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128th Durham Miners Gala and Big Meeting:
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128th Durham Miners Gala and Big Meeting:
Build the Workers’ Opposition to the Coalition Agenda! There is an Alternative!
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128th Durham Miners Gala and Big Meeting:
Statement of the Northern Region RCPB(ML)
This year's Durham Miners Gala comes at a time when it has become bitterly clear to the working class movement that the Coalition agenda represents an all round attack on the public good in favour of the rich and their monopolies. This ongoing capital-centred agenda is wreaking havoc on the whole economy, public services, the NHS, jobs, pensions, pay, small businesses and on all the rights of the people. Once again the Durham Miners Gala will play its role in bringing the working class and people of the north-east together in their thousands to meet and discuss how to further build the resistance around the alternative and to zero in on the government’s arrogance that it can get away with anything. This workers’ opposition is not just a rearguard action undertaken in desperation but it is resistance that continues with its agenda that there is an alternative and that the crisis must be resolved in favour of the working class and people.
Of course the agenda of the Coalition has the outlook of the ruling elite of making fireproof the interests of the big monopolies and banks to protect their billions of pounds in profits at the expense of the people and so then present everything that the working people have fought for in terms of public services, jobs, welfare benefits, pensions and pay and conditions as “costs” to be cut back. The Coalition agenda is also to use the "national debt" and "quantitative easing" as massive pay-the-rich schemes, while using the pretext of "reducing the deficit" to impose "austerity measures" on the working class and people. The propaganda about the "debt crisis" has reached such outrageous proportions that the issue of "sovereign debt" is being used by those who act as the executive power in the Eurozone to impoverish and wreck whole countries like Greece and Ireland. Since the last Durham Miners Gala the working class movement has been continuing to aim its blows against this ruling elite with one of the biggest one-day strikes over recent times on November 30, 2011, in the fight for decent pensions for all and with continued actions across the country this year to defend those very public services, jobs, pensions and pay and conditions under attack. This is the fight for the alternative – for a change of direction to the pay-the-rich system. The workers’ movement agenda is for society to stop paying the rich and their monopolies and instead hold them to account so that the billions of pounds these monopolies expropriate in added value from the labour of the masses of working people is claimed by society for the welfare of all.
It is in the current situation where the movement of the working class and people for the alternative has taken root and is developing that the ruling elite is attempting to try and divert this opposition and stem this movement for the alternative. Just as the anti-war movement has faced the onslaught from this ruling elite in the form of the government and their state demonising Muslims, imprisoning them without trial, singling their communities out for special attack to try and break the coherence of this movement and destroy it, the movement for the alternative is also faced with a barrage of propaganda against every section of the people – from the youth to unemployed, to doctors, to immigrants to try and break the unity of the working people in every kind of way. Here the aim of the workers’ opposition is to uphold the rights of all and to stand by its watchword that an injury to one is an injury to all.
The Coalition government is bending over backwards to accommodate the dictate of the big banks, its arms industry and all the monopolies not only over Britain but also over the entire world. It arrogantly dreams of making Britain a great power that dominates the world again. It continues the criminal war in Afghanistan on which it spends vast sums. Having bombed Libya killing thousands to exact regime change it is now the most bellicose of the European powers for interference in Syria for the same end. Alongside the US, France, Israel and other NATO countries, Britain is acting as the centre of backwardness in the world, riding roughshod over the demands of the people and the vast majority of countries for a peaceful resolution of conflicts. The threat to Syria and Iran has brought it into serious contention with Russia and China which threatens to destabilise the whole world. For the workers’ movement, that fight is for the alternative to war and for an anti-war government to make Britain a major factor for peace and stability in the world. A government that stands for no troops on foreign soil, for withdrawal from NATO and all aggressive military alliances.
Over the last year many workers who looked to the Labour Party have seen that it continues to be unable to carry out its own declared redefining of itself from “New Labour” to “Labour” and it maintains the pro-war consensus over Afghanistan, Syria and Iran and echoes the divisive stands of the ruling elite that try to wreck the unity of the people in this fight for the alternative. Many of the youth do not look to the Labour Party, and whilst the movement is for the unity of all in building the Workers’ Opposition this can only be done in addressing the question as to how the struggle for the alternative can engage the whole movement of the people and be effective.
