Class war in an imperialist economy: Condition of the poor in the bourgeois democracy

Homeless in UK

Someone may be in confusion – what the country’s political system is – a kingdom or a republic? Whatever the political system’s nomenclature suggests, it’s bloody sure that the system is a bourgeois democracy with a long history of bloody bust ups among factions of dominating classes in the process of bourgeois revolution.  Conspiracies, bloodshed, killings, murders, seizures and confiscations of properties and rights including religious perks, cabals in and with legislature and legislative measures, and wars including class wars and wars for occupation and expansion dominated the economy’s politics for power over decades and decades, centuries. The economy excavated rivers of blood while occupying and plundering countries around the world. It, thus, accumulated mountains of treasures. But, all wealth was for a few wealthy while the multitude of poor continued with suffering in the exploitative system. This reality has yet not changed in the imperialist economy – UK.     

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a London-based leading think tank, finds stretches of poverty, inequality, dispossession, inability to access facilities essential for life – all germinating from exploitative system, in the imperialist economy. A burning example of capitalism it is. The system’s capacity and level of efficiency also come to light with the findings.     

A CSJ report, Two Nations: The State of Poverty in the UK, an interim report on the state of the nation1 (henceforth, TN), “argues that the most disadvantaged in Britain are no better off than 15 years ago – the time of the financial crash[…]”2

The CSJ, in its “far-reaching inquiry […] into the state of the nation” finds that “the pandemic lockdowns had a catastrophic effect on the nation’s social fabric, especially for the least well off, where the gap between the so-called ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ was blown wide open.”

The TN said:

Deep divide: The country is deeply divided. There are those who are getting by and there are those who are not. Those left behind face multiple disadvantage and entrenched poverty. For these people, work is barely worth it, their lives are marked by generations of family breakdown, their communities are torn apart by addictions and crime, they live in poor quality, expensive, and insecure housing, and they are sick. […] 40 per cent of the most deprived report having a mental health condition compared to just 13 per cent of the general population.

Yawning gap: A yawning gap between those who can get by and those stuck at the bottom. This gap was stretching apart after years of increased family fragility, stagnating wages, poor housing, and frayed community life, but the lockdown implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic was the dynamite that blew it open. During lockdown: calls to a domestic abuse helpline rose 700 per cent; mental ill-health in young people went from one in nine to one in six; and nearly a quarter amongst the oldest children; severe school absence jumped by 134 per cent; 1.2 million more people went on working-age benefits; 86 per cent more people sought help for addictions; prisoners were locked up for more than 22 hours per day, and a household became homeless every three minutes.

The TN referred to the report Breakdown Britain3, (henceforth, BB), a report prepared 20 years ago. The BB investigated condition of life at the bottom of the society. It “identified family breakdown, addiction, worklessness, serious personal debt, and educational failure as the key drivers of poverty and disadvantage across the” country. About 20 years later, the TN again looks into “those five key areas and provides an in-depth analysis of life in the most disadvantaged communities today”; and it found: “A situation which got worse as a result of successive lockdowns.”

The TN finds:

Path to poverty: Poverty is more complex than ever. Twenty years later [since the BB’s findings], the pathways to poverty remain the same, but the costs have grown. The BB uncovered five key pathways into poverty that could not be understood as purely concerning income: family breakdown, debt, worklessness, educational failure, and addiction. The Breakthrough Britain (henceforth, BrB), a report following BB, found that the cumulative costs of family breakdown, educational failure, and crime cost the British state £102 billion per year (£165 billion today adjusted for inflation). The TN finds Cost Per Annum to Public Services of Issues Facing Society:  poor quality housing – £1.4 billion [cost/per year (henceforth, cpy)], harmful gambling – £1.77 billion [cpy], family breakdown – £51 billion [cpy], excluded children – £2.1 billion [cpy], Skills and labour shortages – £39 billion [cpy], sickness causing lost productivity – £43 billion [cpy], lack of housebuilding – £17 billion [cpy], domestic abuse – £2.4 billion [cpy], low numeracy skills – £25 billion [cpy],  low literacy skills – £80 billion [cpy], crime – £59 billion [cpy]. The cost-of-living crisis has put immeasurable pressure on communities who suffer the effects of social breakdown. Those at the bottom of society barely feel a number of benefits4; rather, they experience that life has become more difficult, challenges have become more complex, and poverty has become more entrenched.

