AT SATURDAY’S march to defend the Welfare State, workers from across the country were clear that action will have to be taken to defend jobs and stop savage cuts destroying the NHS, state education and the social security system.
However, the present leaders in the trade unions don’t want this struggle. They prefer to cuddle up to the government and the state to try to prove that they can control the working class on behalf of the ruling class.
Their actions are the polar opposite to what the working class, the youth and professional workers such as the BMA doctors want.
The capitalist ruling class senses this growing revolutionary mood, and instinctively knows that its rule will be challenged by the working class leading the majority of the middle class after the May 6 general election.
A shiver of fear is running through its ranks. Some say that only a government with a clear majority, whether it is Labour or Tory, is necessary to impose the savage cuts that are required to keep capitalism going.
Others, like the ex-Labour renegade Lord Owen, are saying that the crisis is much worse than the government will admit, and that a government with a majority of seats, but elected by only 35 per cent of the electorate, will never be able to carry out the savage cuts programme – it will ignite a Greek-style revolution instead.
They argue that a hung parliament is not such a bad thing provided all three parties combine rapidly into a national government that can say ‘we represent the majority of the people’ as they seek to impose wage and job cuts, higher taxation and mass sackings in the public sector onto the working class.
What the ruling class is worried about is a national debt of over £850 billion and rising, the result of bailing out the banks in 2008-09 and of fighting disastrous imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
To pay back this debt, keep the pound afloat and allow capitalism to stagger on, the ruling class needs to smash the Welfare State and drive back the working class through a civil war, a hundred times more explosive than the 1984-85 miners’ strike.
The Welfare State has become a life and death question for both classes: the banking (capitalist) class ‘cannot afford’ it and the working class and youth cannot do without it.
A glimpse into the way the ruling class is thinking about the Welfare State came in the Tory ‘Sunday Telegraph’ yesterday, from columnist Bruce Anderson. He wrote: ‘Since 1945, we have spent vast sums on promoting social demoralisation. Think of the contrast with Tom, the crossing sweeper in Bleak House. His kind knew nothing about public expenditure and were wise to keep well clear of it. If it did manifest itself in their lives, it would do so as a hard bed in a workhouse dormitory, no second helping of gruel, regular helpings of the beadle’s birch – leading perhaps to a one-way ticket to Australia, or to the hangman’s rope.’
This is the brave new world that the capitalists and the bankers dream of restoring.
As far as the bankers are concerned, what is required is a stop-at-nothing class-war government.
What the working class requires is a revolutionary leadership. It is the strongest and most powerful class in society. It however needs a revolutionary leadership that is trained both theoretically and practically to use that strength to put an end to the bourgeois order through a socialist revolution, that will continue the work of October 1917.
A general strike was the call being made on Saturday by many workers. We agree with this call. There must be a general strike to oppose the plans of the capitalists and their parliamentary servants.
However, a massive general strike in 1926 was sold out by the TUC after nine days. This same TUC leadership stood on one side in 1984-85 and watched the Tories and the bosses use the entire state machine against the miners and their families.
The major issue today is the resolving of the crisis of working class leadership. A general strike needs a revolutionary leadership, that understands the lessons of history, and will lead the working class from a general strike to a socialist revolution to overthrow the bosses, smash their state apparatus and bring in socialism.
There is only one party that is capable of this task. It is the WRP, the British section of the International Committee of the Fourth International. Join it today.