Since the current economic crisis broke out in 2007, the bosses and their paid politicians have tried to persuade us that if we tighten our belts and accept painful cuts, then the ‘good old days’ will return. However, it has become increasingly clear that their imposed cuts have only made the situation worse, as we enter a second recession. Whether in Greece or Ireland pro-capitalist governments keep coming back for more cuts, but still their economies decline. This is as good as it gets for the exploited under capitalism – more austerity, more wars and more environmental devastation.
We need to argue for, and take action, so that we can move towards a new form of society. A genuine communism (not the aberration which failed in the USSR) based upon the principle of
from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs. Capitalism’s days may be numbered, but unless we act, it could drag us all into barbarism or worse. Only if people have confidence that there is a real alternative, will they take the necessary action to defeat the cuts promised by Con-Dems, Labour and SNP alike.
We need to control our organisations
Adopting a defensive posture is a strategic error. We need to go far beyond opposition to further cuts and present a vision of an alternative and outline how that can come about. We need to spell out the obstacles to be overcome. First among these are the Trade Union and Labour Party leaderships. For a century their timid and limited reformism has squandered a wave upon wave of rank and file militancy. New Labour barely pretends to care any more. It is time to build and control our own independent organisations – a real alternative to top-down manipulated, dead end, ‘day of action – back to work tomorrow’ fronts. These just dissipate our energies and offer us up for New Labour’s cuts tomorrow.
The cuts which have descended on the public sector fall heavily on women, resulting in violence against women in all its forms. It is likely to be women that are most severely affected by the changes to housing benefit, to child benefit and to working tax credit. It is likely to be women who will pick up the slack as social care is slashed and subsidies for childcare disappear. It is likely to be women who absorb the rising anger of a generation of youth cast aside unable to obtain either employment or further education. Women have been disproportionately affected by the public sector cuts. Our position is clear: capitalism and patriarchy breed violence. What we are confronting today, in these austerity budgets, is systemic violence that includes poverty, unemployment, and inadequate housing, childcare, social services and access to education – coupled with discrimination based on gender, age, sexual preference and ability. We need to counter this with free, quality social provision for all. There needs to be a policy of zero tolerance of violence against women and resources allocated needed to achieve this goal.
Make capitalism history
Implementing these measures will start to create a just and humane society, but only a start. While a few privileged families own great wealth and control the productive capacity of our country, the vast majority of people will be exploited by the few. Only a socialist transformation of society can change this. We need to move rapidly to a communist society. Cooperation will replace competition. Working people will be motivated by the desire to make quality goods and provide quality services while ensuring the well-being of the entire society, rather than each individual trying to acquire the most material goods. Instead of a profit-based market, the economy will rely on democratic planning. In a communist society, hierarchy and discrimination will be abolished. Gender relations will be transformed and women will participate in every aspect of the society on the basis of full equality with men.
Communism is not a utopian vision, but rather an immediate necessity if disaster is to be averted. It can only be achieved through the conscious actions of a mobilized working class. Only the militancy of a rank and file insurgency based in the workplace linked to direct action in the community can establish the basis for the mass movement that we need.