Updated: 21 May 2008, 23:35
Originally written: 19 December 2007
The government of Canada, represented by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has just announced that it will, in early 2008, introduce legislation to permit the government more power to recall dangerous goods and impose stiffer fines upon manufacturers and importers responsible for those dangerous products.
This is a response to the recent spate of recalls of toys and other products which do not meet current safety standards.
The reins of government are currently held by elected MPs of the Conservative Party. The Conservative Party has previously indicated that it has a strong belief that market forces, left to function without government intervention, will serve society better than big government trying to tell capital how it should operate.
That perspective, strongly defended by those of similar beliefs, is clearly inconsistent with the government’s intention to force manufacturers to recall products, and to punish those manufacturers. Why the disconnect?
The problem, which will not affect the free market perspective of the Conservatives, or any other political party of capitalism, including the Liberals, NDP, Green, Communist, Bloc, is that their perspective is clearly wrong, and has long been clearly proven wrong.
But being proven wrong is not a problem, apparently, for these political parties. They do not change their philosophy to suit the facts. Instead, they tailor their propaganda to trick the voter. And, election after election, voters are tricked into voting for capitalism.
It is extremely unlikely that the political parties of capitalism will ever admit that their perspective is wrong. Utterly, repeatedly, proven wrong.
Governments have discovered that they must institute punishment and force manufacturers and importers to follow the rules and regulations designed to provide a minimum level of safety. Again and again, it has been found that even with punishment, the rules are not followed. But when the punishment fails, government increases the punishment — or at least says it will increase the punishment.
The role of capitalists, under capitalism, is to reap profit. The apologists for capitalism tell us that this is a good thing — that profit is not a dirty word. They tell us over, and over again, so many believe that it must be true. And for capitalists, it is true.
Capitalism, by its very nature, pushes capitalists to increase their rate of profit. That is the market in action. It is not good or bad, it is simply how capitalism works.
But, history keeps proving to us that capitalism in fact pushes capitalists to endanger their employees and their customers if doing so appears to improve profitability.
Capitalists and their apologists will bleat that it is only the “bad” capitalists who are responsible for endangering us. We are supposed to believe that the “bad” capitalists are rogues, and not representative of the capitalist class as a whole.
But it does not matter.
The fact is that capitalism does, naturally, produce dangerous products and dangerous workplaces.
The market does not prevent that. The market fosters it. Capitalism is not a victim. It is the cause of the problem. It has been causing these problems for several hundred years. For several hundred years, the apologists for capitalism have been trying to fix it. They have failed, because capitalism is not broken. These are not “growing pains” which a little tinkering can fix. They are the result of a mature economic structure which has been tinkered with by every government in the world for as long as those governments have governed under capitalism.
For over one hundred years the left wing, the right wing, and the centrists have been tinkering with capitalism. Capitalism is still dangerous. The parties of capitalism want you to let them keep tinkering forever. Capitalism will continue to cause the problems until people such as you end capitalism forever.
The tinkering may or may not be directly harmful. But maintaining capitalism is undeniably dangerous and harmful.
Corporations do not produce dangerous products in dangerous workplaces because the capitalists who own the corporations want to hurt people. Some left wingers may want you to believe that capitalists are evil, and that their motivation is to hurt people. Although there may be such capitalists, they are rare. Capitalists want to increase their profit. That is part of the nature of capitalism, and as long as people support capitalism, capitalists trying to increase their profit are doing what people want them to do.
The problem is that under capitalism, the unalterable tendency is for capitalism itself to continually, with varying levels of force, pressure capitalists to profit, and to increase profits. And trying to explain that away, to try to apologize for the dangerous products and dangerous workplaces, is to choose to endanger oneself.
All the punishments in the world cannot prevent capitalism from pushing capitalists to increase profits by breaking rules designed to protect us. The problem is not the level of profit, or “bad” capitalists. The problem is profit.
So, the choice we face is to struggle to maintain a system from which we will always have to protect ourselves, or to build a society which does not pressure manufacturers into endangering us. Capitalism’s Gravediggers has chosen the latter. Socialists cannot force socialism upon the majority. A socialist majority will build socialism to produce goods and services to satisfy human needs — including safe products and safe workplaces.