June 2014        

The class war intensifies

Juan Moscoso del Prado is a young deputy of the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Labour Party) for Navarra. A phrase from a book published by him in April, Ser Hoy de Izquierdas (To Be of the Left Today), summarises the trendy anti-Marxist position of social democrats everywhere: “La izquierda debe olvidar el discurso de clases” (the left must forget class discourse). Señor Moscoso and Éamon Gilmore sing from the same hymn sheet.
      Not realising that his ideas play into the hands of a belligerent Spanish right, Moscoso del Prado tells us that “citizens are no longer defined by their situation related to the work they perform but rather by other factors, above all their capacity to consume . . . so categories related to consumption, rather than class, have been created.”
      Writing in 1989, Richard Hoggart (author of The Uses of Literacy) had a more realistic viewpoint. “Class differences do not die,” he wrote. “They simply adopt new forms of expressing themselves . . . Classes are routinely assumed to be dead and buried, but the coffin remains empty.”
      “The world is divided between them and us,” he wrote—the them “who are at the top of the heap,” those who “dole out social assistance,” “those who recruit you for war,” “those who crush you if they can.”
      As the pseudo-left abandons the class war, the right torpedoes all social gains ever made by the organised working class. Taking advantage of the current economic crisis, this new phase of class struggle is spearheaded in Spain by the reactionary government of the Partido Popular (People’s Party), where it takes the form of measures to increase labour “flexibility,” pay reductions, generalised job precariousness, galloping deterioration of the education and health services, decreased access by the young to scholarships, youth emigration (almost 36,000 last year to Germany alone), draconian curbs on public assembly, violence by the riot police, and constant criticism of trade unions by government ministers and business bosses.
      Evictions (106 a day in 2013), often accompanied by police brutality, burgeoning homelessness and the proliferation of charity soup kitchens accompany this savage attack on the working class and go hand in hand with the accumulation of vast fortunes, a rifling of the public purse, and the ever-increasing mega-salaries of big bank and business directors.
      All this happens under the guidance of the Troika, the Boys in Black of the IMF, European Central Bank, and EU Commission, neo-liberalism’s class-war strategists, who imposed their diktat in Spain after lending the country €43.3 billion in order to bail out its banks. Repayments on this loan are borne by the Spanish taxpayer. A familiar picture?
      These Troika operatives praise the PP’s “labour reforms,” which, however, must be “deepened,” they say, and social payments (a small fraction of what they are in Ireland) even further reduced. They are happy that Spanish labour costs have been reduced by 8 per cent since the PP came to power in 2012, and are “concerned” that the unemployment rate will only budge slightly, if at all, from its present 26 per cent (56 per cent in the case of under-25s) in the immediate future.
      Since 2010, a million workers have been losing their jobs annually. The Troika notes approvingly that 3 million workers are in part-time jobs, a form of employment that has increased by 37 per cent since the crisis intensified in 2007, and 3.1 million are employed on temporary contracts that can be rescinded at any time at the employer’s whim. The long-term unemployed now amount to 3.65 million, 1.27 million of whom have been out of work for more than three years.
      Thanks to adjustments in Spain’s social welfare regime called for by the Troika, 2.67 million out of the 4.6 million unemployed workers are expected to live on air, being no longer entitled to the dole, meagre though it be. The IMF is calling for yet more cuts in the dole.
      Whatever about a confused social-democratic “left” in Spain, the right never doubts the existence of an open class war, which it is winning hands down in its vigorous campaign to reduce Spanish working-class standards to those of its Asian competitors. The class-collaborationist stance of Spanish social democracy plays an important role in this debacle.
      Parts of this picture are familiar in the other peripheral economies, such as Ireland, where the Labour Party suffered a well-merited electoral slaughter for its betrayal of working-class principles.
      Despite trendy pseudo-left analyses, the intensification of class warfare is central to the present strategy of neo-liberal governments, such as that of Enda Kenny in Ireland and of the PP in Spain. While Richard Hoggart’s “coffin” remains empty, Dracula, the right-wing bloodsucker, is very much on the warpath. Workers must wake up and recognise this political reality and not be fooled by the empty blather of the pseudo-left.
      The only sure defence of our interests lies in supporting principled formations, such as the CPI, that recognise the reality of class warfare. And act accordingly in the working-class interest!

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