We are in the midst of the deepest ever crisis of capitalism – worse than the one that sparked the 1930s’ great depression and WWII.
Although it burst into the public eye as a banking crash in 2008, this is in fact another overproduction crisis of the type identified by Marx in his great work, Capital.
Now, our rulers are trying to save their collapsing system by transferring thousands of billions of dollars of wealth from the working class to the robber barons of finance capital. While the vast majority are being squeezed ever harder, a few super-rich billionaires are making record profits. Oxfam recently pointed out that the world’s richest 100 people could end extreme poverty in the world four times over!
If workers want to stop this transfer of wealth, we must organise ourselves effectively. We did not create this crisis; on the contrary, it is workers who have produced the wealth that gives our rulers their power! But instead of excess goods being distributed to make our lives better, they are stockpiled or destroyed, and factories are closed down, because no profits can be made.
This is the insanity of capitalism – where people can starve because there is too much food! Our full fury needs to be directed at giving the boot to the handful of bloodsuckers who rule Britain – and to the identikit Labour, Tory and LibDem career politicians who serve them in government.
Who can lead this fight?
The ConDem government has launched an unprecedented attack on the working class, affecting jobs, welfare, health, education, legal aid, and social and youth facilities. There is much anger, and attempts at organising this anger are building up – along with efforts to make sure it is diverted into activities that do not challenge the status quo.
The latest initiative is the People’s Assembly (PA), whose founders are hoping the country’s various anti-cuts movements will form a single body of resistance against austerity under their leadership.
The PA’s launch statement was signed by Britain’s biggest unions, and by a host of notorious ‘Left’ worthies. These self-appointed ‘usual suspect’ leaders claim they will create a movement “broad ... and powerful enough to generate successful coordinated action ... and demonstrations against austerity”.
But when one of the PA’s leading lights, ‘left’ Labour hopeful Owen Jones, was asked recently why his party was being welcomed into the assembly, he replied that it was because of Labour’s links to the unions, so that “at least there is capacity for workers to be represented”.
This takes us to the heart of the matter. The PA leaders say they want to take meaningful action to stop the cuts, but they propose to achieve this aim by handing our campaigns over to the same union leaders who have steadfastly refused to take on the fight, and to the same Labour party that oversaw privatisation and austerity (and predatory wars abroad) when in power, and that promises more of the same if elected in 2015!
Meanwhile, Labour councils are implementing cuts, and Labour-affiliated trade unions are failing utterly to use their power to stop cuts, save public-sector jobs or stop privatisation in the NHS and education. Moreover, in their 3 and 6 June speeches, shadow chancellor Ed Balls and Labour leader Ed Miliband both declared that Labour would carry on with even more cuts if elected.
Many of the union leaders who are giving their ‘support’ to the PA, and who will certainly expect to have a deciding say in whatever it does, are supporting Labour’s austerity plans.
Unite’s Len McCluskey said: “If Ed Miliband continues in this vein, then we will win working people back to Labour.” He even endorsed Ed’s forced labour scheme, offering to “bring these promises to life”.
Such statements by leading trade unionists show what a blatant fraud the PA is. Far from being a “national forum for anti-austerity views”, developing a “strategy for resistance to mobilise millions of people”, the Assembly is being conjured into life merely to help get the anti-worker, pro-austerity imperialist Labour party elected in 2015.
Unity: who with and what for?
As if to prove the point, the leadership of the Stop the War Coalition (StW), who wrecked the anti-war movement in the service of the Labour party, have now moved on to the PA for a repeat performance.
In 2003, 2 million people demonstrated in the hopes of stopping the Iraq war – the biggest demonstration London had ever seen. StW was supposed to be the umbrella organisation that would bring about the unity necessary to stop the war. What it actually did was to ensure that the mass response to the war was as muted and ineffective as possible.
First, the leaders flatly refused to organise any action to disrupt or sabotage the ruling class’s war effort (such as urging rail unions not to transport weaponry or media unions not to transmit war propaganda).
And second, they joined with the ruling-class media in maligning those who were targeted by the imperialists’ wars. Today, having successfully turned 2 million anti-war protestors into passive cynics, and with the wars still raging, StW has dwindled to a trickle.
Is this what we want for our anti-cuts movement? If you call a plumber to fix a leak and instead he floods your house, would you hire him again?
Already we can see a decline in numbers who are organising and turning out to anti-cuts protests. In four years, these ‘leaders’ have offered no leadership and done absolutely nothing to harness the collective strength of the working class, who are increasingly becoming resigned to austerity and falling for capitalist propaganda that seeks to divert us with scapegoats (scroungers, muslims, etc) and to divide us according to such Victorian categories as ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’, ‘strivers’ and ‘shirkers’.
The Grand Old Dukes of Stop the War (Jeremy Corbyn, Tony Benn, Lindsey German, Andrew Murray, Kate Hudson) and the TUC will be well rewarded if they succeed in marching ten thousand men and more up to the top of the hill and down again, but they are taking us for fools if we let them do it, and laughing all the way to the honours list (Sir Brendan Barber, anyone?)
Such fake friends as these are as much a part of our problem as the ConDem government. They must be exposed, opposed, isolated and got rid of. Only then will we be free to create a real unity of all those interested in fighting for the working class.
We need a leadership that is prepared to help us to take on the British ruling class and win, by whatever means necessary.
In the short term, only drastic and direct mass action can save our services, schools, hospitals and jobs.
In the longer term, we need to organise ourselves to replace this insane and wasteful system, which degrades and dehumanises us at every turn through war, poverty, disease, unemployment, ignorance, racism and greed, with planned socialist production that can provide a decent future for all.