Work: For many of the poorest people, work is not worth it. For those who can work, while work remains the best way to get out of poverty, substantial barriers to work remain, meaning that not all work is providing the route out of poverty that it should be. [….] There’s a period of significant change to the UK labour market including the rise of the gig economy and the increased use of zero-hours contracts which have both increased the insecurity of work. For some people, the majority of work available to them offers low pay and no opportunity for progression. [….] The Living Wage Foundation has previously found that 50 per cent of workers earning below the real living wage are given less than a week’s notice of their shifts. 21 per cent of workers have had their shifts cancelled unexpectedly, and 88 per cent are not compensated at their full rate of pay. One in three low-paid shift workers have increased reliance on credit and or debt because of short notice working hours or cancelled shifts, compared to 17 per cent who get paid at or above the real living wage.5 [….] The experience across the UKs poorest communities is that work does not pay enough to exist without state support which has had a wide-ranging impact on other aspects of life. [….] [B]oth the general public and most deprived see low wages as the most important cause of poverty in their area. [….] Real average weekly pay growth has remained stagnant since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis (GFC), a contributing factor to the lack of well-paying jobs in many parts of the country. [….] From 2008, there was a significant fall in real earnings with consistent growth only beginning again in July 2014. [….] For over 10 years the average British worker was actually poorer than before the GFC. In the most left behind communities, work is typically poor quality, insecure, and offers little progression. Just 15 per cent of those of the most deprived expect to progress at work over the next year. Wages at the bottom end of the spectrum remain low. Work is insecure. Despite these findings that much of the available work was of poor quality and barriers to work still remained, people want to work. Small charities working in post-industrial towns still report working with the third generation of unemployed, the shadow economy remains appealing, and average weekly pay growth is stagnant. The welfare system is topping up the wages of over two million people. Increasingly, people are turning to welfare, rather than wages, in order to unlock additional income: Britain is sick but being sick pays.

Intergenerational unemployment: There’re charities that work with the third, or even forth, generation of people who are economically inactive or unemployed. The existence of intergenerational worklessness has been contested, and explained by some as statistically insignificant, however the Commission heard from several charities across the country that it remained an issue in their communities.

Modern Slavery: The last 15 years have also seen a huge increase in the number and the proportion of National Referral Mechanism (NRM) referrals for children under age 18 as well as an increase in the number of British nationals referred. Now the most commonly reported forms of exploitation are labour and criminal exploitation whereas in 2009 the majority of victims identified were female victims of sexual exploitation, the number of NRM referrals are also highest among male children. […] [T]he most prevalent type of NRM referral from April to June 2023 was the criminal exploitation of children. [….] One in five of all NRM referrals was for a British child in 2022.

Housing: Whilst housing is a clear concern for Britain as a whole, the most deprived say they worry about cost, security and quality of housing more than the general public do. Communities are marked by poor quality, expensive and insecure housing. Seventy-three per cent of the most deprived worry about housing. Over one in five children in private rented homes are living in non-decent conditions. The most disadvantaged are twice as likely to worry about the quality of their housing than the general public, and both groups are similarly concerned about costs. The most deprived who live in social housing are three times less likely to rate their quality of life at least eight out of ten, compared with the general population who own a property. The lowest income deciles spend, as a percentage of their income, much more on housing costs than the wealthiest. In 2022, the bottom fifth spent over 25 per cent of their weekly household expenditure on housing costs, compared to the national average of 16.6 per cent and 12.6 per cent for the top fifth income quintiles […] Bad housing can increase the likelihood of problem debt issues. Financial resilience is undermined by unaffordable housing, increasing the chances of relying on loans and family members for support. CSJ analysis in 2023 has found that illegal money lending is a risk for millions of renters who are struggling to make ends meet. Analysis of Illegal Money Lending Team Data shows that the victims of illegal lending live overwhelmingly in social or PRS housing. The prevalence of illegal money lending victims living in the private rented sector has risen from 21 per cent in 2012 to 32 per cent in 2021.

Children’s learning: Children and young people are […] missing out on key social and coming of age opportunities. Two decades ago, just one in ten children were assessed as having a clinically recognisable mental health problem, a figure that is now one in five, rising to one in four for those between 17 and 19. 44 per cent of 16–17-year-olds report elevated psychological distress. [….] Amidst these alarming numbers there is concern that mental ill-health terminology may be too loosely applied and is being used as a catch-all term to describe complex social challenges. A 2023 survey for the Institute of Health Visiting (IHV) found that 84 per cent of health visitors reported an increase in children with speech, language, and communication delay, 76 per cent reported an increase in child behaviour problems, and 60 per cent reported an increase in child safeguarding issues. The IHV found that the socio-emotional skills of children living in households where parents experienced labour market instability during the COVID-19 were nearly 20 per cent lower than those whose families had stable labour market experiences.     

Amount to spend: A single person on benefits in Sutton Coldfield would have 34 per cent of their income to spend after non-avoidable costs, including housing. If the same person starts part-time work on the minimum wage, after costs including tax and housing, they have only 32 per cent of their income to spend. They may earn a bit more overall but because they effectively take home less per pound, the financial rewards of work can be marginal.

Credit: Credit forms a natural part of people’s day to day lives [….] BB found that personal debt was one of the most serious social problems facing the UK, uncovering that personal lending had reached the figure of £1.25 trillion, the equivalent debt per household of £50,000. The ratio of debt to income had risen from under 50 per cent in the 70s to over 140 per cent in 2006. In 2006, British consumers were on average twice as indebted as those in Continental Europe. The Commission’s polling found that for all demographics, debt ranked as the third most important perceived cause of poverty, behind low wages and lack of affordable housing. Total household debt as a proportion of household income peaked in 2008 at 156 per cent. It fell to 128 per cent by late 2015, reflecting increasing cautiousness by financial institutions. [….] During the COVID-19 pandemic, household debt began to rise again as a result of rising mortgage debt. [….] As the cost of borrowing has risen in recent years, less households have been able to afford credit that before was available for much lower repayment rates. [….] Despite income to household debt falling in recent years, the proportion of the population that are overindebted has risen by 2.1 million since 2017, to 18 per cent of UK adults in 2022. [….] It is also poorer households that are more likely to experience problem debt [….] The intergenerational nature of problem debt was also iterated to the Commission by Step2Recovery, a charity supporting ex-offenders. One person told the Commission: “My family [was] always in debt, so I got in debt. I didn’t know any other way.” Problem debt, according to the TN, (notes 230 and 231) is defined as having liquidity problems, solvency problems or both while liquidity problem is defined as “falling behind with bills or credit commitments and (in two or more consecutive months) arrears on bills or credit commitments or household debt repayment to net monthly income ratio >25 per cent”. Solvency problem, as the TN defines, is “feel debt is a heavy burden and debt to net annual income ratio >20 per cent” while over indebtedness is defined as adults who have failed to pay domestic bills, meet credit card commitments, or find keeping up with bills and credit commitments difficult.

Mental health: The most disadvantaged view mental ill-health as the biggest factor holding them back, which only ranks fifth for the general public. The number of people economically inactive because of long-term sickness has risen to over 2.6 million, an increase of nearly 500,000 since the COVID-19 pandemic. Over half of those signed off (53 per cent) reported depression, bad nerves, or anxiety.

