Great Britain - Socialist Resistance

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As a result of the systemic crisis of the global economy, the working masses of Britain, like those in the other sections of the Fourth International (FI), are experiencing the inevitable economic repression which accompanies the heightened class contradictions of a crisis – in this case, a crisis built upon volatile credit systems and accrual of debt, both in its public and private forms; Britain’s fiscal deficit is currently running at 10.3% as a result of the transfer of private debt from banks into the public domain following the banking crisis of 2008. Thus, this notion of the ‘public debt’ is being used to discipline workers through a number of ‘austerity measures’: by forcing them into accepting weakened pension packages in the public sector; by cutting public spending across the board, particularly in the areas of education, health and local councils, privatising as many state institutions as possible; lowering wages while inflation increases the price of subsistence commodities; marginalising trade unions and hammering them into submission when possible; and, ultimately, using the context of the crisis to increase the hegemony of neoliberalism. Furthermore, as a result of this free-market dogma, we are seeing increasing amounts of environmental exploitation while attention gets diverted away from the issue.

In the British section of the FI we have, therefore, been focusing our activities upon these sites of heightened class war and organising appropriately. Thus, we are active in the anti-cuts (anti-austerity) movement, both in our localities and as part of national campaigns such as Save Our NHS and Coalition of Resistance (CoR) – a group formed from grassroots campaigns that makes a point of retaining left unity and which led a successful ‘Europe against Austerity’ conference in October. Trade Union agitation has proved particularly successful – 500,000 marched at the TUC-called protest of 26 March, 750,000 education workers came out on strike on June 30 and we are set for a blanket strike of public service unions on November 30 which will see millions come out onto the streets. In terms of electoral activity, following the break down of Socialist Alliance in 2003 and of The Respect Party in 2009, Socialist Resistance has been active in local elections under various umbrellas but is currently focused upon stimulating debate around the need for a national electoral coalition of the left, recently publishing New Parties of the Left: Experiences from Europe through IIRE and Resistance Books. Further to this, we retain strong links with the anti-war movement, particularly Stop the War Coalition, and we maintain a large emphasis on environmental activism, organising a tour on food sovereignty with an FI comrade from the Philippines, and retaining our positions on the National Committees of the Campaign against Climate Change and its Trade Union arm. Recently, however, there has been an explosion of discontent amongst the working class youth – youth unemployment is currently running at 21% – which saw rioting across the country, although in a disorganised fashion with consumer driven criminality playing a large role. Nonetheless, the current Occupy London Stock Exchange (OccupyLSX) movement, which has linked up with similar uprisings in America and mainland Europe, is taking on similar characteristics to the anti-globalization movements of the late 90s and, with its anti-capitalism and radical political ecology, is one of our main foci and is likely to last up until the New Year.