Friday, 4 March 2011

We won't pay for their crisis

We are living in exciting times. The last few months have seen an explosion in resistance to governments in Europe, the US, North Africa, the Middle East and around the world. Much of this is driven by the economic crisis that erupted in 2008 and whose effects continue to ripple out around the world like a large stone thrown into a millpond. It began as a 'credit crunch', opening out into a global financial crisis, leading on to mind-numbingly large trillion dollar/pound/euro bank bailouts and is now entering the phase of 'austerity', cuts, job losses and privatisations, not least in Britain. The truth, of course, is far worse.

This is a crisis of capitalism itself. As Marx noted, there is a tendency for the rate of profit to fall and while it may fluctuate the tendency has always been down. The late Chris Harman did a lot of practical work on this in recent years and wrote a brilliant article in the ISJ a few years back in which he said that capitalism has,

"not been able to return to the “golden age” and it will not be able to do so in
future. It may not be in permanent crisis, but it is in a phase of repeated
crises from which it cannot escape, and these will necessarily be political and
social as well as economic."

But we need to be clear about this, the cuts coming from the ConDem Coalition are ideological; it is nothing less than a class attack on the people of this country. The cuts are unwaranted and unnecessary.

The PCS, the union for civil servants and other public sector workers, estimate that the amount of tax uncollected due to evasion (fraud) and avoidance (exploiting loopholes) amounts to £120 billion, more than three-quarters of the annual deficit. This is backed up by leaked Treasury documents. Yet the last government sacked staff in HM Revenue & Customs, the department that deals with uncollected tax and there is no sign of this government restoring those jobs. So it wouldn't take much of a hike in tax on the richest people in society or a rise in Corportion Tax to solve the whole deficit without a single cut or a single job lost. Labour are not against all the cuts either, just the level and the speed of cuts but I think our position is clear. No to ALL the cuts and ALL job losses; we won't pay for their crisis.

People aren't stupid, they don't really believe we are 'all in it together'. With recent bank bonuses totalling £6 billion and the government unwilling or unable to do anything about it, the resistance is beginning. The students showed the way with their inspiring demonstrations at the end of last year. This is now feeding into anti-cuts demonstrations, protests outside the outlets of shops that avoid paying tax, the possibility of co-ordinated strike action and the national TUC demo in London on March 26th. Who knows where it could all end. The people of North Africa and the Middle East have shown us what can be achieved if the people's anger towards their government is harnessed. We need to learn from their example and turn Trafalgar Square into Tahrir Square.

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