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Mass Movement against water charges. No excuse for the left now.
bin tax / household tax / water tax |
Friday November 07, 2014 16:54 by john throne - Facts For Working People
In the past workers were blocked from fighting by their leaders. The water charges movement shows this is no longer the case. The left no longer has any excuse for their failure to build a mass force.
Workers move en masse against the water charges. Their leaders can no longer hold them back. The left no longer have an excuse not to themselves be able to build a mass force. The left sectarianism, ultra leftism and opportunism of these groups has to be confronted.
The movement in Southern Ireland. No excuses for the left this time.
by John Throne
In the past the left in Southern Ireland could point to the role of the labor and trade union leaders holding back the working class. It could point to the working class itself not being prepared to act. But these excuses are a thing of the past. Tens and tens of thousands of working class people are now taking action and confronting the state on water charges. The question is what is to be done to build on this movement, to create a permanent fighting force that can take on and challenge the system.
The first step is to give this movement a program, strategy and tactics. I do not think it should be a socialist program. This would cut across the movement and be ultra left. There are many people not yet convinced of socialism but prepared to fight the water charges. I believe the program should be simple.
#We will not pay.#
The strategy and tactics should also be simple. Build a mass direct action united front on the statement #We Will Not Pay#. This means organizing in every community #We will Not Pay# committees. These should be democratic bodies where decisions are made by democratic discussion and votes. The strategy and tactics of these committees should be based on mass direct action. These committees should be open to all who agree with these policies. On this basis a united front can be built.
The mass direct action should be mass disruption on the streets. But more than that mass action to prevent the installation of meters. It should also include willingness to go to jail for the prevention of the installation of meters and for non-payment. And to disrupt the courts if any action is taken to jail anyone who prevents meters being installed and water charges being collected.
As well as this mass direct action any and all politicians and civil servants and workers who in any way help collect the charges should be identified and exposed and boycotted. Their names should be made public, their addresses also, the churches and clubs they go to, all services and facilities and utilities should be cut from their homes and businesses and clubs. They should be totally boycotted. If they can cut the water to non-payers homes then they can have the electricity gas etc cut from their homes. They should not be served in any store, petrol station, retail or wholesale outlet etc.
This would in a way be a selective strike against all who assist in implementing the charges. As far as a general strike as a whole the union leaders will do all to prevent this, it would also tend to be a demonstration with folded arms, it is better to take mass direct action to prevent the water charges being collected by a mass boycott of all who are involved in trying to collect. However if the united front of the #We Will Not Pay# committees has the resources to call a general strike they should do so but only if it is open ended and linked to mass occupations, the willingness to go to jail and the commitment to last until the charges are withdrawn.
This movement raises other issues. None of the major parties, from Fine Gael, to Labor, from Fianna Fail to Sinn Fein can be trusted to withdraw the water charges and reverse the austerity program. A new party has to be built. This poses a challenge to the left. It raises the issue of why this has not been done in the past. It raises the issue of the role and policies of the left.
I believe that out of the united front of the #We Wont Pay Committees# the left should seek to build a new mass workers’ party. This should not be openly socialist as there are many people in the present movement who are prepared to fight the austerity policy of the government but who would not yet be prepared to say they are socialist.
This new party should instead have a program which is explicitly opposed to austerity and to the world wide capitalist offensive, to the attacks that are taking place against working class people in Southern Ireland and internationally. It should stand for an end to austerity and this to be replaced by taking over the dominant sectors of the Southern Irish economy, the natural resources such as the oil and gas wealth, the banks and finances houses, the major industries and with the cancellation of all debt to the international and national banks deal with the country’s problems in this way. Building such a new mass workers’ party would be a huge step forward. But while recognizing this in and of itself it would not be enough.
It is not just a question of water charges in Southern Ireland. It is that capitalism will destroy life on earth as we know it unless capitalism is ended. Climate change, pollution, wars including nuclear war, all threaten to destroy life on earth under capitalism. Working people are throwing off their chains in Southern Ireland and taking action. The left no longer have any excuses. If capitalism continues to exist and destroys life on earth it will be the fault of the revolutionary left and the activists and would be activists and former activists in and around the working class movement and of the working class movement itself.
A mass revolutionary party and international has to be built if capitalism is to be ended. So within the mass direct action movement, within this new mass party of a an anti capitalist nature there has to be built a revolutionary socialist current. This would seek to develop support for and build a nucleus of revolutionary socialists who if it acted in a non sectarian, non ultra left and non opportunist manner would be able to build a mass revolutionary movement which could, in joint action with similar forces internationally end capitalism and build a new socialist world.
There are numerous problems that would face the building of such a force. One is left sectarianism. Left sectarianism destroys movements. The ULA was destroyed by left sectarianism. The left sectarianism of the Tipperary group and the SP who pulled out and wrecked it ,then by the SWP who took one foot out and kept one foot in while building their PBP as an alternative. Some other left groups were so sectarian they would not join the ULA. Left sectarianism is a scourge in the workers’ movement.
The left and I have been guilty of this also in the past has put what they saw as the interests of their own organizations above that of the movement. Some of us have learnt from this. I have and now seek to put the movement first and also seek to end the-non stop bickering and back stabbing amongst the left. This sectarian bickering has put tens of thousands of workers and youth off organizing as revolutionaries over the past decades.
Then there is the issue of ultra leftism. That is putting the full revolutionary program to all sections of the working class at all times irrespective of their existing and different levels of consciousness. The reality is that there are different levels of consciousness amongst the working class and the need is at any phase to win over and organize those who are presently prepared to take the road of revolution against capitalism and to assist these workers and youth to continually orient to and turn to and connect and unite with the mass of the working class and bring the entire working class along to the road of revolution.
These are some of the lessons I would suggest have to be looked at and discussed as this huge movement and opportunity develops in the South of Ireland. The main lessons are that to solve the problems of the country and the problems internationally capitalism has to be ended. That to achieve this a mass revolutionary party and international has to be built. So within the mass direct action movement, within any new mass party there should be built a revolutionary socialist current. This would seek to develop support for and build a nucleus of revolutionary socialists who if it acted in a non sectarian, non ultra left and non opportunist manner would be able to build a mass international revolutionary movement which could end capitalism and build a new socialist world.
It is not not just a question of water charges in Southern Ireland. It is that capitalism will destroy life on earth as we know it unless capitalism is ended. Climate change, pollution, wars including nuclear war, all threaten to destroy life on earth under capitalism. Working people are throwing off their chains in Southern Ireland now and taking action. The left no longer have any excuses. If capitalism continues to exist and destroys life on earth it will be the fault of the revolutionary left and the activists and would be activists in and around the working class movement and of the working class itself.