-- The Politician-Free Zone
Information about Rachel Corrie, an American killed by the Israeli army in 2003.
As well as being politically spot on, this website also has awesome psychic powers.
Carlo Giuliani was a 23 year old anarchist, killed by Italian police at a protest in 2001.
Useful or fun stuff on other sites.
A small collection of political tattoos.
An anarchist tribute to Tintin.
The Politician-Free Zone is the place to start if you're interested in reading about anarchist ideas. It has articles which between them answer most of the questions that people have, as well as a lot of cartoons and graphics.
The latest Australian and international news, facts and quotes.
An introduction to the site and information on the latest things that've been added to it.
Free board game based on the 1999 anti-World Trade Organization demonstrations.
A small collection of fonts for Word and other programs, including take-offs of McDonalds and other corporate logos.
How long would it take the head of a big company to earn your pay? Trick question - they don't earn their pay.
PLEASE NOTE: As of November 2014, this site is no longer updated. However it will be left up indefinitely as an archive.
Back to the main list.
What's Wrong With The Economy?
The list of jobs that need to be done is endless. Houses need to be built. Roads need to be repaired. Hospitals and schools need to be adequately staffed. The environment needs repairing. At the same time thousands of people are unemployed. Why can't these jobs be given to those who want them?
Is it because we have the wrong government and all we need is a more 'caring' one? Or is there a deeper reason?
We think that unemployment and recession will always happen as long as we have a 'free market', or capitalist, economy.
First, a brief economics lesson. Picture any business. It doesn't matter whether there are ten, a hundred or a hundred thousand. It doesn't matter whether the boss is the local shopkeeper or Bill Gates.
What we will look at in this business is the way the finances are arranged. In particular, who controls them. The employees, the workers, don't own anything to do with the business. They do the majority of the work and get paid by the owner/boss. The owner also pays a fairly fixed sum for maintenance of machinery, electricity and gas bills, rents, taxes, and so on.
The bosses own everything and do at most a small fraction of the work. They end up with whatever's left over after their expenses. This means that they get more for themselves if they pay out less in other expenses. The main expense that the owners can lessen is the wages and working conditions of the workers. So the bosses will put a lot of effort into trying to spend as little as they can on these. In other words they'll try to pay low wages and spend less on conditions. For example, they'll spend as little as possible on making the workplace safe.
The 'class war'
This is the 'class war'. The capitalist system creates two main classes: the 'ruling class' of owners/bosses and the 'working class' of employees. In fact this 'working class' really includes a lot of people who'd think of themselves as 'middle class'. Any victory for employees means a loss for owners. Any victory for owners means a loss for employees.
The ruling class is a tiny minority and so must defend its property from the majority. This involves using a wide spectrum of tools, from the propaganda of the education system and Church to the courts, police and army. The working class will be constantly forced to fight to defend its conditions. As long as the economic system of capitalism exists, as long as a few people own and control everything, these two classes will be pitted against each other. There will be a never-ending state of conflict.
But how does this lead to unemployment? Why not employ everyone, including developing the Third World. Surely this would mean more workers, more profits and so more money for the ruling class.
The reason is competition.
Different companies have to compete with each other to sell more, in order to make higher profits and increase the money in the bosses' pockets. To protect their present sales and hopefully increase them, the ruling class must invest in more research and development, more modern machinery, advertising and marketing. This costs money.
The bosses are faced with the problem of trying to recover this money. They can produce more of the product in the hope of selling more and they can try to lower workers wages.
Recessions start when more goods are produced than people can afford to buy. Sales and therefore profits drop as shops start filling up with unsold goods. Then the ruling class resorts to the second method of keeping their profits up. They start imposing wage freezes and wage cuts.
This causes a downward spiral. As people have their wages cut they buy less; prices are put up and wages put down. So people have even less money to buy things, which means more companies can't sell their products, which means they have to save money by cutting wages...
Then the owners start sacking people and closing down parts of their business.
A point about the recession is that profits have not vanished, they have just gone down. They are low enough that large parts of the ruling class choose to invest in government funds, stocks and speculation rather than direct investment in business. The millionaires are still millionaires, no matter how bad a recession gets.
Meanwhile the majority of people suffer - the people who don't own businesses but who have to try and get a job working for someone else - the working class in other words. Unemployment soars, wages are slashed. Working class confidence dives. Women are most affected by cuts in public services: housing, hospitals, schools and transport.
And then things get better for a while.
The recession ends as it began - when the economic conditions are right for the ruling class. That is, when they can make high enough profits by investing in production instead of speculating on the stock market.
In the absence of a large fighting movement, workers will be forced to work for less and accept worse conditions. The unemployed are used by the bosses to threaten the security of workers' jobs. For the same reason strikes and militant action will be at a minimum. And with less money being spent on wages, health, education and housing the owners will take a larger chunk of the profits for themselves.
As the economy pulls out of a recession only one thing is sure - it is going to collapse again. Not that a "boom" is any way brilliant. It just means that a large amount of bosses are making an extraordinarily large amount of money. Any increase in living standards won by the working class is only a fraction of that which is gained by the ruling class.
In the 1980s the world economy was at an all-time high. But this mainly meant that the profits of the heads of big companies were at an all time high. There were still millions of people living in poverty and unemployment, or in many countries not even living, but starving to death or dying from diseases which could easily have been cured, if they had the money.
The ruling class will never invest in lower than average profit making businesses simply because they don't need to. And it is in their interests to keep people unemployed and hungry. The only sizable gains that are made for the workers are when they fight for them and win them against the ruling classes' wishes.
This mainly means by going on strike. The bosses' big weakness is that they need their employees to work for them and make profit. They can't run their businesses themselves. Employees can force the bosses to give whatever pay rises they want or whatever conditions, as long as they stick to saying that they won't work otherwise.
One solution - revolution
This economic system we have now, capitalism, offers most people a continuous struggle against the ruling class for the necessities of life. We can never be as rich as the ruling class, because we can never own what they own.
The only way to achieve long term riches for everyone is by a complete elimination of the class system. It will have to be replaced with ownership of the 'means of production' by the working class.
This means no one would privately own anything like a factory or a business. They'd be controlled by everyone, and run for the benefit of everyone in society.
And that means everybody having a fair say in how things are run. Putting a new group of people into power, even if they said they'd make things fair, or even if they truly wanted to make things fair, wouldn't do any more than replace one set of bosses with another.
Back to the main list.