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New Left Review I/70, November-December 1971


Robin Blackburn

The Heath Government: A New Course for British Capitalism

The eruption of the international financial crisis last August has thrown into sharp relief an often neglected dimension of inter-imperialist contradictions—namely the relation between the domestic class struggle and the international competition of the major imperialist states. There are two ways of neglecting this relationship: one simply regards the struggle of each working class against its own bourgeoisie as a more or less self-contained process dependent on the traditional or innate virtues and vices of the respective protagonists; the other presents an anonymous and undifferentiated international capitalism riven by an equivalent and omnipresent contradiction between labour and capital. It is now becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the simple fact of an interconnection between the domestic and the international policies of the different ruling classes in the imperialist states. But this does not mean that the problem is adequately thought through or even correctly posed. In Britain the standard solution even for the Marxist Left is to insist periodically that the ruling class is attempting to solve the problems of British capitalism at the expense of the British working class. This statement is, of course, absolutely true, but it would be true of every capitalist class and its government. The advent of the Heath Government necessitates a more precise account of the strategy upon which the ruling class has now embarked.

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