Sixth Ingrowing Toenail

Social Awareness

This is Capitalism's finest hour. The market economy reigns supreme and the few non-capitalist pockets cannot endanger it. Soviet type socialism, having been finally discredited, isn't offering an alternative to anybody but the most starry-eyed idealist.

What might be the consequences of this on the whole welcome demise of a not very attractively implemented ideology? The first to react to the worsening of conditions in Eastern Europe and the accompanying weakening of the communist influence on Western workers were what used to be called the Capitalists.

  Supported by conservative governments they began putting the squeeze on their workforce. And, in Great Britain for instance, they succeded in severely reducing the influence organized labour exerted on the economical and political systems. The refusal of the unions to accept adaptation to changing conditions brought about by new technologies weakened them in the eyes of the public and reduced the support they had enjoyed.

This trend may be expected to continue. By dumping unwanted workers into the lap of a society aware of the costs of upkeeping millions of people, the problem is acerbated. What we will probably see is an increase in the number of people living at and beyond the edges of society, disenfranchised and hopeless. Labour unions will abandon their role as speakers for the less well off parts of society and concentrate solely on the improvement of conditions for their own members. A quarter of the population in industrialized countries will live in social limbo.

Capitalists, just as workers, are better organized and informed today, than they were in the 19th century. They will therefore probably not repeat all the mistakes made by their predecessors. They will look after their own workforce reasonably well. After all, while they may be expensive to keep, they will also consume what they produce and support the existing system. They will try and limit the cost to society of the unemployed, but they will be careful not to push them too far, as an explosion of people who have nothing to lose will be too dangerous and too expensive.