Barbarism or socialism? The future of society rests on the working class


“We are now in a class war of a type not witnessed for generations. The capitalists are serious about preserving their wealth, privilege & entitlement.”

Helen O’Connor

By Helen O’Connor

As socialists we must recognise that everything has changed. We have entered a period of unprecedented instability-climate change, covid, war in Europe and now an escalating cost of living crisis that is due to plunge millions of workers into poverty and destitution.

Hard won rights like the 8 hour day, the right to be paid on time for hours worked, the right to sick pay, job security and even the right to food are being rolled back to Victorian times for too many working class people.

We are now in a class war of a type not witnessed for generations. The capitalists are serious about preserving their wealth, privilege and entitlement.  Maximising their profits is their main priority and they do not care if our class becomes more and more impoverished. So we must be serious too.

They will use every weapon at their disposal to keep us in our place. The Tories have already pushed through anti strike legislation allowing companies to undermine strikes with agency workers and even further repressive anti union laws are on the cards.

At the root of most disputes across the economy, including those over the standard of living is the issue of cuts and privatisation. The question of public ownership is the most fundamental our movement faces today.

The labour party is no longer fit for purpose, it claims re nationalisation of the utilities will be too expensive. But if they are unwilling or incapable of extending public ownership they are protecting the profiteers at our expense.

 We need ownership and democratic control over what we create including the utilities like gas and electricity or our public services, which are being sold off and destroyed for profit.

Our movement must focus on the workplaces because the willingness and ability of workers to link up with each other and fight back against the onslaught on their pay, terms and conditions will be a decisive factor in the battle to stop society slipping downwards into barbarism.

We cannot go on as we are with isolated groups of workers fighting on their own. Workers instinctively understand each others struggles and the reasons behind them. We must build a united front industrially and politically with clear relevant demands and a co- ordinated campaign to deliver them or the Tories will crush us. We might all be in different unions or in different political parties but we must be prepared to stick together, to work together and to fight together in the common interests of our class.

Despite appearances the capitalist class have never been weaker -they prevail because we have not utilised the full strength of our movement in a united, coordinated fashion. If we are to defeat them that is what we must do.

If Labour politicians are not prepared to stand on our picket lines, we should withdraw all support from them. Those who are not committed to our struggle cannot represent us.

It is important that the priorities of workers like hospital cleaners and others in struggle become central both industrially and politically. We cannot and should not, rely on anyone but ourselves to defend our class. For too long the voices of workers have been ignored. Social media liberals have been given too much space in our movement to set the agenda and lecture us on what our priorities should be. Too often these priorities have little to do with the day to day lives of working class people and in particular the focus on identity politics above class politics is dividing and weakening our movement

 Research has shown that women and children are more vulnerable to exploitation including sexual exploitation when economies are unstable and  societies are unequal. Working class women and our children are the at the forefront of the onslaught of this cost of living crisis and we are the ones who are most reliant on the public services they are cutting and destroying.

The treatment of women in our movement must improve if we are to build effective class unity. There will be no working-class unity without working class women. Trade unions need women and women need trade unions. Women are right to demand that our unions hear our views because we have as much a stake in society as men. Women are also right to demand our leading trade union brothers stand with women and stand up for women.

As socialists and trade unionists it’s important to tell people the truth about exploitation and the methods used to do so. Our movement should be opposed to all forms of exploitation, or it is nothing. Removing barriers to women being fully involved is a priority if we are to build the strategists, leaders and fighters in the class war now underway.

Nothing ever trumps class because this is the one thing that unites the majority of us who have to sell our labour to live. The working class must unite to make not only the industrial demands but political demands too because this is not just a battle for decent wages, terms and conditions this is a struggle for the type of society we want to live in. We can start by being clear that we are for the socialist transformation of society in the interests of our class.

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