Addictions: Communities are also being torn apart by addiction. There has been a 63 per cent increase in deaths of people on methadone than pre-COVID-19 pandemic. 11.5 per cent of adults who have used cannabis in the last year consume it every day. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, deaths from alcohol poisoning had been falling but rose 15.4 percent following the COVID-19 pandemic, and nearly 5,000 people died from drug poisoning last year. Use of [the] most harmful drugs is associated with poverty and material deprivation.

Crime: Across the country, amongst the general public and the most deprived communities, crime is overwhelmingly identified as the worst thing about living in an area. Both the most disadvantaged and the general public identify lack of boundaries and parental supervision as the key driver of youth crime. Although overall crime rates are down, violent crime remains high, and crime is highly concentrated – still six per cent of families account for half of all convictions. Outstanding cases for the Crown Courts continue to rise, eroding the public’s trust that justice will be done and emboldening criminals. Only eight per cent of victims are confident they would receive justice as a result of reporting a crime.

Charity: “Embedded within the fabric of local communities, the small voluntary groups, charities and social enterprises, called the Third Sector”.  The third sector continues to be hollowed out by the big players in the charity world despite a rise in demand for services following the COVID-19 pandemic. Charities with an income under £1 million a year make up 96 per cent of the voluntary sector in the UK, but […] 85 per cent of charitable income goes to just 4.4 per cent of charities. The smallest charities – those under £100k – have seen the greatest decline in their income from government, receiving nearly a third less than they did a decade ago. Yet small charities, facing more challenges after the COVID-19 pandemic than ever, are the ones who are often best placed to form the transformative relationships needed to turn lives around.

The report, about 300-page long, said:

Family: [D]eep frustration amongst the most disadvantaged communities that Westminster doesn’t understand its primacy. Fractured and frayed family relationships are key to many people’s struggles. The UK is an outlier among its counterparts for family fragility. 23 per cent of UK families are headed by a single parent, compared with an EU average of 13 per cent. Yet 68 per cent of the general public thinks that a stable and secure family life is the most important factor in determining a person’s success and wellbeing. For the first time more children are born to unmarried mothers than to married mothers, a relationship that is vastly more stable than cohabitation. Family breakdown hits the poorest families the hardest: a teenager growing up in the poorest 20 per cent of households is two-thirds more likely to experience family breakdown than a teenager in the top 20 per cent. Family life is hard. This is particulary true for parents who struggle with poor mental health or whose relationship are marked by conflict. Over the past eight years, over one in seven children have been classed as a Child in Need at least once.

Social media: […] [S]ocial media and phone use exacerbate challenges for those already struggling. The number of pupils with an education health and care plan (EHC) has increased by almost two-thirds since 2016, the most common need being autistic spectrum disorder, and over 1.5 million pupils in England have special educational needs (SEN). Just under two decades ago, 26 per cent of secondary and primary school pupils with SEN were eligible for Free School Meals (FSM), a key proxy for disadvantage. Today 41 per cent of pupils with an EHC plan are eligible for FSM. For many, trauma and sexual abuse are a terrible part of their most formative years. Children in the most disadvantaged families are suffering disrupted attachment and developmental delays. Only just over half (57 percent) of the most disadvantaged pupils leave primary school with the expected standards in reading, writing, and maths. 140,000 children are missing more school than they attend and a fifth of the whole school population misses an afternoon a week. Young people do not feel equipped for work or with skills for life, schools have to deal with social and family issues before they can even turn to teaching, and a decade of progress in closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged students and others was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The TN observed: The country cannot afford the price in human misery, or to the taxpayer, that poverty and disadvantage continue to cost. The most disadvantaged in society seem to have been forgotten and are left without the capability to negotiate their way out of poverty. The challenges already facing the most disadvantaged were not taken into account when demands were made to lock down during the COVID-19 pandemic. If the root causes of poverty aren’t tackled in a comprehensive manner, Britain, as a whole, will always be poorer.

