[OPE-L:1628] Britain's decline

Alan Freeman (100042.617@compuserve.com)
Thu, 28 Mar 1996 18:57:44 -0800

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Paul (1622 of 28/3, referring to my 1580 of 27/3) writes

"In that case [if Alan is right] British capitalism has been in crisis
the last decade and a half"

I rest my case!

The latest Socialist Economic Bulletin provides the following

1)gross fixed investment by British capital is now at its lowest as
a proportion of GDP since 1953 (14.5%). This compares to 16.2%
in Italy, 18.4 0n France, 22.6 0n Germany, 28.2 0n Japan.

2) dividends have now reached the all-time high of 32 billion

Total (profit) income of companies and financial institutions by 1994
rose to 310f GDP of which a record 210f GDP went on
non-invested income.

"just because [the capitalists] chose to spend [their profits]
on luxuries they are not capitalists? What class are they then?"

Rentiers: a parasitic class which lives of the family silver and other
people's profits. They are to capitalism what Louis XIV was
to the aristocracy.

The annualised average level of increase in output by the UK by the
third quarter of 1995 was 1.10er year. The FT and Economist can
only claim a performance increase because they compare current
output with the worst performances of the recession; by for example
the first quarter of 1992 GDP had *already* fallen by 3.6%
compared with the previous peak. Britain, at the highest
point in the boom and with the new recession just beginning, has
a GDP only 5% above its 1990 level.

Once a decline of this nature sets in, because accumulated assets
are quite substantial, it takes a considerable period for the decline
to exhaust the potential of the country concerned. Britain, a victor
power of World War II, is still able to trade on the privileges of
its world status - that is, rob other capitalists of their profits.
Thatcher was also able to apply the classic capitalist palliative of
squeezing wages, which are now among the lowest in Europe. But
this is not an indefinitely sustainable remedy because Britain has
to compete not just with its own workers but with the substantially
less dissolute capitals of Japan, Germany and South East Asia -
not to mention the equally dissolute but militarily more capable
US of A.

Since 1945 Britain has lost its shipbuilding industry, its motorcycle
industry, its steel industry, its coal industry, most of its car industry,
its aerospace industry and its computer industry. Its manufacturing
labour force has shrunk to a quarter of the economically active population.
Britain was the first to get bounced out of the ERM, it is the laughing
stock of Europe, its trade deficit is endemic and chronic and it is bouncing
along the bottom of the capitalist league tables in every category
except finance, scandal and the production of new diseases.

The reason the British capitalists laugh on the way to the bank
is that they have nowhere else to go.