Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Day of Rest

To summarize: The ultimate cause of the present crisis is not out-of-control borrowing, manipulative and dishonest lending, the US Federal Reserve, the bankers, the hedge funds, the housing bubble, the Euro, etc., though all were and still are contributing factors. The ultimate cause is the overdoing-it of the capitalist "free" market system in its efforts to maximize profits at the expense of workers by opening up a global labor market and thus instituting ruthless competition among workers from different regions of the world with very different modes of compensation. If that sounds confusing, I suggest reading it again, slowly.

Of course the problem is very different depending on which side of the economic divide one is viewing it from. From the viewpoint of the workers, the situation is not all that new, because they have always been squeezed by their bosses -- what is new is the degree to which they are being squeezed, which is rapidly becoming intolerable. When it reaches the breaking point, which it will very soon, then there will no longer be any incentive to work at all. Better to just chuck that hairnet and go back to the farm.

From the viewpoint of the capitalists, however, which is, of course, the only one we ever hear about, what's really important is that, thanks to their excesses in squeezing the last drop of blood from their employees in every corner of the world, they have themselves sown the seeds of their own destruction. Because workers are also consumers, and when consumers are squeezed dry, markets are squeezed dry, and when that happens, then out-of-control borrowing becomes the last resort. And when out-of-control borrowing is no longer possible, the whole system grinds to a halt.

Is it really that simple? I think so. But the capitalists, aided and abetted by the politicians and the media, are unwilling to admit, either to the world at large or even themselves, that the exploitation of workers is the cause of their own downfall, which is why we are hearing so much about borrowing, lending, banking, bubbles and Euros and literally nothing about the role of the working class and its plight. Unable to grasp the root cause of the crisis, the capitalists and their cronies are attempting to solve the problem by doing more of what they have always done: squeeze squeeze squeeze the working class, which presumably has no alternative but to blindly obey. This is true, by the way, not only for those demanding "austerity," but also those pleading for "growth." In either case, the burden will be on the backs of labor.

There is an alternative, however. Which takes us to where I left off in the previous post: "And what can they do to liberate themselves -- and us? Why, what they have always done . . ."

Were you able to fill in the blank? The answer is: organize. And really the best name for the specter currently haunting Europe is not simply "the workers of the world," as I so thoughtlessly stated, but more to the point: organized labor.

The only group that's remained passive throughout this whole fiasco is labor. Not surprising, since ever since the Reagan-Thatcher era, labor and unions have become dirty words, to the point we've arrived at today, where no one, even so-called progressives, wants to talk any more about the "working class." We have all now officially become "middle class." Well, congratulations, folks, you have moved up in the world. How does that make you feel?

Occupy Wall St. seems to have fizzled. The upcoming elections in the US don't hold much promise. I'll be voting for Obama and the rest of the Democratic ticket for sure, but only because the alternative is too scary to contemplate. I've heard talk about forming a new political party, an international party, which might, over time, develop some influence on the various national agendas, but that would take far too much time to develop, assuming it could work at all.

On the other hand, an effort to organize workers on an international scale might be far less difficult and far less time consuming than it might seem. In fact the time seems ripe for it. We are living in the age of the Internet, after all. I would venture to say that there is hardly any industrial worker anywhere in the world without an Internet connection, either of his/her own or that of a friend,. Similarly, I have a feeling that the English language is now sufficiently widespread that communications in this language could be almost universally understood. Anyone who doesn't understand English is almost sure to have a friend, or child, who does.

Where to begin? I think a general one-day work stoppage could be very effective, especially if it were international. Certainly a general "day of rest" honored by a significant portion of the European workforce might make a very effective start, a shot across the bow. I'd like to say we could include American workers, but the full brunt of the crisis is not yet being felt as acutely in the USA as it is elsewhere, so there might not be much of a response. And Chinese workers might be too easily intimidated to respond, I'm not sure.The one-day stoppage could then be followed by longer stoppages, with the ultimate threat of a complete shutdown by all workers everywhere.

In the past, it might take months or years to organize actions of this sort, but the Internet makes it possible to organize very quickly, within a week or so I would think, given an efficient organizational base. Who would do the organizing? Well, OWS may have fizzled, but the people behind it are still around. And judging from their success in organizing all those rather spectacular actions last year, I would think these folks would be ideal. Assuming they are motivated to take this sort of action. I wonder . . .

1 comment:

  1. And, oh boy, wouldn’t Dec 21 2012, the day of the Mayan Pole Shift be a great day to stage the world sit down strike?


Add to Technorati Favorites