Now more than ever we need organising that is:
Donald Trump’s victory in the US elections, following the recent Brexit vote, creates a whole new political climate in the West.
Since the 1980s, working class people have suffered a massive attack with the loss of traditional industries, in favour of low-paid service jobs, and the destruction of the labour movement. The neoliberal model that was created was based on growth through the financial sector and it led to the 2008 economic crisis.
When the UK government bailed out the banks it forced us to shoulder the cost through austerity, cutting vital services and targetting the most vulnerable.
The left responded to post-crisis austerity first through mass protest around the world, and then the rise of several populist movements seeking parliamentary power. One by one, they have been defeated or have so far been unable to provide any real challenge.
And now things are about to get worse.
There are many uncertainties – what will Brexit mean? how will Trump govern? What we can expect in the UK is that austerity will go on, even if the aim is no longer to cut the deficit, and real wages will continue to decline.
Both Brexit and Trump’s presidency are a victory for the far right. Immigration to the UK will be curbed and border controls will become even more cruel. Racism against ethnic minorities will be reinforced by the tabloid media as the nationalist dream fails to appear.
Of course, we know that migrants don’t lower wages – bosses do.
From a capitalist perspective, immigration is essential for growth and running services like the NHS. It was never migration that caused a decline in living standards but capital’s pursuit of profit through outsourcing and financialisation.
For many in Scotland, the prospect of a second Independence referendum is seen as the chance to escape the Brexit nightmare. But we shouldn’t be complacent.
Scotland is unlikely to become independent before the UK leaves the European Union. The Scottish Government would then have to make even more cuts. And although the SNP are in favour of immigration, they want to control it with a points-based system which is likely to become more strict as times goes on.
Across Europe, including the Nordic countries which many Scots wish to emulate, we have seen the growth in popularity of anti-immigrant and far right parties.
Against the squeezing of working class living standards, and the racist divisions created among us, we should not trust in a ‘better nationalism’ whose social democratic facade is fading. We need a return of militancy and of workers’ solidarity across borders.
What can we do?
There are already important groups in Glasgow, run from the bottom up, who provide solidarity to all migrants. The Unity Centre offers practical support and advice to asylum seekers and migrants, including those detained in UK Detention Centres. They receive no funding and would really welcome your donation. You can also train to volunteer there, or support their appeals to protest deportations.
We will rise is a group of asylum seekers, migrants, and allies who campaign to end immigration detention in the UK. They have organised several protests at Dungavel Detention Centre and we can expect more in the future. The UK government’s plan to build a new detention centre at Glasgow Airport was recently rejected by councillors after protests. We need to make sure that any new attempts to build detention centres are stopped, and that resistance to detention is increased.
You can also provide accommodation for refugees, even if only for a short time, by contacting groups such as Positive Action in Housing.
We need to take seriously the growth of the far right. This covers everything from the more ‘respectable’ anti-immigration politics like UKIP to actual fascist groups. In this climate, their message will be amplified if we don’t resist them.
We must respect that a diversity of tactics will be used to counter them, including the usual marches, as well as disrupting their meetings and direct action. Left groups and workers’ organisations should work from below to co-ordinate effective actions, rather than allowing any one front organisation to dominate. We should also challenge the tabloid media who fuel a hatred of migrants, and support alternative grassroots media.
However difficult it can sometimes feel, the most important thing we can do is to organise as workers in our workplaces, and in our communities, for concrete demands. It is through militant collective action, without relying on bureaucrats or politicians, that we will bring about real change. Without regaining our power to disrupt capitalism we will be defenceless, and even ‘social democratic’ electoralism will be under no pressure to provide the reforms it promised.
But we shouldn’t wait for an election or a referendum sometime in the future for the changes we need now. Our demands should be universal: homes for all, sanctuary for all, food for all, properly funded healthcare for everyone – whether you are a ‘citizen’ or not. What’s stopping us?
Capitalism is internationalist, and so should our resistance be. The stronger our links with militant workers across Europe and around the world, with the capacity to block supply chains and spread our struggles, the more of a threat we’ll be.
What is the IWW?
We are a bottom-up, revolutionary union for all workers, with no paid officials and controlled by the membership. Get in touch if you want to come to a branch meeting or take part in our organising trainings. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org | http://www.iww.org.uk
Click here for a shortened pdf version of the St Andrew’s Day leaflet.