Friday, March 08, 2013

The cuts and what to do about them

Although this is not an issue in this election as there is no candidate standing on anti-cuts programme promising to oppose all cuts, this passage from an introduction to a reprint a couple of years ago to a pamphlet Unwaged Fightback: A History of the Islington Action Group of the Unwaged, 1980-1986 makes the same point as us against this strategy:

In Islington itself, Labour councillors implement savage cuts to services one day and lead the 'anti-cuts' marches the next. During the 1980s rate-capping struggles many people invested much support and hope in their elected representatives; disillusion was probably bound to follow, partly because brave lefty leaders get cold feet, or end up sacking workers and making cuts in the end ('with a heavy heart'), usually on the grounds that it's better for them to be in charge than someone worse, they have no choice. In reality they do have little choice, because their real room to manoeuvre IS limited, by central government funding, legal obligations, and so on, even more now than in the '80s.
What to do, then? Harry Lynch, the author of the 2011 introduction, says:

It would be great to have an independent workers movement, that answered both austerity and attempts to co-opt rebellion by Labour councillors, union full-timers, and professional lefties with the proper politeness: occupy the lot, strike, not for a day but for good, and lets run the world ourselves. Time will tell as to if that develops, and how.

Yes, of course. If such a movement existed, then socialism would be just round the corner, not that staging a syndicalist General Strike to try to overthrow capitalism would be the most intelligent way of proceeding.

Still, it is true that, given capitalism in an economic crisis, there is not much that workers can do other than protest in the hope of getting a few exemptions or slowing the cuts down.

The real lesson is that, since all that capitalism has to offer is austerity and cuts, we should concentrate on organising to bring it to an end by political action aimed at ushering in a society based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production so that there can be produce for directly for use and not for profit, and distribution on the principle of "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs". Socialism.

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