The G8 (Group of Eight) is comprised of the leaders of eight of the richest nations in the world: USA, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and, from 1998, Russia.
It was set up in 1975 to discuss a solution for the "economic problems of the day". Since its inception, the G8 has failed to provide any viable solution and the problems facing the world now have deepened further. 2.8 billion people in the world today are forced to exist on less than $2 a day, whilst transnational corporations become more and more powerful.
However, the G8 has also been the focal point of the fight against global capitalism. More recently, large-scale protests and direct action have accompanied this event, with coalitions and networks formed between various participating grassroots organisations. 2005 will see the UK government assume presidency of the G8, which will meet in Gleneagles in July to discuss a solution to the problems facing the African continent, and climate change.
Any attempt by the G8 to solve the problems facing the African continent will fail. Historically, the African continent has been devastated by the actions of the capitalist class in many of the G8’s countries. Their imperialist and colonialist policies have caused extreme poverty for the majority of Africans, and the representatives of capitalism today are just as unlikely to secure a solution.
In fact, the ideological basis of imperialism continues to be little more than thinly-veiled racism.
The official G8 website created by the UK government argues that the reason that the African continent is afflicted by such poverty and war is because of "poor government". This denies the urgent manner by which transnational corporations continue to exploit natural resources and sustain corrupt governments in the region.
There are signs, however, that with collective struggle, ordinary people can make a difference. Look, for example, at the success of the general strikes in which Nigerian CWI members had a key role.
Only with collective organisation and struggle on a Marxist basis can ordinary Africans fight the poverty, war, and exploitation by transnational capitalism and its representatives in the G8.
Climate change provides a further example of the capitalist system’s inability to solve the world’s problems.
The blind pursuit of profit causes companies today to employ scientists to offer scepticism to the debate on climate change. Governments might attempt some regulation of capitalism to prevent total environmental destruction but, in a capitalist society, pursuit of profit will inevitably be placed above the health of our environment.
The UK government’s apparent obsession with airport and motorway expansion shows that, whilst paying lip service to the problem, environmental destruction will pose an ever-growing threat to our world as long as capitalism exists.
That is not to say that the experience of the Soviet Union offers us a blueprint to a clean environment. In fact, it was natural for "socialism in one country" to resign all thoughts of environmental sustainability in a society forced to act in competition with the capitalist world.
The experience of the USSR warns us that, only with democratic power in the hands of the working class, can a rational plan be developed so that humans can live in a safe environment.
The G8 event has been the arena for mass demonstrations against the capitalist system and its hypocritical leaders, and Gleneagles will be no exception. At Glasgow University, coalitions have been formed between students in various societies to co-ordinate resistance.
Ordinary people from all over the world, too, will travel to Scotland this summer to show the ruling elite that another world is possible.
However, the full participation of the working class, supported by the radical middle class, and the involvement of trade unions will be essential for the establishment of a socialist world.
Whilst it is important to stress demands, such as the abolition of Third World debt, only the fight for a socialist world based on the democratic organisation and control of production and society will bring an end to the chaos which engulfs the planet today.
Ten reasons why capitlaism has to go
- One billion people live on less than $1 a day.
- 2.7 billion survive on less than $2 a day.
- 6m million children a year die from malnutrition before their fifth birthday.
- Every day 6,000 people die from HIV/Aids.
- Every 3.6 seconds someone dies of starvation
- 2.6 billion people lack basic sanitation
- 7.7 million "high earners" have assets of more than $1 million dollars.
- The richest 200 people in the world have more wealth than the poorest 2.4 billion.
- £20 billion is spent on aid to the poorest countries while £800 billion is spend on military expenditure by the worlds richest nations
- Britain’s top five banks will make more than £30 billion on profit this year.