Osborne’s Axe Shows Capitalism Offers No Future

Image - “We are all in the same boat” special - “A few more cuts and they’ll see how fair we are!”

The Cuts. The much-heralded cuts are now with us. They represent the biggest drop in Government spending in 90 years. It came with few surprises. The main bad news was well trawled before the 20 October announcement. This included

  • 490,000 civil service jobs to go.
  • Local authority spending to be cut by 28% over four years (which means council workers jobs will go and services will be slashed).
  • Retirement age deferred until 66 for both men and women by 2020.
  • Public sector workers to face pay cuts through increased pension contributions at a time of pay freeze.
  • Benefits are to be slashed by a further £7 billion, making a total of £18bn when the £11bn already announced is included. This targeted at incapacity and housing benefits as well as tax credits.
  • Social housing tenants will lose security of tenure and have to pay rent 80% of “market values”.

And this is just for starters. Down the road lie more attacks (raising the pension age to 68 is one and don’t forget VAT goes up in January). The Cameron crew tell us that “the markets will punish us” if we don’t accept their cuts to get government spending under control. The British state has never defaulted in its history. It enjoys the top credit rating. The punishment would be to lose this credit rating and make future borrowing more expensive. But which “markets” are we talking about here? Do they mean the same financial markets which speculated wildly leading to the financial meltdown of 2007? Is this the same sector which got at least £850 billions of “taxpayers’ money” to bail them out for their gambling? This bailout has added 25% to government debt as a percentage of GDP. This is the root of the attacks on workers.

The financiers are still paying out billions in bonuses. They have only seen a small rise in capital gains tax (i.e. a tax on wealth gained without real work). Meanwhile a million jobs of innocent wageworkers are likely to be axed.

The Real Crisis. These are not just “Tory cuts” as Labour and the unions claim. Wage workers are not just facing a period of temporary belt tightening. They are up against a system which is now decades into a severe crisis.

The real purchasing power of wages has been in decline since the early 1970s when the post-war boom ended. The unleashing of the financial and speculative bubble of the last twenty years is just part of the various desperate attempts to escape the crisis. Now that the latest housing bubble has burst the working class will pay again.

The Labour Party, and the unions, now pretend that there is a capitalist solution which is better for workers. In fact Labour had earmarked similar cuts. The Labour Party colluded in and encouraged financial speculation because it was the only way that accumulation could appear to carry on. The truth is that capitalism is revealing that it can only continue through the long term reduction in living standards of the working class. When a BA boss told BA staff that they should “think Chinese” he was not talking about a takeaway meal but about accepting that wages should decrease towards subsistence levels in order to maintain the profitability of British capitalism.

And how to fight it The cuts have been implemented cleverly. Even now those who are earmarked for the sack have not been told. Everyone is in a state of wait-and-see. And the attack on “dole scroungers” is not only an attempt to divide us, it will also reduce wages as more will be competing for fewer jobs. In this situation premature stunts of the SWP rent-a-mob type will only dissipate the energy for genuine protest. On the other hand the unions will try to ensure that any fightback will be contained to a single sector here or another workplace there. We need to recognise that “we are all in this together”, not with the lying millionaires sitting in the Cabinet, but as a class. Every attack on one is an attack on all. If we don’t recognise this then if the banks were “too big to fail” we will be “too small to succeed”. We have to make ourselves too united to be ignored.

In the long run we have also to recognise that, through all its ups and downs, the trajectory of capitalism offers us only worsening living conditions. Those things we have won over two centuries of struggle will be taken away from us because the capitalist class have no alternative. The alternative is for workers to take over themselves and organise production for real human needs and not the abstract money profits of some faceless financier. This is not on the immediate agenda but if we begin a real fight the logic of our struggle will take us there. If we fail to fight then our class enemy will be bolder and more attacks will follow.

We have a world to win. Join us to work for it.

Aurora (en)

Aurora is the broadsheet of the ICT for the interventions amongst the working class. It is published and distributed in several countries and languages. So far it has been distributed in UK, France, Italy, Canada, USA, Colombia.