By Tim Hardy
Marches are supposed to be shows of strength. Indeed, they often are most effective when they signal the possibility of anger spilling over into generalised excess or violence, unpalatable though that might seem. Certainly, sheer numbers seem no reliable measure of efficacy: the march against the Iraq war being the oft-cited example in this case. They can certainly build some much-needed sense of solidarity for those opposed to austerity, but even those who find themselves buoyed by listening to the usual parade of damp dignitaries are likely to admit that it won’t, in itself, do much good. Of course, the TUC speaks about marches like this as a kind of three-dimensional lobbying, or a moral pressure on politicians to serve the ‘real’ interests of their electors. This reduction of political activity to a system of lobbying via moral shame is more widespread – many also talk about strike action or more targeted protest action in the same way. But it’s a rare case where mere moral embarrassment can avert economic policy or force a capitalist employer to behave better – were it otherwise, we’d already be living post-capitalism.
The latest essay from Pierce Penniless is unmissable. If you’re vacillating over going to the TUC Rally on October 20 then take comfort that you are not alone.
We need to participate in some form. However little the march will achieve, however risible Labour’s attempt to portray themselves as an alternative, we cannot afford not to show opposition to the coalition but nor can we afford to think that a nicely stewarded march from A to B is enough.
The growing confidence of the Chicago Boys of the Conservative party who are happy to tear up centuries of hard earned rights in order to increase the profits of the few has to be loudly resisted.
But we also need to recognise that while we are living through a crisis, one that they are using as an opportunity to enrich themselves further, the real crisis is far deeper than that.
When we talk about ‘crisis’, we shouldn’t just mean the various cyclical crises, or even a crisis in real wages masked by credit, but a permanent crisis gradually sharpening over time, centred on the defining features of capitalism itself: the dependency of the vast majority of the world on the sale of their labour-power for the means to subsist, the necessary precarity of that relation, and the paradox that even among an unprecedented ability to produce, people still starve and die.
Nightmare Politics: October 20th and after. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest.