Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bloated Plutocrats Urge Restraint

Grim economic news in Britain today over soaring food and fuel prices and inflation. The refrain from the media commentators and the politicians is the same as ever - "restraint" in working people's pay claims and the monetarist obsession with controlling inflation by forcing working class people to pay for every market difficulty, failure, crisis and slump.

We shall now see whether Thatcherism and its' Blairite continuation have really achieved a permanent hold on the perception of economic interests amongst working people. It has long been encouraging that whilst the yellow media have a certain hold on perception of some political issues like immigration, they have long failed to hoodwink huge numbers over basic economic interests - witness the failure of the Poll Tax. Some of the media even joins in populist attacks on "fat cats" (particularly politicians) awarding themselves huge increases whilst expecting others to cope with rises that do not match inflation.

The attempt by New Labour to force public sector workers to accept pay deals below the real rate of inflation - in the face of massive increases in food and fuel costs - is an attempt to make workers pay for the crisis. It is imposing pay cuts on hundreds of thousands of low paid workers. The rising costs are also impacting heavily on pensioners and claimants, but the government can only continue wittering about welfare "reform". Anger is rising. The Government are widely despised over a whole range of unpopular policies.

All this is a curtain raiser for a longer term and deeper crisis brought on by climate change, resource scarcity and global conflict. The rich and the ruling class the world over will seek to make the poorest and most vulnerable bear the heaviest burdens in this new era. On our side we must begin to organise and fight back. The demand for a "JUST TRANSITION" (to a lower carbon, lower energy, more sustainable and more localised economy) is beginning to be heard more widely - though like "sustainability" the phrase means different things to different people, and we should not expect too much of the TUC, tied as they are to the same Government that is adamant (even at the beginning of the downturn and first ripples of the economic and social Tsunamis to come) that the TUC's members must pay a disproportionate price. Work can be done inside TUC unions, but the task is larger than getting union bureaucracies to voice some watered down demands.

As ever, working people and communities need also to organise independently of political and economic bureaucracies, use their own tactics and strategies and raise their own demands. The rich history of struggle represented by the likes of the IWW is there to be discovered by a new generation.

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At 11:36 am, Anonymous a very public sociologist said...

I'm sure the hypocrisy of the mega rich telling us to tighten up while they think nothing of conspicuously displaying their wealth will not be lost on most people. But whether this transfers into anger and activity remains to be seen ...


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