The study: For conducting the study, “[t]he Commission made 27 visits to small charities, social enterprises and organizations, […] heard from an additional 31 charities, social enterprises, Local Authorities, a police force and policy experts through virtual meetings or roundtables, […] hosted five Big Listens events across the UK” that include London, Leeds, Manchester and Cardiff, which were attended by 262 charities, social enterprises and local organisations. [The participants in these Big Listens events were asked] “the biggest challenges they saw on the frontline of fighting poverty, and the best solutions they had identified. [….] The Commission hosted eight lived experience focus groups, including with those with lived experience of prison, addictions to illegal substances, long term unemployment and mental ill-health. The Commission also heard from other individuals who shared in depth their life stories […], written up as ten case studies. The Commission also received 31 responses to our Call for Evidence and travelled over 6200 miles across three nations of the UK. The Commission also conducted a national representative poll of 6,043 adults […] between 25 August and 2 October 2023. This poll had a boost of 3,021 of the most deprived people […] and used innovative polling techniques to ensure this boost sample included the views of those truly at the margins.” The TN is based on “a landmark poll of 6,000 people […] – 3,000 drawn from the general public and 3,000 on the lowest income.” The study “also heard from over 350 small charities, social enterprises and policy experts”; and traveled to “over 20 towns and cities”.

Therefore, it can’t be said that the methodology/approach followed in the study/inquiry is “faulty”/“not sound”/“weak”/“hollow”, as is found in some studies by the mainstream in a number of economies with bourgeois economic-political dominance. So, the findings of the TN can’t be brushed out.

The TN “has been produced by a high-powered team of Commissioners chaired by former Sunday Times editor Martin Ivens. The team includes Lord King, the former Governor of the Bank of England, Andy Burnham, the Labour Mayor of Manchester, Tim Farron, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Labour’s Sir Stephen Timms MP, Conservative MP Miriam Cates, and businesswoman Liz Earle.

No cause? No relation?

Such findings as cited above are not few in number. Rather, similar facts are presented regularly. However, most of these findings either fail to identify the cause of the facts and their relation to socioeconomic life or even the connection of the facts to the development of socialeconomic life.

The reality of exploitation and the resultant mass suffering in the UK, an imperialist economy with huge profit and accumulation, is so grave that Mr. Andy Cook, Chief Executive of the CSJ, said: “What this report [the CSJ report mentioned above] shows is that we need far more than discussions on finance redistribution, but a strategy to go after the root causes of poverty— education, work, debt, addiction and family.”6

Mr. Cook’s observation, despite his good intentions, is confusing. It’s correct to have “far more than discussion”; and that “far more” means practical steps, if reform and immediate results are the expectation. But, the problem that will come up is with an improper identification of the “root causes of poverty”. Root causes of poverty aren’t lack of education and work, debt, addiction, and broken family. People are not poor because they lack education; it is the opposite: they fail to access proper and useful education because they are poor. It is the same with “work”. It’s not that the poor and exploited don’t get engaged with work that can earn money for their livelihoods. Rather, the work they can get engaged with for earning money doesn’t fetch that amount of money required to have a life free of poverty, a decent life. Identifying debt as one of the root causes of poverty is foolish talk, as many rich persons bear huge amounts of debt although they aren’t poor. The “unfortunate” poor visit creditors when poverty crashes down upon them, when the poor cannot sustain their own and family members’ bodies and souls. A lot of the exploiting classes are addicted; but none of those gentlemen turn poor due to their addictions. Rather, the exploiting souls happily indulge in addictions, and continue with their addictions. Probably, a psychological test of members of the exploiting classes would find that at least a part of them are addicted to accumulation of capital, and they have no rational appropriate for human being for always keeping them vigorously and ferociously engaged with a brutal drive for profit and accumulation. This irrational brutal move may appear as a sort of addiction. The family question is completely different for the exploiting and the exploited classes. The poor strive to maintain and keep intact their families, but their efforts often fail miserably, as poverty tears their families into pieces, vaporizing family bonds. Some rich families fall apart too, but money always softens the blow.

