Fight for wages; fight for socialism

THE NEWS that inflation had fallen to zero in February was hailed by Tory cheer-leaders as another boon for the British economy and the mythical “hard-working families” that all the bourgeois parties claim to represent. But it was soon swept off the front pages in favour of the latest plane crash and the sacking of a well-known TV presenter, which reflects the fact that the inflation rate is utterly meaningless for millions of workers living on the bread-line across the country.

Last month’s figure was indeed the lowest rate of Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation since CPI estimates began in 1988. But the CPI statistics can be misleading as they exclude housing, unlike the Retail Price Index, the old inflation yard-stick that includes housing costs and mortgage repayments.

There has been a fall in the price of food and petrol but that has nothing to do with the policies of the Conservative-led Coalition government. Crude oil prices have plummeted. But this is largely due to stepped up production by the Saudis and the other feudal Arab princes who, at the behest of US imperialism, are working to undermine the Russian and Iranian oil industries.

The cost of food has also dropped but this is largely due to the glut of agricultural produce in the European Union following Russia’s ban of EU food imports in retaliation for the sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation over the Ukrainian crisis.

The Tories tell us that the cost of living is the same as it was last year. The employers will use it to justify pay freezes and pay cuts in the year to come. They will all say that everyone now has more spending power and that’s another good reason for voting Conservative at the general election in May.

No worker cares about the inflation rate one way or the other. It’s what’s in the pay packet that counts.

The wages struggle is central to the improvement of living standards and ensuring that workers have the money to buy back the goods and services that they produce and provide. But once a wage increase has been won it is quickly eroded in a variety of ways, either directly or by stealth, such as increases in the cost of living through inflation, increasing cost of energy, transport, private and social rents, increases in pension contributions, paying to use the health service or education, VAT increases and tax rises or by the state increasing the retirement age. Winning a wage increase under capitalism only gives temporary respite and can be taken back at any time.

The measures and ploys that the ruling class use to erode wages are purely to defend their own self-interest. But those same measures ensure that crises occur more frequently and tend to be more severe each time. It is this contradiction that must be exposed during the fight to defend and increase wages, pensions, jobs, work-life balance other social activities.

Complete social justice can never be possible under capitalism. We are not all in it together or have a stake in ensuring that capitalism survives or that workers benefit from some trickle-down effect. All that workers get from the capitalist table is the crumbs, so while capitalism survives there will always be a fight to increase and defend the share that workers get from capitalism. But in the long term the only way to ensure that this share is maintained and improved, and not to have to defend it time and time again, is by fighting for working class state power, the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Contrary to what is portrayed by the ruling class and the bourgeois media, we are not all in it together. It is either us or them; the workers or the bosses. The alternative to working class state power is creeping fascism — a festering morass of exploitation of workers and the environment, racial and communal strife, rapid growth in crime, drug trafficking, violence and war. The capitalists must not be allowed to destroy society; it is they who must be supplanted.

Until such time as socialism replaces capitalism, there needs to be a continuous political struggle to defend and improve social services and benefits. In tandem with this struggle there must be a collective industrial struggle for better wages and working conditions that takes on the capitalist class head on.