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Let the sleeping giant speak in 2011

The leaders of the Trades Union Congress are not noted for dramatic statements or exaggerated, let alone rapid, reactions to political change. The TUC’s current general secretary, Brendan Barber, has spent his time in office promoting harmony between social classes and compromise not confrontation.

Therefore alarm bells should ring when Barber warns that 2011 is going to be a “horrible” year, with cuts in benefits and public services, and an increase in unemployment. And that it “could well be the year when the country starts to say no to government”.

Barber is sitting on a ticking time-bomb consisting of more than six million trade unionists, mostly in the public sector, who are about to bear the brunt of the Coalition government’s massive assault on spending. These workers are waiting for some leadership to resist the cuts – and none is, as yet, forthcoming. When their anger explodes, it will threaten men like Barber as well as the government.

The level of suffering will be enormous. A report by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, predicts that unemployment will reach 2.7 million in the year to come, the highest level in 17 years. The draconian cuts in public spending will push unemployment up rapidly, as the private sector fails to absorb the 330,000 public sector jobs due to disappear by 2015.

Job losses will coincide with rapidly rising prices of everything from basic foodstuffs to fuel and utility bills. Rail commuters in the south-east of England face fare rises of between 7.8% and 15% from Sunday for a second-rate service.

There is no question that last month’s unprecedented and militant action by school and university students and their families against soaring tuition fees foreshadows what is to come. Those cuts affected a relatively small section of the population – the middle classes and aspiring working class people. The next wave will touch almost everyone.

The most courageous amongst the union leaders, rail and tube workers’ leader Bob Crow has called for strikes:

We can expect to see workers in both public and private sectors out on the picket lines fighting for jobs and against savage attacks on pensions and standards of living. There is no reason for working people to pay the price for a crisis we didn’t create and which is wholly down to the banks, speculators and politicians.

Too right.

Beyond ResistanceBarber and Labour leader Ed Miliband are fond of dismissing the government's deficit reduction plans as purely “ideological” or “politically motivated” and in so doing deliberately exempt the system known as capitalism. The Coalition’s cuts are, as we establish in our booklet Beyond Resistance, a desperate gamble to keep capitalism in Britain going under conditions of financial and economic crisis which threatens the break-up of the European Union itself.

No country, not even the much vaunted BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) is exempt from the crisis. After the 2008 crash, China’s economic growth was artificially stimulated by what one globalisation analyst describes as a “violent domestic stimulus” of 4 trillion yuan ($580 billion) ... about 13 per cent of gross domestic product in 2008 and constituted ‘probably the largest such programme in history, even including wars’.” (Charles Dumas, author of Globalization Fractures).

Those who have been studying the big global picture and the historic changes which are re-shaping our world are not mincing their words. Just listen to Jeffrey Garten, former US undersecretary of commerce under Bill Clinton. He warns of “exceptional turbulence as the waning days of the global economic order we have known plays out chaotically, possibly destructively.”

The fact is that the kind of corporate-driven, credit-fuelled capitalism we have known for the past three decades has come to a shuddering halt. The prospects for 2011 are a deepening recession and further financial collapse.

We should seek a rebirth of human culture – and a decent life for ordinary people on the planet – arising out of the ashes of global capitalism’s “bonfire of the vanities”.

But it will certainly not be achieved through the TUC’s call for everyone to huddle together on a demonstration at the end of March, by which time tens of thousands of council workers will have lost their jobs as local authorities – many of them Labour controlled – implement the Coalition’s spending cuts.

Nor will plans for protest strike action aimed at forcing the government to change course and stop the cuts be adequate to the task. That is a key lesson from the general strikes in Greece, Spain and Portugal during 2010 where “socialist” governments have smashed public services and pensions.

There is a sleeping giant at the base of our society who has yet to speak. That is the vast majority of people who have everything to gain by throwing off not only the bankers, speculators and politicians who serve them, but the system of private ownership for profit over which they preside.

Let’s make 2011 the year to begin the struggle for power against the ruling political, financial and economic elites, building a network of People’s Assemblies to complete this absolutely necessary transformation.

Corinna Lotz
A World to Win secretary
31 December 2010

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Your Say

'Brendan Barber' says:

I think you are wrong Ms Lotz. It will be an annus horribilus. Honest. And in March (the ideal time for a big march - same name don't you see - don't tell me I'm dragging my feet, I've thought it all through) the TUC's huddle together will actually be most impressive my PA says. Ed Milliband is thinking he might huddle with us, to keep us sweet. Glad I voted for him. Yeah. So there!

John says:

Excellent, Corinna! Let's start planning, organizing and structuring a proletarian force right from the begining of the year to fight for political power!!

