On Young and Precariat Workers

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Above photo taken by Mary Finch

Below is an editted version of my contribution to the discussion on British Perspectives at the Socialist Party’s March 2017 National Congress:

Ryan Aldred, Plymouth and South West

Comrade chair, comrades.

For many youths growing up in the 90’s, those putting forward a so called “alternative” to the Tories would have been Tony Blair, promising a university education for everybody and a life of prosperity thereafter. And how prosperous we are now! This was followed by Nick Clegg, promising to end tuition fees and put a brake on Tory austerity; well done there Cleggy!

It should therefore come as no surprise that in some of the most deprived areas, that young and precariat workers take a very jaded approach to Corbyn. There is some mileage in more boldly putting forward our programme among these layers. It is mainly a layer of older workers returning to the Labour Party and more politically engaged students who identify with Corbyn and recognise that he is qualitatively different from his neo-liberal predecessors.

There is a backwardness in class consciousness and particularly combativity compared to previous periods. This, coupled with the atomisation of young and precariat workers especially along with their abhorrent living conditions which can explain the increasing prevalence of mental health issues working class people are struggling to overcome. With poverty contributing to isolation and social exclusion leading to depression and the constant worry of living hand to mouth resulting in greater levels of anxiety.

It is these same material conditions which give rise to an often inchoate and elemental anger which can quickly rise to the surface and potentially spill over. Thus in this volatile period there is a danger that we could see a return of the riots which took place in 2011 as the conditions are still there which caused the riots to erupt.

Likewise, we could see a new occupy style movement albeit one on a higher political level due to the increased pace at which processes and events are taking place compared to the original occupy movement. Moreover, we’re likely to see the explosive injection of youth on demonstrations such as we have seen with the anti-Trump protests for instance.

With the lack of generalised industrial struggle in this period compared to some of the heroic struggles that took place in the Thatcher years, combined with the lack of organised opposition from Corbyn and general lack of momentum in Momentum, we could see the frustrations of youth finding expression in a resurgance of ultra-left and anarchist ideas. We have already seen this in embryo in the anti-party mood in the indignados and occupy movements and this will no doubt increase if we see further betrayals by left populist parties such as Syriza in Greece.

With all this unpredictability and volatility, one thing remains glaringly obvious, we will continue to see the accumulation of capitalist contradictions, agitating and radicalising the working class and especially the youth and more precariat layers. Improving technology is exacerbating this, self-service machines replacing shop workers and, as reported in the Financial Times this week, electronic lecturing displacing even this once secure profession.

We’ve seen the opportunities for super exploitation with apps such as deliveroo and uber eats, this has been compounded by Phillip Hammond’s budget, targetting the self-employed which will hit those in the rising gig economy hardest.

There is a desperate need for a bold and audacious alternative and in the absence of a serious fightback from the Corbynistas, TUSC is well placed to build towards that, even with the disappointing withdrawal of the SWP from TUSC. By showing confidence in our ideas and our programme, as evidenced by our strong intervention in the March 4th NHS demo, we can win new layers to our ranks and capture and hopefully harness some of that anger.

By being patient, flexible and resilient when building amongst casualised and particularly young workers, accommodating for comrades’ daily struggles, we can build confidence in these layers to take their first steps organising in the harsh conditions of zero-hours living.

This can help us to sink deeper roots into the class to ensure workers don’t internalise feelings of failure for not being productive members of a capitalist society which sees fit to discard them. By agitating among these workers to express their rightful indignation at a system that is failing them, whilst linking their struggles into the wider struggles of the working class by helping to organise these layers, we can prepare the ground for the revolutionary idea that we can instead discard this capitalist system and build with our class towards a socialist alternative.

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A future lampooned…

SMC

This piece has been inspired by some of my comrades from the Socialist Meme Caucus:

https://www.facebook.com/socialistmemecaucus

They recently suggested to “Make a prediction on the development of one social phenomenon or another, see if it comes to pass. See if you’re a real Jedi of the Proletariat. May the Dialectic be with you.”

I wrote a serious prediction but here is my vision of a future lampooned…

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental 😉
The EDL will rise in popularity this Christmas with their new flagship facebook campaign to get Irving Berlin’s White Christmas to the top of the charts. Nigel Farage reveals that he is a terminator sent back from the year 3000 to ensure that UKIP forms a coalition with the Conservatives who oust Cameron and replace him with General Boris Johnson. General Johnson, as he soon becomes known, leads the Thatcher youth into a new age of the Fourth Reich. He writes up an overwhelmingly popular policy to fill the Olympic Stadium in London with blancmange but quickly reveals his true intentions when he privatises air. He then closes all borders to immigration by blasting out Justin Bieber at every airport/port/beach and blocks up the Euro Tunnel with blonde, blue-eyed migrant workers.

George Galloway leads a left-wing rebellion when he discovers a hidden cache of muslamic rayguns. Ed “the revolutionary red” Miliband joins forces with him after a complicated spine transplant procedure performed in the People’s Hospital, set up in the basement of all SWP members’ houses when they deem real hospitals to be too petit-bourgeois. 

Jesus arrives back on the scene which causes mass celebrations in the United States of Westboro Baptist Church God Hates Fags America until Jesus states in a public address to the world that he fully backs Kim Jong Un and the true believers of North Korea. World War 3 quickly breaks out but all nations quickly surrender when Kim Jong Un reveals his latest secret hi-tech weapon- the Repetitive Overarm Concussive Killers codename R.O.C.K.s.

The scientology program is given global backing and soon everyone on planet Earth is packed into North Korea’s Warp Drive capable Super Cruiser in search of paradise. This however, proves unfruitful when the Super Cruiser doesn’t quite have the power needed to escape the Earth’s atmosphere and ends up at the bottom of the ocean with no survivors, just off the coast of South Korea.

The End.