Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Irish Bus Workers' Dispute

The Bus Eireann workers have gone out on strike to challenge the state’s attempt to significantly cut pay and extend working hours.
There is little or no chance of this strike being successful unless the striking workers are in a position to endure a sustained strike lasting several months. The most that can be expected from this struggle is a compromise involving some modification of the cost-cutting plan.
These NBRU workers have not generally gone out on strike because they are communists seeking the replacement of capitalism with communism. The most that can be said for them is that some of them are reformists of one sort or another. In other words they believe that capitalist society can evolve into a society in which their conditions of work and living standards of can be ultimately enhanced. Many of them don’t even possess a reformist culture. They simply believe that their living standards should be protected and even enhanced. Even if these workers are to win the strike it will not follow that their consciousness will be transformed into a communist character. If anything it will only reinforce their already existing prejudice that capitalist society is a natural and acceptable social form.

The Bus Eireann workers cannot see that capitalism is not progressive and is not designed to necessarily improve the living conditions of the working class. Consequently to simply mount a campaign against cutbacks is to promote the contradiction that capitalism can still exist while serving the interests of the working class. Capitalism is an obsolescent exploitative system. Consequently the only way that the class interests of workers can be advanced is through revolution --the replacement of capitalism by communism.

The correct strategy for the Bus Eireann strikers is one in which a popular campaign is mounted against cuts in living standards within the overall context of the abolition the capitalist state as a means towards establishing communist society. The Bus Eireann workers must fight against its employer within an overall struggle against all cutbacks on the living standards of the working class. In this way their action programme provides the principled basis for active support from the rest of the Irish working class. This is the principled basis for class unity.

But the key problem is that there exists no revolutionary communist party to provide leadership in the class struggle. The Socialist Party, the SWP and the People Before Profit are merely reformist organisations that seek to provide a more benevolent capitalism. In this sense they are Utopian and seek to inculcate illusions within the working class.