In previous posts I have talked about how neo-liberal 'free' market capitalism is a project which aims to take us back to the 19th Century. Privatisation, de-regulation, outsourcing, and labour market flexibility are all products of neo-liberalism. They are all intended to weaken the rights of working people and their ability to defend their standard of living.
We didn't just get the eight hour day, the weekend, pensions, paid holidays and decent working conditions given to us - our parents and grandparents had to fight for them against capitalist employers who had no intention of reducing their profits for our benefit. We made these gains through organisation, in trade unions and political parties which made democratic gains through the ballot box.
The intention of neoliberalism is to roll back all the gains that working people made, and that would take us back to the 19th century. Neo-liberal politics has been dominant in the west for a generation - it started with Nixon in the USA and Thatcher in the UK. As ever, the Americans are ahead of us. In the USA there are 40 million poor people living in conditions that we in the UK would find shocking. Wages for working people have been static in the USA since the late 1970s, whilst those for the wealthiest have continued to grow ever greater. This isn't about some kind of entrepreneurship as they would like you to think, this is about the rich screwing the people who make them rich - workers.
Today, in the news we were given a glimpse of what '19th century - 21st' century Britain looks like. Romanian children were found labouring near Malvern, picking spring onions. The independent reported:
"The children were among 50 Romanian workers discovered picking spring onions in a field in the Kempsey area of Worcester by the Gangmaster's Licensing Authority (GLA). The seven children, aged between nine and 15, were being made to work from 7.30 in the morning until dusk, dressed in thin summer clothes, as temperatures dropped close to zero."
Of course the Independent, indignant, but missing the point as usual, complained about human trafficking. This isn't human trafficking - its capitalism, pure and simple - this is what capitalism is about. This is what happens when you let the market run without regulation. This is what will happen more and more frequently here and in Europe and America until we bring the market under democratic control. We did it in the past and we can do it again. But when we do it next time we must ensure there is no going back.