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(en) Germany, Wildcat* No. 69, Spring 2004 - Fast Food. Just-In-Time. Next Job. Self-Employment Ltd.

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 31 Jan 2005 09:49:24 +0100 (CET)


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We all live with increasing levels of stress. Fear determines what we do: the
fear of being without a job, and therefore without money. Fear of being left
behind; of not being able to keep up with things. Fear of being alone.
The stress we can sense is the sound of a system breaking down
- a system that has made human work ever more productive.
But if we are constantly producing more and more with less and less
work, then how come we don't have more time? Why does the stress continue?
The substance of this social system is the exploitation of work.
Wildcat strikes are like an axe blow to the roots of the system. In the
common struggle against work, a new horizon becomes visible. It is about time

Which way to the revolution please?

Capitalism has been stagnating for thirty years. For the last twenty
years, the social system and people's working conditions have been
under attack from above; and for almost ten years, there has been a
worldwide movement denouncing the injustice of this system. Why
do so many people still stay so quiet? Why doesn't capitalism finally
give up and die?
Nothing is automatic

With the 'Great Depression' of 120 years ago, the end of capitalism
appeared to have already arrived. But the way it vaulted over this
barrier opened up a new era so impressively, that what first appeared
in the overcoming of that deep crisis is precisely what today we call
capitalism, i.e. the mass production of durable consumer goods such
as cars, fridges and central heating systems. This meant a huge leap
forward \u2013 including in the living standards of the people who
produced them.

But now, the connection between the technological and social
developments that capitalism seemed to guarantee has been broken
before our eyes. In the last three decades, the only place where strong
development is still taking place is in southern Asia.

When capitalism pushes up against barriers, then the preconditions
for a radical change (Latin: 'revolution') of all this shit are produced;
but capitalism will not break down 'automatically'.
Why do people still stay so quiet?

For one thing, it's because of fear over jobs, and the knowledge that
other people have it a lot worse. And secondly, there are social
classes that believe sinking wages and social cuts to be in their
interests: not only bosses but economic advisors, department
managers, high-earning television news reporters, and politicians and
functionaries of every kind, who bluntly and aggressively demand the
sharpening of social inequality. In Germany, the Schroeder
government is determined to push through tough reforms on behalf
of this so-called 'top third'(in reality, they clearly make up less than a
third of the population).

Meanwhile, it is no longer only construction workers who are actually
being set up in competition with workers on Ukrainian wages. The
German car industry threatens workers with Czech and Spanish
wages, and VW has managed to use this threat to significantly
undercut the in-house contract for the first time, with its 5000 x 5000
model. Software departments are now set up in competition with
programmers in India. Many people live under the threat of a worse
life; but what is lacking in all the uproar \u2013 aside from reforms
that leave the whole structure intact \u2013 is imagination about how
things could be different. It is for this sole reason that the 'domination
of the ideological sphere by economic advisors' exists.
What comes after the anti-globalisation movement?

Following the autumn 1999 protests against the WTO meeting in
Seattle, a global movement entered the stage for the first time in
history. In Seattle, workers and members of youth movements,
unionists and anarchists fought side by side on the streets. It
happened again during the World Economic Forum in Genoa in
summer 2001: refugees; people from squatted social centres;
workers: and the power of the state hit back \u2013 hard. Since then
the movement has lost its real momentum, but it still breaks out
again here and there: for example, when millions of people worldwide
marched against the Iraq war; or at the demo in Berlin on 1st
November 2003, against the government's social policies. The
movement against neoliberalism has fulfilled its ideological aim, in
that neoliberal ideology has been discredited; but it has not reached
its political and social aims: Iraq was bombed and occupied;
inequality is on the increase; more and more people are dying of
hunger around the world. Market relations are becoming more
prevalent and more intense in everyday life, and the result is
frustration and de-politicisation. Many 'star politicians' are quite
happy with the situation, because their analysis and advice is
reaching the ears of the powerful.

In this context the revolutionary current, which was mostly just a
splash of colour at mass events such as the World and European
Social Forums, might have a chance. More and more people know
that capitalism is never going to turn into a vegetarian shark. But in
order to seize this chance, it is no longer enough to talk about
'anti-capitalism' and 'social questions', and aside from that to
continue practising the same politics as before. A revolutionary
current has to relate to the fact that society's impasse, described
above, has begun to be broken: in Italy, France, Poland, Britain, etc.,
strikes and actions are underway that are self-organised; that push
things through by themselves, outside of institutional mediations.
Even in Germany, the wind has changed in the last few months.
The motor of history is not 'technical progress' - but class struggle

Up until now, capitalism has stood out precisely for its ability to
productively overcome 'natural' social and technical barriers. It seems
to embody an unstoppable development, conquering the whole world
with blood and iron, but also enabling a material improvement in the
living standards of generation after generation of the exploited. Up to
now, the destructive exploitation system has drawn its legitimacy
from this: it is the means by which those in power have been able to
claim to have a purpose in history, and they present themselves as
the representatives of that purpose. Thus, massacres are justified,
since otherwise 'we' wouldn't be 'where we are today'.

The labour movement has so far failed to radically criticise this view
of history, postponing such a standpoint until some future time.
Social democracy said: You must make sacrifices and build up the
economy, so that your children and grandchildren will have better
lives. Stalinism said: We need to kill a few million kulaks so that, in
fifty years' time, we will have built-up communism. Both of these
had the development of industry as preconditions; and both were big
fans of assembly-line production.
Capitalism and socialism

Although we talk about 'capitalism' \u2013 in this poster, for
example \u2013 it is perhaps a misleading term, since what we are
referring to is not some closed system. For clarity's sake, and since
we are not talking about a thing, but rather about a social relation, it
would be more precise to talk about 'capital'.

The transition from feudalism to capitalism was not a revolution, as
bourgeois written history would have us believe: in fact the rulers,
following that transition, were the same as before, with only a few of
them a head shorter than they had been. Feudalism had reached
crisis point for both sides. The serfs fled to the cities, and the
landlords also fled: from direct dependency on their serfs into more
fluid exploitation of them, through waged work. They were now only
concerned with multiplying their riches, which increasingly took the
form of money. The rebelliousness of the former serfs and servants
had not led not to freedom, but only to a new class relation; to a new
form of subjugation.

Capital is a social relation over which there is a constant struggle.
Nevertheless, a great many things arise from this relation that we can
touch with our hands - above all, machinery. The main
characteristic of capitalism is the production of the forces of
production themselves. Up until now, capitalism has been first and
foremost the agrarian revolution: rural economic productivity has
increased enormously, which created a surplus of labour force in the
countryside. Throughout the entire history of capitalism, people have
fled from the villages to the towns, from the fields to the factories,
from the 'south' to the 'north'. In the last 25 years, this migration has
far outweighed the valorisation possibilities for capitalism; the
migrants are besieging the world's metropolises with huge rings of
shanty towns; and there is a worldwide crisis of the city.

The capitalist development of agriculture is destructive: the use of
chemicals and profit-orientated gene manipulation; the theft and
reduction of cultivated plants and animal species by agricultural
corporations; the worldwide plundering of biological resources, and
the extinction of plant and animal species
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* A theoretical journal of the antiauthoritarian left initiatives



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