There is an alternative to the cuts - blogging an abandoned draft

Back at the time of the November 24th strike and the budget I felt there was a need to make a brief argument that there was nothing inevitable about the way the cuts were being implemented.  And to then move on to state how we could force the implementation of such a 'program.'  This was one of a couple of pieces drafted for discussion by the Social Solidarity Network in order to adopt a simple piece of text we could then try and build from.  Unfortunately as part of the general demoralisation due to the lack of resistance to the budget and the cancellation of the December 3rd strike the SSN process also fell apart.  Having drafted the text which is now orphaned I thought I'd share that draft via this blog.

The specific figures that are contained in it should be pretty accurate.  Basically I took the figures from the Sinn Fein alternative budget (which were for a similar but very much more modest proposal) and scaled them up to the level required to take the burden off the working class and transfer it to the capitalist class.  They have full timers and access to government statistics so I'd expect that their figures were solid enough.  I don't so a bit of multiplication seemed fair enough.

The source of course also makes it clear that this is not intended as a revolutionary program (as the last line of this text also does).  For some 'pro revolutionaries' this makes this text terrible, they see the process by which most people will become revolutionary as a mixture of waiting for the inevitable march of history and repeating over and over that 'capitalism is to blame'.  I've never been much of a believer that such methods lead anywhere, rather I reckon that it is the experience of militant struggle that sees mass revolutionary movements arise.  Abstract 'capitalism is bad' arguments convince a tiny minority of intellectuals (read theory nerds) in quiet periods but the tiny 'pro-revolutionary' groups thus created have been self-selected for those least able to build from them to influence mass movements. And so they tend to always get bypassed by social democrats on the one hand and new, informal and spontaneous organisations that are thrown up on the other.  A whole set of real problems leap out of this observation which I intend to return to at a future date.

This is the context in which I think it is essential that the small groups of theory nerds that will always exist engage constantly in whatever struggles and mass movements emerge.  This is their only hope of learning what the actual issues that motivate the mass of the population are and how to formulate their 'revolutionary ideas' in a way that has some slight hope of gaining an echo.  This is not a question of formulating 'revolutionary' or 'transitional' demands but rather of asking what sort of demands could a mass movement come together around and what sort of context could this be built where the experience of the struggle would lead to revolutionary conclusions. It is not enough to collect for a strike and hand out leaflets demanding revolution. Rather a linkage must be built through struggle between the demands and that ultimate goal. That rather modest goal is what this text was drafted to address.

We are told that there is no choice but to cut wages and drive down the living conditions of the unemployed and others dependent on social welfare. This is a lie. Here are three simple ways that enough money could be raised to stop every proposed cut. 

Short term

  • A 90% tax on earnings over 100k would raise 2.1 billion
  • A cap on public sector wages at 100k would raise 450 million
  • A 5% wealth tax which excludes farming land would raise 8 billion

These three steps alone not only raise / save the 4 billion proposed in the budget they raise an additional 6.5 billion for a massive job creation program which could be based on filling the needs of people in Ireland for decent health, education, housing and communities

In the longer term there is the equivalent of 10 billion barrels of oil off the Irish coasts. This is almost been given away to Shell and other companies at the present. If the government took 70% of this, the rate Russia, Angola and Nigeria among other countries do, this would see 294 billion coming in as these fields are developed.


To force the adoption of the program above we need a huge fight with the government and employers. The more organized and united we are for the fight the less it will cost us and the quicker they will have to give in. This fight is the fight of workers, the unemployed and the community, it is not the fight of the union leadership. They may be with us at different stages or they may be against us so the fight has to be in our hands.

Building the resistance

If your in a union talk to people you work with who are not members about joining. Keep talking to them about this until they join.

Push for regular meetings in your workplace of all union members to discuss how to respond to each development in the crisis. Don't leave this to union reps.

If you are a union rep doesn't consult the members or is conservative have a recall meeting and elect someone else.

If you are not in a union start to talk to your fellow workers about organising. Talk to those you trust first and when enough agree met up and decide which union to approach. Keep meeting as a group, joining a union will help legally but you are the union so don't expect 'the union' to fight for you. A union is only as strong as its members and only retains that strength as long as you keep creating it.

Organised workers need to

  • organize networks within big workplaces that cross union boundaries and which even take in unorganized workers so when we go out we all go out together

  • organize rank and file networks within each union and across the unions so that organised workers can collectively provide an alternative leadership to the union heads

  • break down the divisions the media have been creating between private and public sector workers, between workers and the unemployed by building networks with community activists, unemployed activists, students and anyone willing to stand up and fight back

If you are not working this means you can play a part by organising in your community, or if unemployed organising a local unemployment action group or if a student organising a student resistance group. Everyone has a part in this fight.

What will victory look like?

We cannot answer this exactly. We can say the employers and government will not give in easily. They will be forced to give in by national strikes of all workers and widespread civil unrest. As we fight we will organize, if they hold out too long and as we gain confidence we may collectively decide we don't just want bread, we want the whole bakery.


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