The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Capitalism Rewards Shareholders and Condemns Itself

Jan 6, 2020

Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.

In 2017, big international corporations paid their shareholders dividends 8% higher than the year before. In 2018, 10% higher. This year, dividends only swelled by 4%, but they still reached the total of more than 1.4 trillion dollars! One third of this is paid to U.S. shareholders alone.

Stock exchange indexes in the imperialist countries also reached record highs this year.

But this explosion of the profits of the few is not explained by any noteworthy increase in the production of material goods, not by any real new wealth, and not by any sensational discoveries useful for the progress of humanity. On the contrary, material production is stagnant. The mass of workers—the only producers of wealth—is impoverished. Whole parts of the world are going backward at full speed. Whole populations are plunging into misery. The economic war between the big powers spreads fear that local wars will grow and widen in scope. The capitalists are aware of the problems and risks their system creates. They have illusions that the world will return to a period of peaceful economic growth.

On the contrary, since the 2008 world financial crisis, governments and central banks have lent ever-bigger amounts of capital. As a result, debt has inflated monstrously. Banks and speculators operate with unprecedented power. The biggest buy up the smallest. Fortunes and businesses concentrate. Big companies even borrow from banks to buy back their own shares to increase the profitability of each share remaining in circulation.

Profits for a few big capitalist families feed the destruction of the living conditions of most of humanity.