Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Oppose the cuts

I haven't written here for a while, but since I believe that we are living in a crucial moment in human and natural history, and that the actions of the current goverment in the UK could be very signficant in determining whether we will take the path of social justice and environmental sustainability, or whether we will crusade into the chasm of climate chaos whilst losing our jobs, our welfare state, our education and our democracy.

I don't claim to be an economist at all, but it is clear that the government is launching a vicious onslaught of cuts and privatisation http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/10390823.stm
As a member of the Green Party (of England and Wales) I agree with Caroline Lucas, when she says,

'"Cuts are not an economic inevitability. They are an ideological choice. Politicians of all parties are now sharpening their axes to slash public spending, forcing those on lower incomes, who depend on public services the most, to pay the highest price for the recent excesses of the bankers"


In my humble opinion, if these cuts go through, it will be an absolute disaster, with the class system becoming even more entrenched, the poorest and most vulnerable suffering the most and the most well off, the 'capitalists' profiting from everyone else's loss.

If this goes through, I think that there will be disastrous environmental and social effects. For example, if more people are competing for fewer jobs, this can cause negative emotions, such as racism, sexism, homophobia etc. I remember that in Durham, at a particularly harsh time when there were perhaps five or six big issue sellers, one seller who was in a very bad situation was 'explaining' to me that the reason why he couldn't sell anything was because of the Romanians, who came in, took the jobs and took over the big issue (despite the fact that the Romanian seller was in a similarly vulnerable situation). My point is, that these measures have the effect of crushing peoples' spirit, and creating false divides, which can cause negative emotions, since it is much easier to scapegoat someone you know than to blame something more abstract or hidden. in this sort of situation, we are pitted against one another and lose all collective democratic power and also lose the ability to criticise authorities and think beyond the media-produced stereotypes.

My point here is not to explain what has happened, or what will happen, but to appeal for people to take action.

Whatever reasons you have, whatever political position you come from, I am sure that there are many of you who oppose the cuts. However, there is a world of a difference between disliking something and challenging something.

As illustrated in the quotation by Caroline Lucas earlier on, I hope that you agree that they aren't inevitable. Unfortunately, we are often asked to moan a bit, but basically accept them http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/3042326/Britains-smiles-better.html I totally oppose this point of view.

To some extent we live in a democracy and the government is supposed to represent us.
As Henry David Thoreau said, 'The authority of government, even such as I am willing to submit to ... is still an impure one: to be strictly just, it must have the sanction and consent of the governed.'
Equally, (considering that the 'shock doctrine' of cuts, privatisation and increased VAT will affect the poorest, the most vulnerable, the 'working class') I think it is worth considering what Marx said, '
the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves'.

I am not interested in arguing for any of these philosophies here, but my point is that on one hand, the government needs some form of consent to implement the neoliberal onslaught of cuts and privatisation, and that, on the other hand, opposition to this cannot simply rest in the mind. Simply moaning to a couple of people won't do anything. We need to make clear our opposition.
There are many forms of opposition: protest marches; writing letters; withholding labour; civil disobedience etc, but for me, the point is that something is done and that a lot of people do it. I don't know what the best thing to do is, but there are many options.

Whether or not the opposition is coordinated to literally bring down the goverment, whether it will be a more decentralised mixture of strikes, protests, letter writing, etc, if enough people are opposed to the governments' plans, the effect would at least be that the government would lose the moral authority to impose the budget on a non-consenting population.

If we fail at this, many jobs will be lost, the market will control our health and education even more strongly through the cruel weapon of privatisation, we will have missed another chance to solve climate chaos and we will essentially sell our right to oppose an unjust government and to determine ourselves democratically.

I don't care who you voted for, what your religion, philosophy or politics are, but, if you oppose the cuts, if they will lose you a job, crush your soul, I call on you to