Saturday’s socialist speak out
The Australian Council of Trade Unions had its once in 3 year conference during the week, with much hand wringing about how to reinvigorate the movement.
There was the sight of union busting, ‘ruling for the rich’ maggot Bob Hawke singing Solidarity Forever; the sight of Bill Kelty, the architect of the class collaborationist, wealth shifting and rank and file destroying Accord, declaiming that Labor and the unions needed to rally around the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. It was all too sickening.
Partly this handwriting was a response to the Hospital Services Union black hole of abuse of members’ funds and the Craig Thomson affair. The allegations are but a symptom of a wider disease, one who has seen union membership plummet from over 50% in the 70s to less than 20% today. The problem is loss of rank and file input into let alone control over their unions and officials.
The concentration and centralisation of unions and union power was and is part of the inherent logic and practice of class collaboration. Members running their own unions might actually taken the boss rather than as the Accord acolytes wanted, and the sons and daughters of that treachery want, capitulate to them.
The trickle down theory of wealth doesn’t work and that is becoming clearer across Europe and North America. Here in Australia it is gospel not just among the 2 main political parties, the ALP and the Liberals, but the ACTU as well.
Partly the hand wringing is also a response to Labor’s disastrous standing (or should that be crawling?) in the polls. At around or below 30%, Labor will be wiped out at the next election. Julia Gillard’s legacy will be Tony Abbott.
An alternative response might be to abandon neoliberalism and adopt real class war – attack the bosses not just rhetorically but in policy terms too. Tax the rich till their pips squeak.
With work days lost through strikes per thousand employees now at 5 compared to over 1000 in the halcyon days of the early to mid 70s for the union movement and the Labor Party, perhaps the problem for the ALP and the ACTU is not too much ‘class warfare’ but not enough.
In a classic display of the antagonism between democracy and markets, Greece will go to the polls and almost certainly elect an anti-austerity radical left reformist party, SYRIZA, to lead the government. Markets have plunged with fears of ‘uncertainty’ and the ‘contagion’ (also know as democracy) spreading.
Australia’s stock market is now at its lowest level since the so-called end of the GFC.
That is because the crisis never ended. We are in what Andrew Kliman and others call the great recession.
The too big too fail approach means that capital cannot devalorise effectively enough and so lay the groundwork for a better rebound. The history of bailouts shows that the too big to fail companies have been saved and so saved the system from immediate and perhaps existential crises. But because that creative destruction didn’t occur allowing remaining companies to pick up cheap assets, the recoveries have been weaker and weaker until now they are flat-lining if Europe and the US are any guide.
In Chile 100,000 students demonstrated on Wednesday against education attacks, part of their year long struggle. In Quebec somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 students are on strike against massive fee increases and have been for months. The Government is about to criminalise their protests.
With the anti-austerity movement in Europe, the Arab Spring and the brief flame of the Occupy movement, there is hope that resistance can and will break out or intensify and that real class struggle will come back to life. One day soon we can hope we might be able to say well grubbed old mole.