The movement against "pension reform": Drawing the lessons for future struggles

2 posts / 0 new
Last post
The movement against "pension reform": Drawing the lessons for future struggles
Printer-friendly version
Some disparate points here to

Some disparate points here to contribute to a discussion on the very wide-ranging issues raised by the text on the "pension reforms" and other elements on the class struggle:

The overriding feature at the moment is the effects of the pandemic on the workers' struggle which, despite some small but significant outbreaks, is nevertheless very much a secondary factor at the moment due to the obvious fact that workers have to stay apart from each other. We, revolutionaries, should take this opportunity of this "break "to discuss so we are at least in some ways ready for the later resumption of workers' struggle the appearance of which we are more or less certain is coming. Another factor that should reinforce our approach is one of patience, revolutionary patience (essential along with a sense of humour, according to Lenin). This approach will enable us to tackle the main issues without immediatism, without wanting to substitute action for action's sake and without falling into the bi-polar opposites of optimism and pessimism and allow us to face up to the enormous challenge ahead with a relative strength beyond our numbers. The bourgeoisie has already laid some of its cards on the table with the announcement of extensive job cuts globally.

On the text and the class struggle from 60's to the 80's:
I agree with the assessment of the text on the struggle during this period, that is of a combative working class, fighting for its own interests and coming up against the confines of the union but that the workers were unable to develop a deeper political consciousness of capital and they couldn't effectively take control of and spread the struggle, i.e., self-organisation and extension. In this sense the political level of struggle in the main capitals of that period is much like that of Iran and Iraq recently; high levels of combativity, de facto widespread solidarity but few conscious expressions of self-organisation and extension. The victory of the state and its unions was emphasised in the crushing defeat of the miner's strike a point which revolutionaries haven't failed to make. I think that the text underestimates the not insignificant notion that the working class, through the defence of its own interests, held back world war and thus was a "blind" factor in the collapse of the blocs.
But its lack of consciousness left it wide open to the deafening campaigns of the bourgeoisie coming out of the implosion of the Russian bloc and the disintegration of that of the west. As the text said they made the workers feel "ashamed of their own history" which was presented to them as resulting in Stalinism and the gulags.

The text and its historical references put a lot of emphasis on the road to victory being strewn with defeats. It's easy to accept this at face value but then fall back into the traps of immediatism or activism in order to "compensate". But this is a fundamental aspect of the class struggle and it is not the "incremental" approach of the anarchists and leftists, that is win a "victory" here (however insignificant) and then build on it for the next victory and so on. Therein lays a never-ending leftist trap that avoids any aspect of a revolutionary development.

The text talks about the early 2000's and a certain revival of workers' struggles, some quite significant, but falling back again several years later into "apathy, despondency and resignation", not least from the effects of the economic crisis. One element here is how quickly and efficiently the bourgeoisie was to use the anti-globalisation movement, further disorientating the workers and enrolling them into state campaigns for another, cleaner world. The bourgeoisie is well aware of how consciousness can develop and expand within the working class so valid questions about the future of capitalism can be contained in even quite "militant" expressions for reform. There's no doubt that "ecological" questions are becoming important to the working class and represent an area for the development of consciousness. The article uses the example of workers in recent struggles identifying somewhat with the bush fires in Australia. Much more so for the potential for class consciousness does the Covid-19 pandemic also pose major and fundamental questions for the future of capitalism in the development of consciousness overall. As well as other populist mobilisations, the Yellow Vest movements showed the working class as least partially mobilised behind the petty-bourgeoisie and its nationalism and racism. How things can change in a few short years when the "pension reform" struggle, genuine workers actions, saw the petty-bourgeoisie ousted from them or mobilised behind the proletariat.  But inter-class ism will remain a significant danger for the working class particularly in any "democratic" or "changed" post-Covid-19 society that want to "pull the nation together". A general point here is never to underestimate the bourgeoisie, its cunning, its organisation and its ruthlessness. Examples are legion over the last 150 years and we've seen elements of it in the Covid-19 crisis, a crisis directly caused by capitalism and worsened by its agents. Along with other near-certainties the strengthening of the state and the repressive apparatus of the ruling class is one of them.

The pension reform fight of the workers in France has been a recent first step along the road and it has ended in defeat and like all workers' struggles that end in defeat, as they generally do, the necessary lessons must be drawn time and time again. And like any defeat, it should contain some positive elements: in this instance the working class was back again and clearly said so; a class identity was expressed, solidarity, the workers learnt about themselves and their struggle and, in the main, the petty-bourgeoisie looks to have fallen in behind it. While not wanting to overestimate it at all, the struggles in France took place at a time when there was the expression of wider strikes across the world than had been seen in the previous years.

The bourgeoisie has got some of its post-Covid attack in early making massive job cuts across the globe; in this there is a certain unity of states against the working class and we can be certain of attacks to follow from the ruling class. The latter holds a strong advantage at the moment and, in a similar way that it blamed the deepening of its economic crisis onto the bankers, it's doing similar stuff now with the virus.