Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Angry Workers of the World, Why we can't go back to 1945 keynesianism.

"If we look at the social situation that pushed the ruling class in the UK into adopting 'neoliberal' and 'finance sector' oriented political strategies - rather than just seeing it as a political 'choice' made by Thatcher and Reagan - then we can see that there is 'no easy way back' in the sense of Keynesian measures. The process of financialisation in the late 70s and 80s was an expression of a deeper profit crisis and of credit-based global expansion, but it was first and foremost, the only way to deal with the collective unrest of the working class."

"One sign that 'international markets' had little trust in the ability of the UK government to get things back on track was the pound Sterling Crisis in 1976, a dramatic and sudden slump in the pounds value. It is rarely mentioned that the IMF mobilised what was, at the time, their biggest ever loan package and in return asked for a 20% reduction in deficit spending. This, Britain's very own structural adjustment policy, and not Thatcher, introduced 'neoliberal measures' in the UK. "

"If we take into account the two major slumps in 1973 and 1976, the social pact between Labour and trade union bureaucracy in 1975 and the internationally concerted austerity plan (IMF loans) then we can get a sense of the severity of the attacks: in this context, the strike wave of the 'Winter of Discontent' in 1978-9 was outstanding and a signal to the ruling class that something qualitatively different had to happen in order to take on working class militancy"

"There is no generalised plan for a material restructuring as such, but we see connections between current changes in 'knowledge production' (casual contracts for lecturers, attraction for foreign students, new forms of cheap 'flexible qualifications'); the shifts in production and manufacturing (turning Ford Dagenham from an assembly fortress into 'global engine export hub); the expansion of the logistics sector (London Gateway, Dubai Port, Cross Rail etc.); development of a new 'energy-regime' (fracking, 'green-lean tech); and the 'Big Society'/Serco-isation type of restructuring of 're-production', also in order to tackle high costs in social 'care' and policing ('community care', outsourcing and reorganisation of public services). Without having to credit state and capital with a cohesive plan which they don't have we should try to see developments like 'fracking' and the protests against it within this wider context of general restructuring."

"Our criticism towards the (radical) left is that the cuts are too often interpreted as merely the 'self-serving' measures of unappetising Tories who want to feed their banker friends. While we don't deny this personal aspect of the austerity regime we think that this point misses a) the systemic context of austerity, which first of all shows the weakness and fragility of their regime; b) the fact that it is not only about 'saving money' in different departments, but to put pressure on the social wage of the working class - from nursery cuts, to the bedroom tax, to public sector redundancies; c) which means that the working class is not merely affected as 'receivers of benefits', but the social rate of exploitation is supposed to be increased; d) which shifts the perspective slightly: exploitation depends on the question of how they make us work or comply with their measures, which shows their dependency on us; e) recent years have not only brought about increasing social 'atomisation', but also conditions which have the potentials for a more general fight-back: e.g. 'unemployment' or 'the unemployed' are not aliens, no matter how much propaganda is spewed to the contrary, but a biographical experience of nearly every worker. 'The low wage segment' does not only consist of isolated copy-machine operators, but for example, of cleaners in areas of enormously high urban density, of call centre workers in large offices or warehouse workers, who supply hundreds of large supermarkets with goods. We have to analyse where the austerity attack on conditions comes together with new forms of concentration (concentration of common conditions or concentration in terms of workplaces) in order to find potentials for a collective response. "

"Here we see the political squeeze for the state: the short-term figures require further spending cuts and these cuts cause social frictions. The state therefore has to make sure that the cuts don't hit everyone in the same way, the cuts have to be functional in a sense of 'divide-and-rule'"

"Socially the extent of the 'low wage segment' is largely kept invisible. While the question of 'benefit claimants' and general poverty is more widely debated, either to blame or to pity the 'poor', the fact that increasing numbers are working for a poverty wage is ignored. A modern capitalist country can deal with 'marginalised sections' by stigmatisation, social welfare or control, but if its representatives have to admit that not only does the system have little to offer to 'hard-working' people, but that the expansion of the low wage sector and increasing work pressure is the only way out of the crisis they can propose, then this looks too bleak for their taste. It also sheds a different light on their 'recovery', once we emphasise that four out of five jobs created after 2010 belong to the low wage segment (wages below 60% of average pay, meaning around £7.70 p.h.). "

"We have to state that most of the 'anti-austerity struggle' so far has been closely linked to the (electoral) politics of the Trotzkyite populist left. We say this based on our (limited) experience within 'Hackney against the Cuts', during ATOS and Save the NHS protests (Ealing), bedroom tax protests (Tower Hamlets) and 'Peoples' Assemblies'. Either the protest gave a platform to Labour politicians, called for 'putting pressure on Labour councillors' rather than for direct action or for voting or standing as an candidate for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC). By now we would feel uncomfortable to mobilise work-mates or other working class people to these protests. This is not due to sectarianism, but the belief that the instrumentalisation of these 'protests' through the left parties will either put people off or will end in disillusionment of 'failed' electoral politics. Things look similar when it comes to initiatives like the national shop-stewards network, which seems now completely in the hands of the SP and reduces itself to 'attempting to push the TUC to call for a 24-hour general strike'. Comrades in Scotland told us about similar developments when it comes to the 'Radical Independence Campaign': the struggle about concrete social issues is replaced by a struggle for a post-independence 'socialist Scotland'. We want to learn from comrades who take part in genuine efforts (the various 'coalitions against poverties', self-organised ATOS protestors, local housing groups etc.) by debating their experiences in a wider context. "

"Within the radical milieu in London we observe as strong tendency towards individual professionalisation (academic career, becoming paid 'organisers') and individual impoverishment. The income differences within 'the scene' increase at a faster pace than in the rest of society. Collective efforts become increasingly difficult (squatting law, lack of resources). We feel a great need to address these tendencies on two levels: a) what is our critique of a 'profession' and of 'movement jobs'; b) how can we discuss and organise jobs and reproduction collectively and politically again. The (autonomist) left addresses this problem of 'professional precarity' and 'fragmented struggles' by digging out old, well-meaning, but finally individualising concepts like the 'guaranteed income demand', which we have to criticise. [5]"

"Recent mobilisations against EDL marches and debates about the rise of UKIP revealed the problems of 'anti-fascism' of the left. By siding with 'democratic' state forces (local Labour councillors or 'community leaders') against the far-right, the left fails to address the fundamental questions when it comes to understanding the far-right threat: the material question of 'competition on the labour-market' (UKIP) and problems of 'communities' (EDL) cannot be answered by 'liberal multiculturalism' or democratic appeals towards 'social unity'; facing this type of left-politics even the populist right-wing rank-and-file can present themselves as 'rebels' against neoliberalism - while the official party doctrine and leadership is quite clearly neoliberal. A proletarian critique of the notion of the 'community' and of the 'inbuilt fascism' of the democratic state is as necessary as a critique of 'national protectionism' as an answer to competition on the labour market or (language, cultural) fragmentation at work or in the proletarian areas"


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Forget the ‘golden age’ of capitalism: there’s no return, and our future can be better

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