There is an Alternative - It is Anti-Capitalist

On June 30 800,000 public sector workers will be on strike. For most it will be the first time they have done so in their lives. Many will attend rallies and demonstrations or picket lines. At the rallies, union leaders will tell them that “there is an alternative” to the cuts. There is, but not the one they are trying to sell …

The Crisis

The first thing we have to recognise is that we are not just in a financial crisis. This is not a crisis caused only by “greedy bankers”. Although the financiers are to blame for the speculation and bad loans of the last 20 years or so the crisis is older than that. Ever since 1971, when the post-war boom came to a final end, the system has stagnated. Workers have paid the price for this - real wages today are lower than in 1973 (and that’s official). But this has not been enough to revive capital accumulation. Although more profits have been squeezed out of an increasingly exploited workforce they have not been enough to revive the global economy. The massive transfer of production to places like China (where wages are miniscule) and financial speculation have proved to be no “solutions”. The financial speculation came to a halt in 2007-8 when, as we had predicted for a decade, the fantasy of increasing debt finally hit the buffers.

To stop the system melting down completely governments all over the planet bailed out the financial sharks. They had no choice. A banking collapse would have cut off the revenue streams created by financial bodies which redirect the world’s wealth to the richest countries. In Britain the government put up £850 million to “save the banks”. And what are the same financial institutions doing today? They are insisting that government debt (mostly due to the bailout of banks) should be reduced or else they will cut its credit rating. This will massively increase the interest the state has to pay on its debt. Their solution is therefore more cuts and more attacks on a working class which has already suffered enough. Insane? Certainly maddening!

This is Class War

As the tables below demonstrate (if you don’t accept the evidence in front of your own eyes!) the cuts fall heaviest on the working class. Many proposed cuts have not yet kicked in (some will be next year, some in 2016 and beyond). Already, across the UK almost 1 in 4 households have no-one in full time work. Part-time, casual and temporary work have replaced full-time jobs. Wage freezes and cuts in the public and private sectors have further reduced purchasing power. Inflation is above the official 4% and rising, especially in the basics (food and fuel) which working class families mainly spend on.

And surprise, surprise, profits have risen. The Financial Times (the bosses’ business paper) explained why in September 2010 when they wrote, there has been “a big shift from labour to capital”. And it shows. Executive pay has never been higher, the demand for luxury goods has increased enormously and bankers’ bonuses are back to where they were before the 2007-8 financial meltdown. The rich are richer now in relation to the working class than at any time since 1914. Capitalists used to justify their disgusting wealth as the reward for “taking risks”. This was always a bit of a myth since most capitalists depended on inherited wealth, and one success story hid a hundred failures. Under modern capitalist conditions it is a downright lie. There is no longer such a thing as “moral hazard” when you can ruin the lives of millions (pensioners, housebuyers, workers etc) when the state bails you out for your errors. The current insanity demonstrates the irrationality of modern capitalism. It is a system in decline but it will carry on causing misery so long as we accept it.

The capitalists know it, which is why they are already on the offensive in this class war. The first step was the announcement of the cuts in our health, education and social services. And no sooner did the NUT, ATL and CPS announce that the result of their strike ballots was an overwhelming vote in favour of strikes (albeit on relatively low turnouts) than the bloodhounds of the capitalist press were unleashed. Led by the Daily Mail and The Sun they questioned the validity of the ballots (almost as low as the support for the current coalition government!) but also consciously tried to divide workers in the state and private sectors. They told us that state workers were “privileged” because they still had a guaranteed pension to look forward to whilst the “wealth creators” in the private sector didn’t. What they failed to say was that this was because the private sector bosses had ripped off their employees for years by raiding their pension funds to keep companies afloat and by ending final salary schemes across the board. Now they want all workers to be either dead before they qualify for a pension or live only a little while after retiring.

Then Vince Cable weighed in by telling the GMB conference that any concerted strike action against these attacks would lead to new legislation against strikes (very “liberal” of him). And all this at a time when the government’s own figures show that the number of days lost through strikes is at an all-time low. This cannot be brushed aside. We have not yet really begun to fight back. Currently there are good reasons for this. Most important of all is the fear factor. Those who have a job fear losing it as the chances of finding a new one are slim. Second, there is the ever-diminishing hope that the worst of the crisis may be over. Many are not yet aware that more cuts will kick in next year and even beyond. Living with the cuts is already a reality for many but the sustained misery which this is producing has some way to run. When experience of what capitalism is doing to us becomes more widespread then the question of how to fight back will be on the agenda once again.

Fighting Back

One day strikes and mass demonstrations alone will change nothing. Union leaders like Dave Prentis (Unison) are enthusiastic about them as they admit openly because they give them “leverage” to bring the government back to “negotiations” over pensions. But what is there to negotiate? Details at most (retire at 67 or later?). The fact is that one day strikes and ritual demonstrations which march us from A to B just to listen to empty speeches from fatuous figures of the Left are not going to change anything. And unions also divide rather than unite us. Why, for example are the Unison workers not striking with their state sector colleagues on June 30? Unison’s low paid workers may not have higher pension contributions to come but they do have to wait until 66 before retiring. And when the TUC talks of a “real alternative” they mean a return of New Labour. As recent history makes clear the difference between Labour and the Coalition is just a matter of detail. Labour too relied on financial speculation and Labour too always seeks to “please the markets” (i.e. the financial institutions). Not one capitalist faction can answer our needs because all support cuts in the name of capitalist stability. This is why a fight against the cuts also has to be a fight against the entire capitalist system which spawns them.

There is no short-term quick fix here. Our fight will be a long one. June 30 is not an end but might just be the beginning of the fightback. In any case the working class have to see that the case for an alternative to capitalism is glaring.

However an effective fight can only be waged when we take the struggle into our own hands. That means more than the odd day of protest or a carefully managed procession stewarded by the unions and the police. It means organising across workplace, trade union, and any other artificial boundary which prevents workers uniting as a class. Organising from the bottom. Organising without regard to capitalism’s rules and regulations but simply on the basis of working class democracy: committees of elected and immediately recallable delegates. At some point it will mean challenging the basis of capitalism itself: the wages system, production for profit, money and financial speculation. It will mean replacing it with a rational organisation of society where everyone will be involved in defining and deciding how to directly meet society’s needs. Some call it “socialism”, others “libertarian communism” but whatever label you give it this has nothing in common with the totalitarian Stalinist monster that was the old USSR.

It is a system based on a society producing for human needs, and controlling social development in a peaceful world without class divisions, without millionaires and starving millions. A world which is organised according to the motto from each according to their ability; to each according to their need.

This is our alternative and it will have to be fought for politically. This is why we are in favour of a world wide communist party which will coordinate our scattered struggles and challenge the capitalist power structure everywhere. This is not a party of government (we have no “leaders”) to put yet another set of exploiters in charge but a fighting party which leads the onslaught on capital. We are committed to finding ways to work with other like-minded working class organisations in order to reach the wider working class. If you agree with our vision help to turn it into reality by joining us!


Looks as if Prentis will not even hold a strike ballot on taking action, unspecified, in the autumn. According to todays Guardian he is arguing that meaningful negotiations are begining to take place with the government. This highlights the fear that union leaders have of thousands of workers taking strike action this action runs the danger of getting out of control especially in a situation where millions of workers are angry about the scale of cuts.

What this means for us is that an opportune period is opening where workers especially young workers will become interested in left communist ideas. Thats why June 30 iis important for making contact with this young generation and maintaing contact for the future struggles which is on the agenda.

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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.