Taxing capitalists is not enough, we need to expropriate them

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
May 3, 2021

Since the US President, Joe Biden, announced that he wants to tax the richest people and the big capitalist multinationals, the governmental left wing in France is ecstatic. The French Communist Party (PCF) leader, Roussel, even exclaimed – “It’s amazing… I feel as if he’s now a card-carrying member of the PCF… The plan he’s implementing is a revolutionary one”!

It might be funny, if it were not so sad: the left-wing parties themselves were incapable of raising taxes on the richest people when they were in power and now they’re full of admiration for Biden, the leader of the greatest imperialist power in the world!

Biden is no more a friend of workers than Macron, Xi Jinping and Putin. He is looking to boost his country’s economy and the business of the American bourgeoisie. And Wall Street, who welcomed his coming to power and has returned to its pre-Covid level, is thrilled!

What Biden has announced is pretty meaningless. Mostly, it’s a question of cancelling the tax cuts set up by Trump and it will only come into effect if approved by the Senate. As for the international taxation of multinationals that he is touting, it is purely hypothetical.

The enthusiasm of left-wing parties hasn’t turned Biden into a socialist! It just shows how low the Socialist party, the PCF and even Unsubmissive France1 have sunk.

The so-called “socialism” of the left-wing parties can now be summed up with a slogan: “taxing the rich to share out wealth better”. Making some sort of contribution is the least that the rich, the bourgeoisie and the major shareholders should do!

For 2020, Arnault will receive 1.5 billion euros in dividends from his shares in LVMH, that is four million for every day of the year. Thanks to her L‘Oréal share package, Meyers-Bettencourt will receive more than two million per day. Meanwhile the government is cutting the amount of unemployment benefits that more than one million jobless people receive. It is skimping on caregivers’ wages, training and hiring. It is threatening another pension reform. There is no reason why we should accept this. We must take money from the bourgeoisie’s profits in order to meet the workers’ needs!

It is not a question of “tax equality” because there can be no equality in a society that is based on exploitation. It is a question of class struggle, of the balance of power, of collective struggles. It is a question of defending our vital interests and, to do that, we cannot count on one providential man but on our own strength.

Taxing capitalists will not take away their ability to cause harm. It will not take away their power to exploit workers, squeeze wages, impose increasingly difficult working conditions on some and cut the jobs of others. It will not take away their right to rule over society thanks to their capital and their private property.

A current problem is the patents for the anti-Covid vaccines: they are holding up mass production. Every week’s delay in vaccinating means more than 1,200 additional deaths here in France. In India, considered along with China to be “the world’s medicine cabinet”, the vaccine and oxygen shortages officially cause more than 4,000 deaths per day and probably many more than that!

It's criminal behavior when the shareholders of pharmaceutical trusts insist on keeping their property private. The problem will not be solved by raising their taxes but by expropriating them, by organizing vaccine production outside the law of profit, outside competition and the laws of the market.

If the health crisis has turned into a catastrophe, it is largely because the only thing that motivates the capitalist class is its profits. For the same reason, that class is at the root of mass unemployment, inequality, the ecological crisis and wars. The capitalist class drags us into an endless economic crisis and keeps the threat of a new financial crisis hanging over us. As long as capitalists are in charge, they will stop the workers and the whole of society from progressing.

It would be better to take the reins of society away from the bourgeoisie, expropriate them rather than just make them pay. The first generations of militants who proclaimed their socialism and their communism had this objective. It should remain the objective of all those whose goal is the emancipation of the exploited. The working class is already doing what is hardest: keeping society going despite the crisis. If it can do that, it can run society!

1Unsubmissive France (in French: La France Insoumise, or LFI) is a party founded in 2016 by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, an ex-Socialist Party senator and minister.