Jonathan says:

These six million have at their heart their families and their communities, schools, collages and shops and ‘entertainment’: a culture. This estimate of 2.7m given above is in the context of the cuts in funding and cut back in projects throughout the country rolling like a monster from community to community. The ‘Harrying of the North’ is not really hyperbole, nutritional cuts and heating, already affecting the elderly, if allowed to proceed will take years off life expectancy, not months. As with the Genocide in Ireland, The famine, economic policy and theory are at the root of the Coalitions plans, papers of the time admit this, no WikiLeaks then: the economics of the Tyrant. But this time it is not competing sections of the ruling classes as in the early 19th century. Even with the emerging proletarian organisations in unions and as the Chartists they had, just had to fight each other over policy, the root of which was economic relations. I hold it goes further than ‘banks, speculators and politicians.’

As put in Beyond Resistance, the whole ability to suck extra value out of those that create it, and the complex network of those involved in this, the ‘system known as capitalism’ is in essence the taking of a proportion of the applied effort (work) of social labour.  It is more than the ‘politics of greed’ that attracts them and then haunts them, it is the declines in the internal relationship of this system (a relationship between people) that make them target workers and communities and identify areas of mass savings to extend the life-span of an out-dated and indeed outmoded, system. Especially they eye-up research facilities previously contained within the academic centres and fed by the ‘spirit of excellence’  (R&D Vince Cables says is mostly useless yet, of course, Military and State Necessities will be fully funded as it grows over into academia; see: ‘Military move in on universities’)

Even while profits are ‘apparently’ up the rate by which they extract surplus from workers, and others worldwide, has collapse despite the ‘sleight of hand’ of Reaganomics/Thatcherism (Milton Freeman) in the 80’s with presenting the liberal side of individualism while releasing private property of a size to equal small countries to ‘full freedom’. The secret schemes to take on the miners involved the whole secret state.  They, workers, did not, do not, own property, only obligations under ‘contract’; a ‘free market’ in economics, a strong and violent state. Even the personal property of the ‘citizen is not seen as sacrosanct, not personal in any, well, personal sense. With mortgages, bailiffs, a whole network of debt they suck at the marrow of the whole of society as theirs. The only form of property recognised here is that of ownership of the Means of Production and Contract of which employment is to be enforced, in the last instance, not by ‘free choice’ but by the state. And what they got from it, however, under Thatcher, was  the enforcement of ownership rights down to hire and fire which was an attempt in the new economic crisis to switch or drive history back to earlier economic theories to when the ‘theory’ of laissez-faire first developed and united action was not organised.  Historically it should be noted that everywhere laissez-faire was applied it was so as ‘The National Interest’. Anyone, just anyone, who opposes economic policy, therefore opposes the National Interest!

To expand the exploitation of the working classes and to stunt the growth, now in a new era destroy the unions. All forms of nationalisation were seen in the U.S. and Britain in the 80’s as Monopolies, and Competition was another ‘tease’ of this form of liberalism; but competition under Capitalism has always spiralled upward, has always centralised. So the Big Society?

The same sleight of hand, which the Press are slowly consuming as a juicy morsel, the Big Society is of course the shrunk state in areas such as The NHS, an unleashing of the bloodsuckers of decay; all Thatcherism didn’t deregulate and ‘privatise’ will be up for grabs yes, but more important for them the workers needed to be put to the wheel will be chained and whipped, Duncan Smith grins.

Even in economic theory they are moribund. The state, of course, they will keep big enough, and as the link to the Military in the Universities, ‘slick’ enough, in its essential role as a weapon to enforce economic policy; to take on the opposition a peppering of which was demonstrated in 2010.

Are the Coalition changed in essentials since the 80’s; ever, indeed, since the working class became the force it must take on politically and not those it overthrew to attain power? In the ‘Condition of the Working Class in England’, by Engels, 1845: The Attitude of the Bourgeoisie Towards the Proletariat, that early, said “I have never seen a class so deeply demoralised, so incurably debased by selfishness, so corroded within, so incapable of progress, as the English bourgeoisie; and I mean by this, especially the bourgeoisie proper, particularly the Liberal, Corn Law repealing bourgeoisie. For it nothing exists in this world, except for the sake of money, itself not excluded. It knows no bliss save that of rapid gain, no pain save that of losing gold. In the presence of this avarice and lust of gain, it is not possible for a single human sentiment or opinion to remain untainted.”

