VANGUARD - Expressing the viewpoint of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)
For National Independence and Socialism •



Vulture Capitalism. Corporate Crimes, Backdoor Bailouts and the Death of Freedom by Grace Blakeley is the first of two recently-released books which we will be reviewing. Grace Blakely is a staff writer at the English magazine Tribune, and is a political and economic commentator for the BBC.

The book is based around the idea of planning under capitalism. We are led to believe that capitalism is based on the free market, and planning is something that happened in places like the former Soviet Union. However there is a very large element of planning under capitalism.

It is the author’s aim to show how capitalist planning works and how we can start to resist it. She aims to discuss what capitalism is, how it has changed over time, while centralised planning has remained constant. Major institutions capable of planning within capitalist societies: firms, financial institutions, states and empires are examined.  On p13 the author says, “Finally I’ll outline how we can start to replace the current system of oligarchic capitalist planning with democratic socialist planning.”

Vulture Capitalism begins by exposing some of the many scandals surrounding big companies such as Boeing’s sales of faulty aircraft, Henry Ford’s relations with Nazi Germany, the collapse of companies such as Enron and the financial crisis of 2008.

In a chapter titled "Disaster Capitalism" the author exposes how many companies benefitted during the COVID pandemic, receiving large handouts and lucrative government contracts. She shows how companies are benefitting from the climate change emergency and the rise in energy costs arising from the war in Ukraine.

Vulture Capitalism exposes how big corporations, financial institutions such as banks and governments unite to bail out failing companies, including those which really should be allowed to collapse, but which have friends in the right places.

The author refers to initiatives being taken in various countries to base planning at the community level where local people and community organisations are planning for the needs of their communities in areas such as health, education and infrastructure. She sees initiatives like these as a way forward.

However she does recognise that the capitalist state does use violence when challenged. Her analysis of the destruction of the Allende government in Chile makes this clear. She says (p269), “Socialists must struggle within and outside all social institutions - including those of the state - to shift the balance of power within society in favour of workers.”

Vulture Capitalism gives the reader much useful information about the workings of capitalism. A positive feature of Vulture Capitalism is that the author refers regularly to Marx and other Marxist writers in explaining the operation of capitalism and in developing her arguments against it, showing that Marx’s theories are as relevant today as they ever were.