Austerity Kills - the clear message sent out by the 'Spectacle of Defiance & Hope' display in front of last Saturday's Dublin Council of Trade Unions march against another austerity budget. The march itself was poorly attended, under 1000 people, and there was some really silly 'get our flags/ banners upfront' stuff going on from a few group both during the march and the speeches at the end.
I heard the historian Peter Linebaugh speak at the Struggles in Common discussions in Dublin yesterday and it triggered some thoughts on one of the key talking points of austerity, the need to make sure everyone works harder. Its a point you hear again and again on talk radio and which is made in internet debates whenever talk of cutting public services comes up. Even those working in public services often feel the need to agree that there is too much 'dead wood'. Yet at the same time increased automation means that there is less need for labour that there used to be. What is happening here?
Five years into an austerity program that is only working to make the rich richer, most of us are very unhappy about the lack of resistance from the unions. During the Croke Park campaign the SIPTU National Executive Council released a statement that included: "There is, of course, a wider issue of fairness in the Country as a whole because the wealthy are not contributing to the degree that they can or should. This is a consequence of the political choices made by the voters at election time.”
It is no great surprise that the SIPTU NEC have recommended acceptance of Croke Park II. But in their statement they admit far more than the should have and point not only to why it should be rejected but also what is needed to win. That is the willingness to threaten effective industrial action aimed at bringing down the government if they attempt to impose Croke Park II after we vote no.
The government says if we Vote no to Croke Park they will impose it anyway. Many of the union leadership try and scare us into voting Yes with this threat and by saying the only alternative is strike action. Both are right. If we just vote no than the government will attack us. And when they do the only way we can win is if we are willing to fight back - that will mean industrial action. It will almost certainly mean at least the credible threat of an indefinite strike.
300,000 public service workers may shortly be forced to strike, something that may very well transform the potential for radical politics in Ireland. The purpose of this Open Letter is to provide information for activists who are not working in Public Services in order to explain the importance of the No vote to Croke Park. It is important in terms of the general struggle against austerity and we want to suggest some ways you can help make sure this fight is won, in particular by coming to a discussion of just that on Wednesday 8th May at 7.30 in the Teachers Club. (RSVP on Facebook)
Roughly 1,000 people protested at the Dail last night as yet another austerity budget was debated. As with previous budgets the new flat rate taxes, PRSI & excise hikes will mean workers & those on low income will be hit hard while the richest 1% will hardly notice any difference.
Saturday saw a major anti-austerity march through Dublin organised by Dublin Council of Trade Unions and the Campaign against the Household and Water Taxes. The turnout was far larger than I expected, perhaps as many as 15,000 marched on a fairly miserable late Novemeber day. I've a selection of some of the photos I took here, as usual there are much more in the WSM Facebook album for the event.
The text which follows is the '10 year goals' I proposed to the Workers Solidarity Movement in 2008 and which were adopted by WSM national conference. They were opposed by a minority at the time and some of the controversy around them returned with the publication of ex WSM member James O'Briens 'The WSM and anarchism: A political analysis' earlier in the year. In the meantime however that section of the perspectives paper has been overwritten with new material (I think in 2011)
which meant the original text was no longer available on the internet except through the way back archive.*
The Greek election which saw the 'bailout with even more austerity' parties win out over the 'austerity without bailout' parties had a fairly minimal impact on the world's stock markets in the end. That somewhat cruel way of describing SYRIZA is a polemical poke at the international left which had put such enormous expectations in SYRIZA ahead of the elections - many seemed to truly believe their election represented a potential turning point in the struggle against the imposition of austerity across Europe. From my point of view this attitude is symptomatic of the disastrous turn to electoralism that the far left has taken - the hostile terrain it has retreated to after failing to build any meaningful popular resistance across Europe to the cuts being imposed in the worst crisis since World War II.