Marching will not defeat Austerity


As general strikes and unrest erupts across Europe last week it is important to reflect on our recent day of action against Austerity. On the 20thNovember tens of thousands of people marched in cities across the UK against austerity and the recent passing of the devastating welfare reform bill. In Belfast, several hundred took part in a similar rally organised by the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Far from showing any potential power these ritual marches from A-B ending with various sound bites and pitfall speeches from our trade union officials serve to reinforce a pervading cycle of powerlessness and are solution to defeating austerity.

If anyone is under any illusions as to where the priorities of our trade union bureaucracy lay which is in bed with the bosses and Stormont fat cats we should look no further than this extract from a speech.

“Let this rally today send a message to our MLAs and our MPs from all political parties that we, the people, are firmly opposed to the failed policy of austerity which destroys lives and futures.We demand that they stand up for the people of Northern Ireland and refuse to slavishly implement the cuts.”

This is despite the fact that only a week earlier our local Stormont politicians endorsed the welfare reform bill once again confirming that fact that they are not only active enforces of a vicious neo-liberal agenda but are part of the problem rather than the solution.

What will defeat austerity which is class war in another disguise waged against our class is not countless marches and lobbying politicians but by building a mass movement of the working class rooted in our communities and workplaces that does not pay lip-service solidarity and direct action.

As a WSM leaflet distributed during the last public sector strike early this year pointed out.

‘Solidarity and support for strike action needs to be built across all workplaces - unionised or not - and in our communities where we are feeling the impact of these devastating cuts on our standard of living, if we want to win. In the short-term we need to be organising for rolling strike action including go-slows and ultimately an indefinite general strike. Such action is needed because history shows us that those at the top will concede little of significance without such mass resistance.’

Therefore if we want to win, we need to recognise that being right isn’t enough. Unfortunately, our society is not a debating chamber where everyone is given an equal voice, and the decisions that affect our lives are not taken on moral grounds. If you have not realised already our rulers don’t care about doing right by us. What they care about is power and wealth, and supporting the interests they represent.

Time to get organised…