Wednesday, 11 May 2011

As the class struggle escalates...

In more than a few conversations recently, it's been noted that activists now are busier than at any time since the 1980s. This is due to the broad scope of the government's attacks on the working class. If proof of this were needed, it comes in the sheer volume of activity that we've seen this week.

On Monday, Liverpool Solidarity Federation organised another picket of Atos Origin, as part of the national week of action called by disability activists and benefits campaigners. The action saw around twenty people demonstrating against the companies unscrupulous actions in the war against the most vulnerable people in society, much of which I've previously documented here and here.

The same day saw 200 postal workers walk out of the Sandhills depot after workers were sacked for following management orders. Needless to say, this was exactly the right thing to do and there needs to be a broader movement of wildcat action in response to unfair dismissals and victimisation. News that there would be a picket line at 6.30 the next morning led to me and another SF comrade getting up at the crack of dawn to show our support, only to find out upon arrival that an agreement had been reached to return staff to work.

This morning, I joined the picket line at Shorefields College in the Dingle. The school faces becoming an academy under the government's privatisation agenda, and the school staff are fighting tooth-and-nail to stop the sell off. It represents a move towards the corporatisation of education, which as I have blogged before is entirely the wrong direction if we want a genuinely libertarian education system. Nevertheless, it was good to see a strong turnout of staff, pupils, and supporters on the picket line and the subsequent march. There is a growing movement of picket line solidarity which goes far beyond anarcho-syndicalists, and this is no doubt helping to reinvigorate and connect struggles. This can only be a good thing.

There is still more to come, which I will report on, but it is interesting to note that this increase in activity doesn't just come on a single front. For example, where the week prior to the election saw a solid block of anti-fascist activity, leafleting on estates in Anfield and Tuebrook. Instead, we are seeing action on a number of fronts as government attacks hit the working class across a number of sectors.

But, whilst this is galvanising people to take action, it is also causing a sharp polarisation of opinion which is in turn making the reactionary minority more active as well. I've previously noted the vow of EDL splinter groups to target any and all "red" events and actions no matter what the cause, and in Liverpool the first target was the radical bookshop News from Nowhere. Around 15 EDL invaded the bookshop to unfurl a flag and harass members of staff for "supporting terrorists," and in the aftermath a bunch of EDL muppets spammed up the Liverpool Antifascists Facebook page to refute the accusation that they were cowards and bullies by calling people "cunts" and offering fights. Lovely people.

A similar polarisation of opinion within workplaces is encouraging scabs to be become more vocal and reactive in a similar vein. I have enough experience of this in my own workplace, where vexatious claims against reps have been treated with the utmost seriousness by management whilst actual harassment of reps has been dismissed on the most spurious claims. I blogged about similar events back in November, and this kind of behaviour will only escalate as the disputes do.

Weeks packed with activity such as this one will only increase. There will be a range of struggles and issues to deal with, from strikes and protests to challenging increasingly militant fascists and scabs. All of this should be expected within the context of class struggle.

But as the antagonisms grow, so does the broad base of the movement. This only makes the task of encouraging an open and democratic movement based on mass participation more urgent. Not least so that people aren't demobilised from above to leave a few people burning themselves out in a fight on multiple fronts.