The times demand that the workers build their opposition and become organised as an effective independent political force in their own right. Their demands will need to centre around: an economy that guarantees the right to a livelihood; safeguarding the NHS as a publicly-provided National Health Service with an end to privatisation; an end to the barbaric wars and the bringing of the troops home from foreign soil and withdrawal from NATO; education provided as a right and not a privilege; respect for the natural environment in the interests of human existence; not-for-profit banking, credit and insurance under direct public control; public ownership of industries fundamental to the social economy; a peaceful social environment in which the national economy is developed not to serve maximum profit of the rich who take more out of the economy than they put in, but to serve the claims of the people on society. Such a programme can be summed up as: Stop Paying the Rich! Increase Investments in Social Programmes!
At the 128th Durham Miners Gala, the Northern Region of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) calls on the working class and people to continue to build an organised Workers’ Opposition to end the dictate of the big banks and monopolies over the economy and of the big parties over Westminster. The workers in all sectors, and of all nationalities and political views, must unite and oppose the attempts of the class enemy to divide them by setting one section against another. They must not hand the initiative to any other force, but must constitute themselves as a united opposition in the workplaces, colleges and communities, discussing among themselves to decide everything. Build the Workers’ Opposition as a powerful force to change society!
There Is An Alternative!
Build the Workers’ Opposition!
No to Monopoly Dictate!
No to the Wrecking of the Social Economy!
Stop Paying the Rich! Increase Investments in Social Programmes!
Fight for a Pro-Social, Anti-War Government!
The workers at Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich plant in the West Midlands were presented on July 13 with a revised version of the Castle Bromwich product proposal. The workforce had rejected the original version with a majority of 68% against the “new product proposal”. A ballot of the JLR (Jaguar Land Rover) workers will be held on July 18 on the new document.
In its Employee Bulletin of July 2012, Castle Bromwich Operations sets out details of the new deal, which it says is being unanimously recommended by the Castle Bromwich Shop Stewards’ Committee. The Bulletin is headlined: “Bid for New Investment”.
In essence, there appears to be no great difference from the initial product proposal, which consisted of 12 pages. The striking difference is that by removing some clauses from the initial document, the focus on “Assured Saturday Working” really stands out. Assured Saturday working is basically a demand that each worker is committed to working for twelve Saturdays in any 12-month period. At the same time, there are other demands for increased “flexibility” and “efficiency”. For example, workers will be expected to “take part in videoing of processes, self timing and participating in Learn Masterclasses”. This is somewhat ironic, since management recently sent round a circular demanding that the workers must not use image-capturing devices, and that any videos posted to websites be taken down immediately.
To justify the extension of the working week, and the expectation that workers submit to management-controlled procedures in the name of improved efficiency, the JLR Castle Bromwich management engages in its capital-centred logic. It attempts to impose this on workers, with the threat that if the workers do not agree, they will be jeopardising new investment, jeopardising the future of the plant after 2020, and threatening the plant’s competitiveness in the global market.
It should not be overlooked that JLR made a record £1.5 billion profit last year. This is one of the largest figures ever recorded by a Midlands firm. Reports have pointed out: “The growth comes on the back of soaring demand from China. JLR sold 314,433 cars, the highest ever, representing a growth of 29.1 per cent year on year. The company turned over £13.5 billion represented, a growth of 36.9 per cent over the £9.9 billion last year.”
The sentiment among the workers is naturally that they do want to fight in defence of their rights and working conditions. Whether or not workers as a whole accept or reject the new recommendations, it is the capital-centred logic that is to be condemned, the logic that if the workers do not agree to the management’s conditions, then they will be the ones who will be responsible for Jaguar’s failure to be “competitive”.
