"In a capitalist society, all human relationships are voluntary. Men are free to cooperate or not, to deal with one another or not, as their own individual judgements, convictions and interests dictate."
"Capital is dead labour, which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks."
The obscenity-by-numbers of the capitalist economic system never ceases to amaze me. The Japanese knotweed of the world economy continues to stagger around looking for places to spread its noxious tentacles. The barefaced robberies it commits continue, while it treats those of us who don't get much, if any, benefit from it, like fools.
In this quiet August of endless rain and Brexit madness, when the only news of note is supposed to be based around silly season non-events, RBS (70% owned by the UK taxpayer), announced its first annual half-yearly profit since 2008. The chief executive also announced that even with the half-yearly profit, it still expected to post an annual loss, because of penalties imposed in the USA for its part in the global financial crash of 2008. (It's the ultimate irony that the most capitalist of capitalist societies has far better checks and balances in place to deal with financial irregularities than most other places in the world - apart from Iceland, of course.)
That crash, remember, was caused completely by the last (New) Labour government, which is why ordinary people have had to exist under years of austerity and cuts to vital services - or at least that's according to the Tories. RBS also announced that because of Brexit, this taxpayer-owned bank would reward us all with a big "up yours", by relocating hundreds of jobs to the EU. The biggest kicker of all came with their promise to pay back as much of the bail-out money as possible. As much as possible? Not all of it? Not all of it with compound interest added?
OK, lets just imagine that RBS was an ordinary individual who, through bad life choices, an extravagant lifestyle and an addiction to gambling, was left destitute. In corporate terms that is a very good description of RBS up to 2008. And it is ten years ago to the week that the chairman of RBS rang the chancellor in a panic: "We’re going to run out of money in the early afternoon," he said, knowing that government (also known as the taxpayer) would step in. Now imagine that such an individual approached a bank - like RBS - and said, "bail us out, pay all our debts and although we can't promise not to gamble, we promise not to gamble as recklessly as we did. We can't say exactly when we will pay you back, or that we will even pay you back in full". Can you imagine what the response to that individual would be from a bank - like RBS?
The lesson to learn is that corporations are not people - for example the former behaves in a far more cavalier way, and they certainly enjoy freedoms from the sorts of laws that the rest of us, as individuals or a societal mass, have to follow. No, it's obvious that to neoliberals, whether in what remains of New Labour or the current government, they can only be one game in town. Capitalism, as defined by the mega-corporations, has to be allowed to flourish. RBS will get their way because they always do, and they always have done. They are the job creators, the elite, the money men. They move and they shake. A statistical blip such as the ruination of capitalism itself doesn't stop these people. "Capitalism is dead? In that case let's dig it up and run ten thousand volts of post-capitalism through it."
It's safe to say that the new utopia dreamed up by the RBS's of this world won't have a lot of room for job security, or rights, or universal safety nets. Ten years on from the crash that should have killed capitalism stone dead, here we are, finding new ways to fleece the little people, get round badly drafted legislation, pollute the water and the ground and the skies, and make the mega-rich even richer. Memories aren't short; they're non-existent. Banks are now supposed to have bigger reserves and to have learned lessons. Don't believe a word of it; RBS carries on like it always has done. And like always, it's capitalism for us, and socialism for them.
I'm still waiting for my letter of thanks from RBS for that £45.5bn they borrowed. Perhaps it's gone missing in the post-privatised post?
Phil Gage for Political Provocateur