Talk of zombies has been everywhere - but it isn't the latest film from director George Romero they have been discussing. Instead it's "zombie banks", "zombie firms" and even "zombie households" that are the focus of much attention.

States and capital, the banks and the bailouts

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Right wingers usually argue that the state should get out of the way of private capital - that economic problems are caused by an overbearing state or regulation. Jack Farmer argues that the state actually serves to prop up the private sector, a role confirmed by the way that capitalism has evolved in recent years

Tories often say that they don't like the state. They say it's a drag on the economy, dampening the risk-taking creativity of the private sector.

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