Poverty must be identified with its proper source. Can exploitation be ignored as a primary source of poverty? Can the unequal distribution of income and wealth evade detection as source of poverty? Can private ownership of property dodge its role as a source of poverty? Can the appropriation of surplus value from the labor of the masses of workers and expropriation of the commons escape its role as a source of poverty? Is not the control of political power by a minority class of exploiters fudge an obvious source of poverty?

Unfortunately, but probably intentionally, the mainstream doesn’t look at these sources; and, in fact, it even denies that these are primary causes of mass misery and poverty. To the mainstream, these sources become the prerequisites for prosperity! The accumulation and regeneration of capital, capital fattening itself to bigger and bigger sizes, where prosperity is property of only a few exploiters is made to appear as the source of widespread prosperity. The mainstream, therefore, misleads and confuses the commoners, the exploited, the working people.

Less than necessary value

The reality is that, on the basis of cited facts, labor isn’t even paid the value necessary for an integral life. If work condition, wages, spending and indebtedness, as the TN tells, are taken into consideration, this conclusion, that even necessary value goes unpaid, is apparent. Labor’s state of affairs shows little but increased exploitation.

Labor’s current state of affairs is a part of class war waged by the exploiting capital against workers. Labor’s current inferior position in this struggle has become possible due to [1] a huge reserve army of labor, [2] the lower level of organization of the working class, [3] the absence of working people’s political work among the depressed/most disadvantaged, and [4] the lack of a radical working-class politics that aims to radically alter the relations of production. It’s a form of class war by the exploiting classes. However, this sort of class war is not noticed by a quarter.

Consumers’ credit circuit

The debt issue demands serious attention as the question of debt among the poor is interpreted by many, including the TN, in a bourgeois way of searching facts, which never exposes the core matter, namely exploitation. It’s claimed that “debt makes them poor”. The reality is the opposite. They are poor; that’s the reason they resort to debt. And for them, there are illegal credit arrangements. This – the poor’s resorting to debt – illuminates the extent of brutality and the intensity of exploitation, when not even necessary value is given to the worker. In other words, exploiters increase portion of surplus value, which is, ultimately, an increase in accumulation of capital. When a worker doesn’t get her/his necessary value, the fooled worker has to go to a “benevolent” lender to make ends meet.

If the “debt makes poor”-theory were correct, then all rich debtors, taking millions of dollars of credit from their friendly sources, would be super-poor. Amazingly, the opposite happens. The rich grab huge amounts, unimaginable to the information-deprived poor, of money from financial sources including banks, invest that amount for appropriation and expropriation of labor and nature, and fatten their profits and ultimately increase their accumulation. But, a huge part of the mainstream involved with the question of credit/debt completely goes silent on this aspect of development with the exploiters. They deny facts, and rely upon market-dictated propaganda.

The question of illegal credit arrangements is another aspect of brutality – the brutal modus operandi of credit markets. Illegal credit sources are inherently more brutal than legal credit sources. The reasons are: [1] they lack supervision, and they are not subject to ordinary legal requirements, [2] the illegal creditor has arbitrary power over the borrower, backed up by the threat of violence, and [3] poor debtor has no alternative to the illegal credit markets. These hit poor debtor hard. The poor person must, in reality, beg the creditor’s “mercy”. At that miserable moment, the “compassionate” creditor appears to be a “lord of love” to the poor would-be-debtor. Therefore, the issue of illegal credit shows [1] the actual condition of labor – wretched, [2] the power of capital – arbitrary, dictatorial, demonic, [3] the state of credit markets – cruel, treacherous, vagarious. Every aspect of a poor person’s life, from wages to working conditions, to competition with the reserve army of labor is precarious and perilous.

