“ONE SOLUTION – REVOLUTION!”: this has become the rallying cry of radicalised youth across Britain, reflecting the profound change that has taken place over the last few years, but especially since the Scottish independence referendum. There is a developing mood of anger, bitterness and disenchantment – a desire to overthrow this rotten system and fundamentally transform society.
“ONE SOLUTION – REVOLUTION!”: this has become the rallying cry of radicalised youth across Britain. This reflects the profound change that has taken place over the last few years, but especially since the Scottish independence referendum.
There is a developing mood of anger, bitterness and disenchantment with life in the second decade of the 21st century. We witnessed the political earthquake in Scotland during the general election, when Labour was wiped out, then the social revolution in Ireland with the stunning victory of the referendum on same sex marriage, followed by the huge radicalisation in Spain in recent elections with the defeat of the right wing and the victory of popular unity lists in Barcelona, Madrid and other key cities.
The molecular process of revolution
In describing this, one could use Trotsky’s expression about the “molecular processes” of revolution taking place in the minds of people. The outlook of people, especially the youth, is quickly catching up with the effects of the crisis.
Ideas always tend to lag behind the situation. In fact, consciousness is very conservative in general. But after a period of time, when people digest what is happening, consciousness can catch up with a bang. That is what we are seeing now.
The deep crisis of capitalism, which began in 2008, is turning things upside down. Living standards for most people have been tumbling. Just to make ends meet, the number of Londoners holding down two jobs has soared by more than 50 per cent over the past ten years.
Agency work and part-time, insecure contracts have driven down wages. “Beforehand you had families on benefits, and families in work, and there was a real divide there. That’s gone now,” says Heather Brent, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau’s director. “You’ve got working families who are in as much poverty as people on very low benefits.” The CAB office in Liverpool’s Wavertree district has sent 667 people to free food banks in the last year, of which 319 were in some sort of work.
Young people are being hammered. Jimmy Nolan has a zero-hours job, which pays the minimum wage of £6.50 an hour. Every night at 6pm he waits for a text message to find out if he will be called to work in the factory the next day. “You’re on tenterhooks the whole time and you can’t plan anything,” he says. Once when he arrived at work at 7am he was sent to sit in the canteen, then told there was no work for him and he should go home. “It cost me £11.40 to get home that day.”
Rotten to the core
At the same time, the bankers pay themselves huge bonuses while they make thousands redundant at the drop of a hat. Now MPs pay is set to increase by 10 per cent to £74,000, an almost £8,000 rise, as they embark on slashing £12bn from welfare benefits, affecting the poorest and most vulnerable people. No wonder there is anger and disgust towards politicians. These pay rises come at a time of deepening austerity and pay cuts in the public sector.
Scandalously, Labour MP Stephen Pound said the pay increase was completely justified. “If I was a member of the RMT union I would be calling for an even bigger increase”, he said, oblivious to the public outrage. In fact, the RMT have only been offered around 1 per cent, with strings. In May 2009 it was discovered Pound had claimed a mileage allowance of £4,251, equating to 11,004 miles of travel between his constituency and Parliament 11 miles away.
You would expect this rise to be justified by Tories; but coming from a right-wing Labour MP simply reflects the careerism that is rife within the Labour Party, especially at the top. Rather than bloated salaries, they should all live on the same pay as ordinary workers.
It simply underlines the fact that the whole capitalist establishment, including the politicians, is rotten.
Plunged back into Victorian times
Now the Tory government is busy sharpening the axe. It plans to continue a vicious austerity, far deeper than the last five years. The Institute for Fiscal Studies suggest that the Tories will cut £37bn in next few years. Local government authorities are warning that, with such cuts, it will not be able to cover its statutory requirements. Osborne is intending to enshrine the need for a “budget surplus”, namely permanent austerity, into law! This will apparently be overseen by a body called the Committee of the Commissioners for the Reduction of National Debt, which last met in 1860 and was established by William Pitt the Younger.
The Tories want to take us back to Victorian times. But this brutal austerity is going to lead to a hurricane of opposition, far bigger than ever before. The likelihood of riots and social unrest, as in 2011, can never be far off.
While the Tories are seeking to quickly put the knife into the working class, divisions are already opening up in their ranks over Europe. This has already forced Cameron into an embarrassing U-turn as backbenchers threatened to “blow the lid” off the party.
Separately, the anti-austerity stance of the SNP in Scotland has seen the party’s popularity soar to new heights, with 60 per cent intending to vote SNP in next year’s Scottish parliamentary elections, according to the latest TNS poll.
The system is broken
At the same time, apart from Jeremy Corbyn, the main contenders for Labour Party leader are all Blairites, talking about the need for greater “fiscal responsibility”, i.e., more austerity. We hope that Corbyn does get onto the ballot paper, but that will depend on the pressure from the trade union leaders, especially UNITE.
It is about time the trade unions get off their knees and organised a fightback. The youth of Britain, without waiting, have shown the way.
However, the campaign against the Tory austerity must be linked to a campaign against capitalism. The austerity is not ideological, as some say, but arises from the crisis of capitalism, which can no longer afford reforms. In fact, the capitalist system demands counter-reforms!
All attempts to patch up capitalism will fail. The system itself is broken. What is needed is a root and branch solution that will put an end to capitalism once and for all. Only by taking over the banks, insurance companies and the major monopolies that dominate the economy can we have the power to solve our problems.
A socialist planned economy, using the resources of society, will allow us to eradicate unemployment, poverty wages and homelessness. Democratic planning, involving working people, means that resources will be used for the benefit of all and not the profits of a privileged few.
This is no utopian dream. It is the only realistic option on offer. You cannot plan what you do not control, and you do not control what you do not own.
Capitalism has outlived itself. It has become a massive barrier to society. It is time that it was put in the dustbin of history, alongside slavery and feudalism. “One Solution – Revolution!” must be translated into practice.