During the past few months the world has been rocked by a financial crisis that has attracted a lot of comment.
While we get a kick out of the speculators’ and stockholders’ agony, we need to keep an eye on where the crisis is heading and on its impact in the real world.
What crisis? More importantly; who’s crisis? The workers at Renault Sandouville are affected, sure, the American workers who have lost their capitalized pensions, of course, the 40 000 extra unemployed, yes, in fact; all workers, because they will now be subjected to the blackmail of a so-called "recession". But what does the crisis mean to "our" political and economic leaders?
No one has seen Parisot in a breadline, nor Lagardère at the Welfare Office, and Bolloré has not been hanging out with the Salvation Army either. So far, Sarkozy has not sold his Raybans and Carla Bruni still has her Dior dresses. The bosses continue to eat very well and none of them are begging in the street.
Of course, their crocodile tears are flowing freely; it’s going to be tough, the economy is in bad shape, we must all tighten our belts. We have been hearing that kind of talk for a long time. The government is out of money; total panic, fire the civil servants, quick, privatise everything! Public pension funds are running low; work 41 years and pay part of your medical bills yourself! Unemployment; it’s your own fault, just flexibly take the first available job and say "Thank you very much." Companies not competitive enough; work longer and better.
We have already given plenty. So just how tight are the bosses’ belts? They have been doing quite well lately. Derogations from social contributions, 30 billion a year, golden handshakes and stock option plans. The 2 242 taxpayers who make more than 41 982 EUROs get 82.9% of the tax refunds. That come to 84 700 per millionaire. PMEs in trouble; 22 billion EURO aid package. We are too embarrassed to mention the salary hikes of the bosses of the top 40 enterprises because they are obscene.
The sad truth is that our sacrifices are their profits. And it goes on. The taxpayers’ money goes to the banks, leaving public budgets bankrupt; growth has disappeared and taken our jobs along, because there are just too many unemployed we need to cut benefits. This is going to hurt.
Parisot herself admits that the government’s "recommendations" do not really hurt the bosses. It is all about "moralizing capitalism" as Sarkozy likes to say. What other ethics can capitalism have except to let a few people get rich at everyone else’ expense? What problem does capitalism have with inequality and the concentration of wealth?
Capitalism is what makes us sacrifice while the bosses and governments fill their pockets. Capitalism lets homeless people die in street while others own several houses and apartments, sometimes paid for with tax money. Capitalism created the crisis that we are paying for today. Capitalism is what is putting health, education and welfare into the clutches of profit-oriented corporations who do not care in the least about our rights or even about our very lives. Capitalism plunders the natural resources of the Third World and exploits its people as cheap immigrant labour that is dumped when no longer needed. The pursuit of short term profits has been destroying this planet. Capitalism starts wars to cover up its little accidents.
No wonder the bosses praise capitalism as the only viable social system. It is they who keep on telling us to work more and better for less pay while their salaries and stock option plans go through the roof. They make the economic choices, so they alone are responsible when a company goes bust, sending the workers to the ANPE with a paltry severance package. This list could be continued into all infinity. It is time to stop waiting for our rulers to "moralize" or "regulate" capitalism. We need to launch a full frontal attack on the system.
We have decided to trample it wherever we find it growing. The place to start is the where we work, because capitalism lives off our exploitation. Fight for higher wages and lower profits, better conditions and shorter hours, and end to harassment and the chase after competiveness. Fight for a redistribution of wealth without waiting for some law that will never get passed anyway or for a government to come and save us. We need to transpose those on-the-job struggles into generalized social confrontations about pensions, health, education, welfare, public transportation and communication. So one and all can live their lives in dignity. This will not be won with so-called "days of action" that do nothing, half-day or one day strikes that bring only a loss of pay but do not keep our rights from disappearing one by one. The highly developed class conscience of our opponents and their combativeness means that short term, purely symbolic actions are useless. What we need is class conscious, fighting unions for a general strike that is extendable. All the victims of capitalism need to stand together regardless of origin, language, colour, and legal status so that they can win what is rightfully theirs and what they need.
In the face of repression, sanctions and threats we remain defiant. Hope for a more libertarian and egalitarian society keeps us going. Our struggle is the only thing that can hurt the bosses badly enough to make them give us our due. Our method is revolutionary, libertarian unionism that dares to attack the bosses and the state while building up the new society within the shell of the old.