Capital’s power has built the precarious conditions of the workers, which allows capital to [1] bargain with labor on capital’s favorable terms, [2] keep labor subdued, disoriented, and demobilized term, [3] confuse labor and other intellectual and political forces searching for ways for emancipation of labor, [4] keep labor in a depoliticized condition. The credit market shows [1] condition of credit capital and idle capital, [2] rate of profits by [2.1] legal/formal credit capital, [2.2] illegal/informal credit capital, [3] other capitals including manufacturing and trading capitals.

All in all, the debtors the TN cites stand as evidence of the dispossessed’s condition – near-perishing condition, as debt is one of the very important and significant indicators of a number of conditions in the economy, society, life, political power.

The circuit of consumers’ credit moves in the following way:

Workers are paid a wage insufficient for them and their families to sustain a long-term normal life, which isn’t necessary value. This pushes workers borrow money from predatory lenders, and this takes a part of the workers’ necessary labor time, and forms, first, into credit capital, and then, a part of some other capital depending on the rate of profit, which again allows for the further appropriating of surplus labor, but it stays as credit capital if the rate of profit is higher than other capitals accessible to it.        

The Same Scene

 The UK socioeconomic scene mentioned above is also found in other countries having exploitative relations. The details in terms of human suffering may and will differ, as there are differences in the economies, the level of theft, plunder and exploitation, the ways in which capital is accumulated, the level/absence of resistance by the working people, etc. However, the pattern is the same – suffering, inequality, and deprivation. The special character here, in the UK, lies in the UK’s economy, the structure of rule, the maturity of the ruling classes, and its history. In general, the UK’s ruling class is far more resourceful, powerful, skilled, matured, and institutionalized than is true in the overwhelming majority of the capitalist countries. So, this helps understand other economies with exploitative system.

Another aspect that very often goes unmentioned is the condition of exploited classes, especially the working classes’ economic and political movement in the imperialist economy. Many economies lack the long-running rule of a sophisticated ruling class common in the most powerful capitalist economies. With this wide experience, the dominating classes are carrying on its class war against the exploited. The exploited classes, needless to say, bear the brunt of class war. Inequality, deprivation, etc. are part of the class war the exploiting classes wage against the exploited. Moreover, the exploiting classes are either failing to provide “a thin cushion” or they grant a small amount, a kind of bribe, to all the poor/low earning people. This – “failing to provide” or “aren’t providing” – is to be examined, as both of these carry significance in terms of a particular state of the exploiting classes or its capacity or incapacity; and these are, essentially, related to the intensity of exploitation, profit, accumulation/regeneration of capital, power to suppress/vigorousness of suppression. It should be mentioned that suppression is not always confined to the physical. It can, and usually does, move overwhelmingly in the areas of politics/political, concept/idea, thought process, propaganda, and crippling of organization, neutralizing or disarming or de-radicalizing of the workers’ program/leadership. At the same time, this situation also says “something” or a lot of things about the exploited classes – their capacity to survive, the state of politics, political and organizational power, the state of struggle, bargaining capacity, and the reserve army of labor. The more weak, unorganized, de-politicized are the exploited classes, the more barbarous pressure the exploiting classes put on the exploited.

These are simple facts, known to all, but ignored by the mainstream. At times, even, a part of the political forces that claims to be with the exploited goes silent on these issues, doesn’t investigate the working people’s condition, and doesn’t look at the facts, even though they are an integral part of the agenda of activism of the exploited. But, these need to be told in plain, simple way, repeatedly; and these are to be told to the exploited.

The UK-facts are related to individual consumption. Marx tells us that “[t]he individual consumption of the labourer […] forms therefore a factor of the production and reproduction of capital [….] The maintenance and reproduction of the working class is, and must ever be, a necessary condition to the reproduction of capital. [….] All the capitalist cares for, is to reduce the labourer’s individual consumption as far as possible to what is strictly necessary [….]”7 Isn’t this exactly what capital in the UK is doing, trying to reduce the labourer’s individual consumption as far as possible to what is strictly necessary?       

