CAPITALISM IN CRISIS by Andrew & Bob Sutcliffe Glyn


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This year's nationwide strikes in Britain provide further proof of what Glyn and Sutcliffe call Britain's ""biggest crisis since the war."" Their historical analysis of the British economy documents the decline of profit margins as capitalists are squeezed between worker wage demands and their own inability to raise prices owing to foreign competition; they must then suppress wages to maintain profit margins. Glyn and Sutcliffe further show how British living standards have been held down since World War I through inflation, government wage controls, regressive taxation and periods of mass unemployment. When the workers fought for large wage increases in 1971-72 and got them, capitalist profits were sufficiently reduced to push even major corporations like Rolls-Royce into bankruptcy. Glyn and Sutcliffe's answer to the crisis is unequivocal: ""The only way working-class living standards can now be protected is through a successful revolutionary struggle"" to establish a ""democratic socialism"" under ""workers' control."" Their call for ""abolition of private property and redistribution of the wealth"" presents two problems. Given the book's own excellent documentation of the current underinvestment in British industry, how could mere redistribution ""immediately provide a decent standard of life for everyone"" without massive new production? And how could a workers' government avoid the ""profit squeeze?"" Moreover, the book does not say how workers would recreate necessary investment capital and still maintain living standards. But if their conclusions are incomplete or arguable, the empirical data on wages, investments, profit rates, taxes, government subsidies to business, anti-labor legislation, and the response of the trade unions are invaluable, diminished only slightly by the authors' somewhat uncritical use of government statistics.

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 1972
Publisher: Pantheon