Then history ‘plodded’ on as if it belonged to them, was their own personal heirloom and fiefdom. The Aristocratic party, the Tories, took economic power from another part of production. Deregulation of ‘The City’ and of anything available to give life-support to a system that needed only a complete, all inclusive, challenge against the state to sublate as a system was the ‘solution’ to the economic crises of the 80s. At each crisis they (as a whole) took the decay rather personally and lashed out viscously against the up-and-coming force they had created and which would replace it. This lashing-out took a number of forms, the first, though, is ideological. As pointed out before in the development of the struggle against the capitalist class ‘there is nothing in-itself that capitalism can not overcome’: but the further it progresses in its deterioration as a system as a whole that once added value to the productive forces worldwide the nearer to Barbarism is its necessary solutions. It will not graciously bow out, or as ‘it’ expresses relationships the owners of the Means of Production will not ‘move over’; the ‘waning days’ referred to above does not tell them, even though here aware, that, it tells them to arm: actual hire, impose with the most dumb ideological weapons in sections of the community, especially if the pay is meagre, armed men and women. 

Those gains of the working classes started in embryo in the early 19th century which set such an example to be followed worldwide were won at the expense of lives, and communities, and jobs of this or that trade which were rapidly being, then, replaced by new machinery. On the one hand they fought back; on the other they learned new methods of organisation. These, we are the inheritors of, were learning completely new lessons, it was not in a school book, not passed down and lead to, in Britain, the creation of the Labour Party by the Union movement and the political vanguard of its day. By the time of the 1985 miners strike for jobs and communities which pitted them immediately against the state in a naked fight there was still a social memory of the miners strike of 1926, of scabs and betrayals by the TUC.  So also, one can see, with the students, pitted against the state and its recruits, and its press; and note their policy of recruitment and training which dehumanises and degrades the members of communities to allow for flexing with immunity and arrogance, using levels of violence that the  school students referred to in an earlier AWTW piece ‘Resistance must go beyond opposition’ pointed out. These events are undoubtedly part of the assessment of the state in preparation for what is to come. But not the long history and all that went with it, that is sectional, personal, that is part of the culture.

Behind the lie of ‘economic recovery’ so obvious as a lie, and the pretence that the ‘hard year ahead’ is necessary for further recovery can only lurk the preparation and plans to take on resistance ‘full frontal’. To lull the gullible, but they and the troops so used to just taking orders fear social being and can’t get their heads round the internet and social networking, ‘how did you hear that’ as if news and coverage had become a crime. Bacon said ‘knowledge is power’ and oh dear isn’t it so widely available. Russell Brand had ‘a toff’ on ‘speaking’ [for the full reference Channel4] this is the member of the class that did not follow Cameron into politics.

The fact the decay takes on the impression it is mainly as to ‘the banks, speculators and politicians’, is, as is said above, that the last throw of the dice that created a new sub-species, indebted consumers, was that the ‘credit-fuelled capitalism’ which necessitated ‘creative accounting’, involving credit swaps and all kinds of special instruments that even when having some kind of reality as accounting they were not understood by the automatons of the very system that created them. Out of this student body now taking a leading role and out of those forces that oppose this economic system, those that will, sooner or later, whether conscious of the source of that ‘will forward’ or not, who will grasp the economics, the dialectics of motion in society as referred to by Marx in The Afterword below, will come a cadre that will create the new form of accounting necessary both to grasp what this Global Capitalism was doing in essence ‘on the books’ and a form of accounting essential to rectify the rectifiable and to demonstrate that part that is necessary to go forward. From the abacus to die to the computer, it seems fascinating. Marx wrote in the Afterword to the Second German Edition of Volume one of Capital: “The contradictions inherent in the movement of capitalist society impress themselves upon the practical bourgeois most strikingly in the changes of the periodic cycle, through which modern industry runs, and whose crowning point is the universal crisis. That crisis is once again approaching, although as yet but in its preliminary stage; and by the universality of its theatre and the intensity of its action it will drum dialectics even into the heads of the mushroom-upstarts of the new, holy Prusso-German empire.” Now this latest, (and not just a cycle to ‘grow out of’) rolls across the Globe like the last Ice Age. The nature of accounting and the distance of managing Global Capitalism has removed almost all mushroom-upstarts in the academic world, left no ‘practical bourgeoisie’ within the control of policy and the Labour Management (the TUC) so compliant and necessary to hold back the movement see only with growing fear behind them the forces created by capitalism (industrial, national, agricultural, intellectual, and potential ) which are  now being unleashed by its own growing consciousness of the logic of the world of which capitalism is an integral  part.

All contradictions are leading to these conclusions of the necessity and history of change, of the identity of Nature and Society, and struggle, as the only source of its own thinking, not a compliant media. And the historical and the logical both impress themselves together with a firm necessity. Standing opposite Nature and Social Culture and without real consciousness of their historical role is that of the dying class system the present crisis has created a vicious Bastard to Harry the world.

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