BLACK Friday came to the UK yesterday with scenes of chaos and mayhem in supermarkets up and down the country, scenes that came close to rioting on occasions, as police and security guards battled with thousands of people desperately seeking the bargains promised.
In Greater Manchester, police had to rush to seven Tesco stores, with a similar picture repeated in Dundee, Glasgow, Cardiff and London.
With some of these stores opening at midnight, fighting broke out, arrests were made and the situation in some areas ran quickly out of control as prices were cut on average by 40%, with Tesco promising cuts of up to 70% on some items.
Black Friday has been imported from the US by British retailers in a desperate attempt to put profit back into their failing businesses, with stores from the downmarket end of the retailing spectrum right through to the more up-market John Lewis and M&S joining in.
Their desperation to kick off a pre-Christmas spending spree is not hard to fathom.
Tesco, the country’s biggest retailer, recently revealed a staggering 92% fall in its profits, while every other high street retailer and supermarket also recorded huge losses, with the likes of Sainsbury’s losing £290 million in the first six months of the year.
These once-mighty multi-billion-pound businesses have gone in the space of a few years to the point of bankruptcy – driven in desperation to stunts like Black Friday.
Driving this collapse is the huge deflationary crisis gripping the capitalist world; wages have been cut so much, 10% in real terms, that workers simply cannot afford to spend money on anything but housing and food.
For low-paid workers and those on zero-hours contracts or part-time work even these essentials are now beyond them. Under these conditions, it is scarcely surprising that people are desperate for anything that promises price cuts.
Bourgeois commentators on the near riots in Tesco and other stores sneered about ‘unbridled consumerism’ and lamented that this supposedly ‘American disease’ has infected the traditionally phlegmatic British worker. After all, they point out, Britain is no stranger to sales like that traditionally on Boxing Day, where people politely queue and the worst that can happen is a bit of jostling.
What they are incapable of understanding is the spreading desperation within the working class, a desperation that expressed itself on Friday in a limited way. Waiting in the wings is a much more serious explosion of anger.
Millions of families will be forced to rely on the charity of food banks this Christmas, while child poverty in 21st century Britain has reached grotesque proportions.
According to the Child Poverty Action Group 3.5 million kids (27% or more than 1 in 4) live in poverty while in some deprived areas this goes up to 70%! Two-thirds of these live in families where at least one member works.
With both the Tories and Labour promising permanent austerity with even greater cuts to welfare and wages in order to bail out bankrupt British capitalism, the very near future holds out the prospect of real food riots taking place across the country as workers refuse to accept starvation as the only future for themselves and their families.
On top of this volcano of hatred for the public school-educated Tories – who believe they have a divine right to rule over the plebs as representatives of the ruling class – sits the leadership of the trade unions, desperately trying to keep a lid on the explosion of class hatred boiling up.
The way forward is to remove these labour traitors and replace them with a leadership trained in Marxism that can lead this spontaneous movement into a struggle to bring down the government through a general strike and go forward to a workers government and a socialist system that will consign bankrupt capitalism to the pages of history.
This means building the WRP.