I am a primary school teacher from London and I used to believe in reformism. I wished for someone like Corbyn to come along with new ideas and shake everything up. Sure enough, he has now come along and promises housing, free education and childcare. However, now he is faced with two problems in delivering on his promises. First, the finance secretary will say they can’t afford it. Secondly, the few reforms he will be able to stick to – say even a slight increase in the minimum wage – will not significantly change the quality of life for the working class and certainly won’t save our education or healthcare.
I used to think that it was possible to put a sticking plaster over the wounds of economic, political and social crisis that have opened up in our society. What was I thinking? We see this all the time in society: politicians trying to fix major problems with a sticking plaster. And even those mild sticking-plaster reforms, we are told, are near-impossible to afford. Yet we all know that the money is there to solve the problems and that the ruling class and their political representatives are the ones who caused these problems in the first place through their capitalist system and brutal policies such as austerity. I was trying to understand these contradictions I could see in society.
At first, I didn’t realise a socialist society was a real alternative, so I was a floating left winger, with no direction. I thought we needed bigger plasters, so I got more active in marches and striking at the school where I was teaching. We were losing a teaching assistant every year. They weren’t sacked; just not replaced. The reason we had teaching assistants to begin with was to cope with the vast array of needs of the children being sent to mainstream schools after funding for special schools was cut. Now they’re cutting our funding further.
I have bi-polar disorder and recently saw an NHS advertisement for mental health support on the tube. ‘Real men don’t cry! Real men ask for help!’ – A new texting service, after previous Tory governments have stripped mental health services to bare bones. It’s a little bit like someone stealing £500 from you and then, because you are financially crippled, the same person offers you £50 to tide you over.
Eventually, I realised that these problems can’t be solved by patching up capitalism. When a Corbyn-led Labour government comes to power it won’t be able to fulfill the promises made unless it breaks with capitalism. A Labour government that adheres to capitalism will ultimately be blocked by the ruling class from keeping promises such as nationalisation or higher taxes for the rich.
You can tell a lot about a social and economic system by how it treats the most vulnerable members of society. Capitalism is failing every single one of these groups – all except the rich are suffering. This isn’t capitalism gone wrong – this is the best that capitalism has to offer. Not in my name! This is why I fight, because we can’t patch it up, we have to overthrow it. 16 September 2018 – The date I joined the revolution. I only wish I knew about it sooner.