Today, across Europe, the left is excited by the likelihood of Syriza topping the polls in the Greek election. Some on the left have gone so far as to suggest the election itself will mark the end of austerity policies, in the terminology of the Anglo left, an end to the idea that There Is No Alternative (TINA). Another indication that something of significance is happening is that ahead of the election a new wave of capital flight has started from Greece with an estimated 8 billion transferred out of the country over the last few weeks.
It’s a confusing time to be on the revolutionary left as everything that was once certain turns to smoke. Technology has overturned & remade what constitutes effective communication & the construction of networks. Quite how to organise is no longer clear and old reference points of 1917, 1936 or even 1968 no longer provide definitive models.
What if we build it and they don’t come? That was the experience of the left during the crisis - decades had been spent building organisations and a model of how crisis would create revolution but when the crisis arrived the left discovered that the masses weren’t convinced. The expected pattern of crisis leading to small strikes and protests, then to mass strikes and riot and then perhaps to general strike and revolution didn’t flow as expected. Under that theory the radical left would at first be marginal but then as conditions drove class militancy to new heights the workers disappointed by reformist politicians and unions leaders would move quickly to swell its ranks.
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.
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