Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Workers need Solidarity not Saviours

The persistence of reformism and outright conservatism among workers has long confounded members of the Socialist Party. The capitalist system’s drive to maximise profits should force workers to struggle against their employers, progressively broaden their struggle and eventually overthrow the system and replace it. We often assert that capitalism creates it own “gravediggers” – workers with no interest in the maintenance of private ownership of the means of production. The reality of politics appear to challenge this. The majority of the working class remain tied to reformist pro-capitalist political parties premised on the possibility of acquiring improvements in the condition of workers without the overthrow of capitalism. We have also seen a rise in reactionary ideas – racism, sexism, homophobia, nationalism, militarism. How do we explain the fact that most workers, most of the time, do not act on their potential power? Why do workers embrace reformist politics or worse, reactionary politics.

The working class cannot be permanently active in the class struggle. The entire working class cannot consistently engage in strikes, protests and other forms of political activity because it is members are compelled to sell their labour power to capital in order to survive. They have to go to work. Put simply, most workers, most of the time are engaged in the individual struggle to sell their capacity to work and secure the reproduction of themselves and their families – not the collective struggle against the employers and the State. the majority of workers come to accept the “rules of the game” of capitalist competition and profitability. They seek a “fair share” of the products of capitalist accumulation, but do not feel capable of challenging capitalist power in the workplace, the streets or society. For most workers mass, militant struggle seems unrealistic; they tend to embrace liberal and reformist electoral politics, institutionalised collective bargaining and grievance handling. As competing sellers of labour power, workers are open to the appeal of politics that pit them against other workers. The stronger sections of the working class defend their status against weaker, less-organised sections. They can take advantage of their privileged positions as Americans over and against foreigners, as whites over and against blacks, as men over and against women, as employed over and against unemployed, etc. These ideas are, of course, the ideas of the right-wing. Such strategies are counter-productive. Divisions among workers offers the capitalist class the ability to undermine the ability of workers to defend or improve their conditions of life under capitalism. The continued hold of reformism over the majority of workers requires that politicians “deliver the goods.” However, when reformism proves incapable of realistically defending workers’ interests workers embrace individualist and sectional perspectives.

This paradox poses a crucial challenge for the Socialist Party's campaign for socialism. Today, the main audience for the idea that workers need to stand up to right-wing ideas and practices are the small number of militant activists who are trying to promote solidarity, and democracy in the labour movement. Workers must begin to think of themselves as a class with interests in common with other workers and opposed to the capitalists and anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-militarist, anti-nationalist – ways of thinking. Struggles in working-class communities are not to be limited to work-places but also around housing, social welfare, transport and other issues; and political struggles against racism and war, crucial elements in the political self-transformation of the working class. Without the experience of such struggles, workers will continue to passively accept reformist politics

A better future will not come about automatically or simply because many people wish it. Socialism will only come about if we are able to draw enough people into the struggle to create it. But success is not guaranteed. Those who are serious about socialism must be serious about achieving it. The Socialist Party hopes that we can build up a human society. Our aim is to gain equality in society. The present political situation, including the existing relationship of class forces in society, is not likely to endure for long. Vast political changes are in store. The capitalist system has adversely affected the living standard of the working class around the world. The latest technology in commodity production and distribution has created financial and political crises. As capitalism's exploitation intensifies, and drives lower wages and weaken the unions, the conditions are ripening for a revival of the class war.

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