The Problem is the System, Not Who Runs It!

As global tensions mount, the working class is paying the price at home. Last year the highest number of firms in 30 years went bust. Others are scaling back or shifting production elsewhere. From universities to high street names like Wilko, to major local employers like Port Talbot steelworks, thousands have lost jobs. Meanwhile, as the national minimum wage reaches its 25th birthday and trails behind inflation, dependence on benefits and food banks is soaring among employed and unemployed workers alike.

The underfunded NHS is at near collapse with both Tories and Labour all but openly acceding to privatisation. Its staff overwhelmed, overworked, under-equipped and underpaid, they are wholly unable to cope as waiting times in A&E and excess deaths continue to climb. It is the same sorry, penny-pinching tale for housing, social care and education. Homelessness is soaring, while the price of housing relative to earnings is the highest for almost 150 years.

Small wonder that substance addiction, depression and anxiety are wreaking destruction on working class communities, with suicides mounting as more people find less reason to go on living.

But the one cause the ruling class can find funds for is the drive to war. UK arms spending this year is at a record £25bn high. The UK already supplies arms and military ‘advisers’ to Ukraine and is now openly acting as a US poodle in the Middle East. As more conflicts break out and capitalism moves “from a post-war to a pre-war world”, sections of the ruling class are considering conscription. Hence a marked surge in advertising for the army aimed at the working class.

Electoral Pantomime

This is the backdrop for our rulers to prepare their ritual farce. Our role is to tick a box and then go home. With the last election little more than a hazy pre-pandemic memory, we have had three Prime Ministers in as many years as the Tories lurch from one scandal to another. Now even by their own standards, they appear to have lost credibility as responsible custodians of the British state.

Meanwhile Labour is gearing up to campaign on a Tory-lite programme which we will be implored to vote for by the unions and Labour hangers-on, on the grounds that we must choose the “lesser evil”. Others will urge us to vote for smaller parties like the Greens or independent candidates offering their own particular brands of watered-down social democracy.

None of these options have any solution for the root problem – capitalism itself. Any appeal to vote for one option only feeds the illusion that we can get somewhere by playing the bosses’ game. Working class power is not found in the ballot box, but built in workplaces, communities and manifested in the streets.

Working Class Response

Workers will have to take matters into their own hands. Our strength comes not only from our numbers but from our role in society: we are the class that produces and distributes all the goods and provides all the services on which the whole of capitalist society is based. It is our labour that creates the surplus value from which the capitalist class derives its profit. It is in this capacity that we hold the power to pose the question of how society is organised.

Recently the UK saw the biggest strike wave in decades. Yet, the majority of strikes ended with little to show for the months of wages lost. As the movement has dwindled it is clear that the victors here were not the workers but the unions, which again shows their vital role as a pressure valve.

To exercise the true extent of our power as a class, we must look beyond the unions and parties like Labour to a new vision of the world where monstrous class-divided society no longer exists. We need our own political organisation, ultimately an international one, to guide the struggle against our common enemy: the owners of the means of production worldwide.

We’ll need to overcome divisions of union membership, industry, national origin, racial and sexual identity. Our quarrel is not with one another, but with our common enemy: the ruling class, the owners of the means of production. They exploit our labour power for their profits and expect us to fight each other to the death on their behalf when their competition reaches its climax. But through our common struggle we can bring an end to their rotten system, and in its place build a society whose motive force is not profit but the fulfilment of human needs. A society without money, without national boundaries, without classes “wherein the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all”. If you share this vision get in touch.

The above article is taken from the current edition (No. 67) of Aurora, bulletin of the Communist Workers’ Organisation.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

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.