What should the working class demand in the face of this economic crisis?

Download a .PDF image of the published A4 leaflet here… Cutbacks.pdf (includes additional items)

The original publication included the words of Be Moderate’/’We only want the Earth by James Connolly, they are available here.

First thing is to demand a solution which serves the people’s interests, and then, those with responsibility must be called to account for what they have done.

A worldwide crisis

The world and not just Ireland is in deep crisis, but what is the nature of this crisis? Some say it is the “bad policies” or the “mismanagement” of Fianna Fáil or the greed of our banking sector and property developers that are to blame. Undoubtedly these have taken what must be criminal profits in past years, and still are, despite the devastation facing ordinary people. Others say that as a people we outstretched our own credit limits and must now pay the price for this – you can’t live beyond your means etc.

We don’t think that these approaches to understanding the crisis and finding a solution hold up.

We can’t say that Fianna Fáil/Greens brought down Wall Street or caused the worldwide financial crisis, neither did ‘our’ rogue bankers or developers do it. Equally, we can’t say that if any of the other main parties were in power things would be different – they wouldn’t.

The crisis has come to us from abroad, and, because we are a “dependant” economy, it has caused havoc. ‘Our own’ bankers and developers have been caught with their hands in the till, and lots of cash is gone missing!

Let’s consider the general factors causing the current crisis; understanding them is essential to working out the solution.

The causes of the crisis

(1) the unstoppable demand of finance capital for super-profits and their subversion of the world’s economy to their interests. The worlds financial monopolies engaged in speculation with financial instruments, mortgages, issuing unrestricted credit etc. i.e. That is, in general, activity that has not produced a single thing but generated huge profits for them. These banks and finance houses have always acted as if our society and economy was shaped and organised specially for their benefit – and of course they are right in this regard.

(2) the surrender of national governments, of both the imperial powers and of the dependant and neo-colonial states to the dictate of capital. Over the past decades regulation of the finance sector has been continuously relaxed and virtually eliminated – banks have reaped super-profits from deregulation and in return they have lined the pockets of the political forces that allowed it. The International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank etc. have been allowed to dictate economic policy in individual states; ensuring that they are geared for the extraction of maximum return by the ‘free market’, meaning monopoly corporations backed by finance capital.

(3) the growth in ‘globalisation’, which has occurred independently of the financial crisis, and the movement of capital and corporations to the source of the lowest labour costs and greatest tax and other incentives. We have seen profitable companies forcing down wages simply on the basis that the costs are lower elsewhere. Dell’s recent move to Poland saw them receive a further €55 million grant with EU approval, paying lower wages to Polish workers, even though they were making profits here.

A small look into history is necessary

The common theme running through the causes of this crisis is that monopoly rules, in particular monopoly banking. They tell us we have a ‘free’ market economy – but it isn’t free at all – nor could it be. Since the emergence of capitalism as the dominant mode of production (some hundreds of years ago), competition has naturally led to the control of market segments and whole industries by monopolies – eliminating ‘free’ trade. This gave rise to finance capital as a requirement of industrial development and it in turn has developed into monopoly – with very few financial institutions controlling the entire world economy.

History has determined that this is how our society has developed; and it has left us with a major problem. That is, while workers collectively produce all the material things that we need for our existence, ownership of this process is private. The owners of capital take the profits and also decide what is produced, when, to what quality, at what price etc. This system decides when huge sections of our society (people!) are unwanted, creating unemployment, exported or drawn back as capitalist demand requires. This drive for profit even makes peoples health a commodity to buy and sell; everything is subordinated to the need for generating profits – while capitalism exists there is no escape from this.

History needs to move on …

The means of production must be taken out of private hands and put into social ownership. This will end all the speculation and allow production in our economy, for the first time, to be organised on the basis of meeting the needs of the society, as opposed to what will make the highest profit for a tiny minority.
Anything else is to allow the continuation of a barbaric social order that has the world in turmoil, millions starving, recurring wars, uncertainty, poverty etc.

There is a need to take both a short-term and a long-term view on this question, to respond to both the immediate needs of people and to seek a long-term solution once and for all.

In the immediate / short term:

  • Workers and their representatives should demand that there be NO cutbacks at all, not one cent! Workers are the ones who produce the wealth in our country; there is obviously plenty of cash to pay the rich and powerful.
  • There must be NO home re-possessions – appoint a committee, with worker representation, to cancel all the ‘troubled’ domestic mortgages without compensation for the banks, that will boost the economy and be just partial payback for what they have stolen!
  • Create an emergency law to imprison ‘our’ rogue bankers, developers and politicians.
  • Change the licensing terms with Shell & co., revert to the 50% share for the state bringing in hundreds of millions annually – and move their processing to sea, like the people want. Corrib gas is estimated to be worth over €400 billion in total – all problems solved!
  • Reject any ‘divide and rule’ – setting one section of workers against another.
  • Provide proper public health services – invest!
  • Let’s not ‘be moderate’, demand change now!

In the longer term:

  • We need to re-examine the legitimacy of both the national debt and the wealth of ‘our’ multi-millionaires.
  • Working people need to be organised politically so as to guarantee the longer term solution of taking ownership of the means of production into our own hands.
  • We need an economic plan that puts the needs of the Irish people at centre stage, and that allows us move away from foreign dependence.
  • We need an economic plan that exploits our native resources, in natural minerals, agriculture and fishing and ensure full processing of product in these sectors before any export.
  • We need an economy fuelled by sustainable resources, emphasising quality organic food production.
  • We need to utilise international goodwill towards ‘the Irish’, to assist the re-building of our economy, including linking with former emigrant generations.

This economy will require the participation of all able bodied people, empowering both community and individual, giving back the dignity of contributing through work.

We must leave behind the old ways of looking at economy and society, leave behind the acceptance of foreign dependence and leave behind the dictate of a self-interested, non-productive ruling class.

thefuture Initiative urges everyone to support the protests against the cutbacks.