Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Rising Revolt - French Workers Show The Way

Events in France over the last 48 hours show that whatever the ruling class of Europe thought they could get away with in terms of making the ordinary people pay for the profligacy, recklessness and irresponsibility of the bankers (and their tame government stooges) is now seriously being questioned. This is immensely heartening.
After the people of Iceland showed what they felt and drove the neo-liberal government there from office - and Greek workers and farmers have used the example of their students and youth to go on the offensive against the capitalists - the general strike in France shows that the stakes are being raised. This crisis of capitalism gives immense opportunities, the likes of which have not been seen for a couple of generations, for a reshaping of the world into something where workers and ordinary people, not banks, corporations and corrupt politicians set the agenda.

The IMF report this week showed the scale of what is faced - and showed how in Britain this crisis is likely to be deeper, longer lasting and more consequential than elsewhere. Quite clearly this "recession" (the "D" word is still only hinted at) is said to be going to be worse than any of those of the 70s, 80s or 90s in Britain.

However, although it seems that it takes longer for the working class of Britain to rouse itself than in other parts of continental Europe, the ruling class here should not be complacent, things are beginning to move. The angry walk-outs over social dumping and job cuts that have sprung up this week are a sign of the new mood. Gordon Brown's attempt at whipping up nationalism and racism - "British jobs for British Workers" - is quoted back at him in a new and more dangerous (for him) context in relation to corporate plans to replace local labour.

Obviously there are dangers here also for the workers, in that little petty nationalists and fascists will see the nature of the dispute that has started in Lincolnshire and Teeside as a massive opportunity for the propagation of their ideas. However - the left and union activists should not allow this to happen - this is not an issue primarily about "National interest" or immigration, but about the capitalist class acting in its usual immoral and insensitive way to use working people as pawns in their money-making game. It is also about the labour laws of the new European Capitalist superstate that have been opposed in campaigns led by the likes of the RMT

Meanwhile, the ruling class fall to arguing amongst themselves - hurrah! - Obama (either because he does not see it as good PR at the moment or because he really is pursuing a different agenda) shuns the depressed elite jamboree at Davos and various others grandstand and stage walkouts there.

The opportunity is arising for raising more radical demands than it has been possible to get a hearing for for many a long year. These demands - that workers should not pay the price of the crisis, that economic democracy is something that should be taken seriously and explored, that politics should not be about swapping representatives of the same plutocratic class every few years that their inevitable corruption becomes blatant and that transition to a new "green" economy must be worker-led and socially just - can unite the disparate elements of the left and workers' organisations in Britain and begin to make the challenges that our European comrades are making. When this process gets going in enough countries we will begin to see the marvellous change in consciousness where huge masses of people begin to see that another world truly is possible.

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At 12:07 pm, Blogger Charlie Marks said...

Great post, comrade.

For their defiance of the anti-union laws, the oil refinery workers show the example to be followed here.

The last time there were serious talks about a general strike here was at the time of the last recession, and I don't feel premature in saying that we could be looking at a prelude to this if the protests snowball in terms of consciousness - where's our bailout?

Worth noting the effect of the recession in Ireland, where workers are being bombarded with propaganda that only a massive cut in wages will make up for the competitive advantage lost by the weakness of the pound against the Euro. From what I hear from relatives, the expectation is of Iceland-style social unrest.


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