So, the facts from the UK don’t only relate to poor people’s hardships. These also speak about the capitals involved – the way these capitals deal with labor. This issue, the poor people’s sufferings, is also applicable in other economies; and the issue should be examined from this angle – capital’s way of exploitation.   

And, the facts cited above recall Engels:

“When one individual inflicts bodily injury upon another such injury that death results, we call the deed manslaughter; when the assailant knew in advance that the injury would be fatal, we call his deed murder. But when society8 places hundreds of proletarians in such a position that they inevitably meet a too early and an unnatural death, one which is quite as much a death by violence as that by the sword or bullet, when it deprives thousands of the necessaries of life, places them under conditions in which they cannot live – forces them, through the strong arm of the law, to remain in such conditions until that death ensues which is the inevitable consequence – knows that these thousands of victims must perish, and yet permits these conditions to remain, its deeds is murder just as surely as the deed of the single individual; disguised, malicious murder, murder against which none can defend himself, which does not seem what it is, because no man sees the murderer, because the death of the victim seems a natural one, since the offence is more one of omission than of commission. But murder it remains.”9 Then, Engels told10 about the social murder that the society in England was committing daily and hourly – “placing the workers under conditions in which they can neither retain health nor live long; that it undermines the vital force of these workers gradually, little by little, and so hurries them to the grave before their time.” He said further: “society knows how injurious such conditions are to the health and the life of the workers, and yet does nothing to improve these conditions. That it knows the consequences of its deeds; that its act is, therefore, not mere manslaughter, but murder, […]”11      

This social murder goes on unabated not only in a single advanced bourgeois country, but in all lands where the working people are in chains of exploitation. But, this murder at such scale goes unspoken by the mainstream. The mainstreams’ philosophies, theories, and books of jurisprudence spell silence on this mass murder spread over generations. The logic that shapes such silence on the issue of social murder is nothing but class interest. The question that haunts all rationale and humane head is: Should silence on social murder reign? No, this shouldn’t be – this is the answer to the question.

[Thanks to Professor Michael D. Yates, Editorial Director of Monthly Review Press, for examining and editing part of the article (from the paragraph with subheading “No cause? No relation?” to the end of the article.]


1., December 2023, Kings Buildings, 16 Smith Square, Westminster, SW1P 3HQ, London, UK

2. Here, and in all the following cited parts, emphasis has been added; and all references to the report are either direct or indirect quotes from the report. The cited parts from the report haven’t always been put within quotation marks [“”].

3. The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Breakdown Britain: Interim Report on The State of the Nation, December 2006. It was followed by the CSJ’s another similar work Breakthrough Britain: Ending the Costs of Social Breakdown, July 2007.

4. These “benefits”, according to the TN, include fallen unemployment, improved literacy rates amongst young people, fallen overall crime rates by some measures, and declined absolute poverty that is measured in purely monetary terms.

5. Living Wage Foundation, “Almost One-Third of Working Adults Given Less Than a Week’s Notice of Working Hours”, March 2022

6. “Britain slipping back to social divide of Victorian era”, press release from the CSJ, December 10, 2023,

7. Marx, Capital, vol. I, Progress Publishers, Moscow, erstwhile USSR, 1977

8. With “society”, Engels speaks “of society as a responsible whole, having rights and duties, […] the ruling power of society, the class which at present holds social and political control, and bears, therefore, the responsibility or the condition of those to whom it grants no share in such control. This ruling class in England, as in all other civilized countries, is the bourgeoisie. But that this society, and especially the bourgeoisie, is charged with duty of protecting every member of society, at least, in his life, to see to it, for example, that no one starves.”

9. The Condition of the Working Class in England, Karl Marx Frederick Engels Collected Works, vol. IV, Progress Publishers, Moscow, erstwhile USSR, 1975

10. Engels, in his investigation, proved this.

11. Engels, op. cit.

Farooque Chowdhury writes from Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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