Today celebrates the day that the ‘anti-capitalist terrorist’ Osama Bin Laden was captured and killed, seemingly twisting & annihilating the anniversary of anti-capitalism itself.
International Workers’ Day is the commemoration of a massacre at a rally for improved working conditions in Chicago in 1886. A dynamite bomb was thrown at Police as they tried to disperse this rally, prompting the Police to fire on the crowds.
With the advent of industrial technology and the increasing ease at which some Capitalists employed it, as illustrated by the start of advertising campaigns for products such as Coca-Cola, working conditions were still harsh with high rates of injury and death. It was quite common to work up to 16 hour days in unsafe conditions. The working class were in a constant struggle to gain an 8 hour work day with safer working conditions – without a cut in pay.
This movement was not supported by the employers.
125 years ago, the ideology of Socialism with a working class control over the distribution of all goods and services, was regaining momentum. The working class felt that Capitalism only benefited only their employers, who would attempt to make profit at any cost and keep it for themselves – even if it meant sacrificing the life of their own employees.
The following footage was recorded at a recent International Workers Day rally. What ideas did the speakers have and how relevant are they in today’s world?
Mohinder Farma represented the group – Unity for Peace and Socialism. Mohinder suggested that since local people pay taxes and provide funding then these should be the ones to decide which local public services are needed. This places some hope and trust that local users would be able to guarantee an impartial review, being able to balance the production and distribution of resources as demand requires rather than for profit. Services would be managed by people from different levels of society, hopefully preventing the concentration of resources as occurs with Capitalism. Complementing this statement, Mohinder went on to reject all proposed cuts, suggesting that money could be redistributed from bankers bonuses and wages to fund public services.
This Socialist method of management could work, if only people could be convinced that it is better to share rather than horde resources. Some theorists suggest that Capitalism always leads to such a polarisation of resources that the poor eventually form the majority. When this occurs, the poor majority revolt (with strikes for example) against the rich minority to force a redistribution of resources, as illustrated following the industrial revolution and the establishment of International Workers Day.
Once resources are redistributed and everyone in society is again presented with equal opportunities, Capitalism always eventually seems to become the dominant market force. Are people just trying to protect themselves against some future economic famine, generating a self-perpetuating cycle? How can the cycle be broken?
Dave Bean represented the Public and Commercial Services Union. Dave suggested that the cuts are a choice, not a necessity and that money could be found to fund public services and reduce the deficit. He proposed that this could be achieved through creating jobs by investing in projects such as renewable energy and public transport, or by ensuring that £120 billion of tax is collected rather than evaded.
Is it more logical to depend on (renewable) energy sourced from this country, rather than to depend on oil that is stolen from other countries? It seems like a waste of money to keep pouring resources into a military black hole just to supress a native population in a foreign country and ensure the supply of fuel to the UK. But deaths aside, wars also generate jobs.
Unfortunately the native population of the countries from which the oil is stolen from always seems to be forgotten. The native population of oil producing countries has, until recently been supressed by 30 year old regimes – but this is no longer a guarantee. It appears that these people have decided that they no longer want to live in poverty and would like to keep the oil for themselves. How could we possibly complain? It would seem rather hypocritical!
Investing in renewable energy and public transport would replace the ‘oil-war’ economy that we have become so dependent on. As Dave suggested, this would even mean there would be no demand for the renewal of Trident. An internal energy economy would result in a more stable economy and maybe even reduce terrorism?
Dave went onto reveal that at the end of June, at least 750,000 union members will be striking for ‘The Alternative’ (solution to cuts) – which is explained in this article on this website. He also went onto say that other trade unions were expected to join in another strike later in the summer, bringing the number up to 2,000,000 people.
This would definitely suggest the poor are becoming the majority. Now where’s that economic reset button gone?
Emma Friedmann represented Justice for Special Needs. Emma has epilepsy and took an anti-convulsent medication while pregnant to manage her condition & to promote a successful pregnancy. Her neurologist ensured her that the medication would not affect her unborn child, but this wasn’t true and her son is disabled as a result. Two in five children born to mothers who took the same medication are also disabled. Her son will need constant care for the rest of his life at an expected cost of £10 million to the taxpayer.
Emma is currently involved in a test case with 99 other families in the same situation. They hope to hold the pharmaceutical company to account for the damage the drug caused to their children, and to seek financial compensation to help pay for the care their children need rather than sourcing it from the taxpayer.
As Emma and the other families are occupied with caring for their children, they were receiving legal aid to help them bring their case to court. Unfortunately this aid has been withdrawn – even though the test case was due to go to trial this Friday (6th May). The cost of providing legal aid has been deemed too expensive.
As Emma points out herself – wouldn’t it make more financial sense to provide the £750,000 to take the case through court, rather than expecting the tax payer to pay out £1 billion just for the 100 children that are involved in the test case? This definitely appears to be a case of false economy.
Maybe the government doesn’t want to take the case to trial because it would be damaging to the pharmaceutical company? Maybe the government are afraid of losing taxes from the pharmaceutical company if the case goes to trial?
This is also a case of false economy. If the pharmaceutical company has caused damage with this product, how many other products in their portfolio are also dangerous? How many other people are being harmed and disabled by their other medications? What is the total cost to the taxpayer? Wouldn’t it be better to take the case to trial to encourage a thorough examination of the company just to be sure?
It’s a sad world to live in when the question of justice is decided by how much money sits in someone’s pocket.
You can contact Emma on Twitter (@emmafriedmann) to pass on your support for her cause.
Paul Davies represented the group Service User Group Against Reductions (SUGAR). Paul didn’t so much present problems and offer solutions, but rather passed commentary on various issues. These included the removal of homeless people around Westminster in London in preparation for the Royal Wedding last week, Sikh people being subject to turban searches at airports and his confusion with the proposed Alternative Voting system.
He commented that although the AV system was confusing, he was more confused about how a political party that came 3rd in the elections got into power. Paul then called on various activist groups to join together to bring the ConDem government down.
I’d advise him to watch this video for a clear explanation of the AV system.
David Landau represented the group No One Is Illegal.
David reported that in a recent speech Cameron said ‘The real issue is migrants who are filling the gap in the labour market left wide open by the welfare system that for years has paid people not to work. So immigration and welfare reform are two sides of the same coin. We will never control immigration if we don’t control welfare dependency.’
David responded to this statement by suggesting ‘that if we had decent wages for these jobs, we wouldn’t have the immigration control. As we are an international class, we must overcome internationalism and racism that goes beyond borders. To do this we must overcome the borders within our own movement. No more talk of British jobs for British workers, but jobs for all and security of employment. There is plenty of work to be done. It is capitalism which denies jobs because the work is currently deemed unprofitable. It is this system which is our enemy. Not foreign workers. Together as an international class we can sweep this system away. No one is illegal’.
Is Capitalism really our enemy? As previously mentioned it is certainly responsible for the polarisation of resources – and how could that be a good thing? Does it encourage social mobility? Mobility to where exactly, and is there really an unlimited pot of resources to keep people mobile?
As I was told when I was younger – ‘If you can’t play nicely, then you’ll have your toys taken off you.’
We’d better learn how to play nicely pretty quickly then – or else the strikes will grow and grown till there isn’t anyone left working……..
Listed below are the other speeches that took place as a part of the rally –
Tony Church – Leicestershire Against Cuts
Paul Henderson – Trade Union Congress
Becci Henderson – Youth Fight For Jobs