Global market collapse is opportunity’ for Left, says SWP professor

PUBLISHED: 20:14 25 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:39 05 October 2010

THE current crisis in global financial markets presents a “moment of opportunity” to rebuild the Left in politics, one of Britain’s foremost socialist thinkers told a public meeting in London’s East End last night (Wednesday). The Left needed to organise society on a different logic to end the blind process of competition, said Prof Alex Callinicos

Ted Jeory

THE current crisis in global financial markets presents a crucial “moment of opportunity” to rebuild the Left in politics, one of Britain’s foremost socialist thinkers told a public meeting in London’s East End.

The world was “confronting a major historical turning point” in the march of capitalism, particularly the system of neo-Liberalism that has dominated the last few decades, Prof Alex Callinicos told the meeting in Bethnal Green’s Oxford House centre last night (Wednesday).

Prof Callinicos, a prolific author on Marxism and member of the Socialist Workers Party’s central committee, told the audience of 50 that unless the Left began to organise better, workers would once again be exploited as businesses strove to cut the real value of wages to maintain profits.

He was giving his talk as American politicians debated the merits of an $800 billion rescue package for US markets.

“I’m not arguing that capitalism is going to fall apart though,” he said.

“To get rid of capitalism, we need the mass of working people to be determined to get rid of it.

“As long as that doesn’t take place, the system will revive.

“Already, they are resorting to massive action on the part of the State. But instead of putting the money in the pockets of working people, they are rescuing the financial institutions of greed that caused the crisis in the first place.

“Their solution is to make us pay for it! And in order for banks and other companies to push up profits, they’ll need to push down real wages.”

Prof Callinicos, professor of European Studies at King’s College, London, and the great-grandson of famous historian Lord Acton, asked: “So what do we do?”

He continued: “First of all, we need to say, no—we’re not going to pay for your crisis’.

“We need to break through the kind of pay limits that Gordon Brown is trying to impose on the public sector.

“Then we need to organise the world and society on a different logic and end the blind process of competition. We need planning so that we can work out where we need to go.

“But we need that planning to be democratic—we need socialism.”

He was asked by an East London Advertiser reporter after the meeting that if capitalism was able ride out the collapse of two major investment banks, whether the system was adaptable and robust enough to survive most turbulence.

“Capitalism is adaptable,” he replied. “But it is surviving because the Left is weak. The Left needs to organise and grow support.”

The crisis-provoked shift in wealth from Western economies to countries like China could be a “good thing”, he argues.

But more than that—the US is much more of an imperialist power.

“If America is weakened, that’s also good for the world.”

Prof Callinicos was a significant figure in the row that led up to the split between the SWP and MP George Galloway’s Respect Party last year.

Latest East London News Stories


A traditional rural theatre of ancient Bengal that uses hunting for story-telling through folk opera and dance in a theatrical setting comes to Bethnal Green tomorrow.

Wondering what the weather has in store for us this weekend? Watch our Met Office video forecast.


Former arm-wrestling champ and Whitechapel stallholder Les Clayden is going back to his cockney ‘daisy roots’ to talk about ‘Swimming with Stingrays’.

Since the government’s austerity programme started in 2010, the council’s core funding from government has been cut in real terms by 64 per cent, which equates to £148m.

Yesterday, 18:21

Police have found the body of a missing student with links to east London.

Yesterday, 16:14

The mayor of Tower Hamlets has voluntarily had a blood test for Aids in a council campaign for public awareness for people to take part in HIV Testing Week starting tomorrow.

Yesterday, 13:48

Campaigners have called for support ahead of a national unity demonstration against racism and fascism.

Yesterday, 11:45

Police are appealing for help in finding a vulnerable man who has been missing for more than a week.


Are you a landlord looking for a fixed rental income, paid whether the property is empty or not? Steve Westley, general manager at estate agents Elliot Leigh, explains their Guaranteed Rent Scheme and how it takes the stress out of letting your property.

Newsletter Sign Up

East London Advertiser twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Docklands and East London Advertiser
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now