It should be pointed out that all the concessions being demanded of the workers are no guarantee that a solution to JLR’s “competitiveness” will be found. There are other factors in the global market that are out of the workers’ hands and those of the owners of capital who own and control JLR. Car workers in the West Midlands have bitter experience of decisions affecting not only their livelihoods but also the future of their communities being taken well out of their hands, whether it be in Detroit or by the financial oligarchy in Europe or elsewhere.
This underlines the necessity for the workers themselves to have their own agenda, which they decide, such as the fight for the right to a livelihood to be recognised. It is essential that workers stick to their own experience, and get together to discuss what is happening in front of their eyes. Whatever the outcome of the forthcoming ballot, WWIE stands by the Jaguar Workers at Castle Bromwich, as at Halewood and elsewhere, in their stands to strengthen their organisation and uphold their rights and interests.
Hard on the heels of the ludicrous charade and tawdry trappings of the Diamond Jubilee pageant, and its shambolic coverage by the BBC in particular, attempting to turn a washout of a debacle into a triumph of support for reaction, the BBC has now launched as thoroughly reactionary but far more beguiling and higher level an attempt at propaganda for backwardness. It has marshalled its most eminent "scholars", the cream of acting talent, and no-expense-spared production values in its Shakespearian "Hollow Crown" TV series, being aired over three weekends, with much accompanying argument of its relevance and significance for today's world.
Shakespeare, undoubtedly, was one of the greatest-ever dramatists. He stood in the forefront of the great flowering of the arts in the Renaissance period, encapsulating the rich language and thinking of the age, the conflicts and vision of the times, as a moribund feudalism disintegrated in the face of the onslaught of the rising capitalism. These were revolutionary times and artists such as Shakespeare captured and embodied the spirit of the age. They were a factor for progress.
But is it true to say that Shakespeare's plays display timeless human conflicts and uphold universal values, as is argued? Are these plays relevant and significant in the 21st century world? In the case of the plays on kingship highlighted in the BBC's "Hollow Crown" series, do they represent universal problems of power and leadership with meaning for our times?
It is true that the likes of David Cameron, as Blair and Thatcher before him, may well see themselves as virtual Kings (or Queens), with God and the Royal Prerogative behind them, with power increasingly in the hands of the executive, even in a parliament of rogues and charlatans dominated by a party system in thrall to the ruling financial oligarchy. But this only underlines the outdated and archaic nature of the current political system, the backwardness of those it puts in power, and its almost complete divorce from the popular will.
Shakespeare's values and vision were those of capitalism in its revolutionary and progressive phase. That time has long, long since gone! The current era, which began with the October Revolution of 1917, remains that of imperialism and proletarian revolution, no matter this revolution is in temporary retreat. It is a time when imperialism, with its endless predatory wars, continues to threaten the peoples of the world with ever-greater catastrophes. It is also the time when the workers' and people's movements grow in strength and never cease their quest to solve the problems of the world in the favour of the people.
Above all, this is the time of the collective, of the people organising themselves, with the working class in the van - a class which did not exist as a class in Shakespeare's day - of individuals coming together to work for the common good, for a new society befitting the socialised nature of today's world. This is not what is depicted in Shakespeare's plays. How could it be? This does not take away from Shakespeare's greatness, from his place in the great treasury of world literature, from the need for those working in the arts and academe to have his works at their fingertips, from appreciation of his and his peers’ contributions to the language. But Shakespeare's vision is not one for today; his values are not those which should be upheld in these times. Rather, to argue such is to serve reaction.
It is a fact that back in the 1950s Shakespeare was often taught only to literary specialists in secondary schools. Since then it has become the practice even to assail nursery school children with Shakespeare in cartoon form! And it has become increasingly commonplace to perform Shakespeare in modern dress - a recent example on TV was Julius Caesar set in modern-day Africa. Even modern playwrights too often fall back on Shakespearian themes and a TV drama such as The Soprano's, superbly written and acted as it was, receives as its highest accolade a comparison with King Lear! Does not this all suggest not only a certain bankruptcy but also a woeful disregard of the needs of the times?
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