If we are "all in the same boat" in the recession, then we should rock it!

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3 November 2008

Judging from last week's sudden "recovery" on the stock market - whether it lasts or not is another question, of course - it is obvious that the recession does not mean the same thing for everyone. The fact that share prices seemed to be picking up can only reflect one thing - that the capitalists' profit machine is working overtime, at the very moment when so many of us are facing the prospect of short-time working, if not the sack, particularly for casual workers.

If anything, this last week showed that the system is awash with funds and that the capitalists are more than ever into speculation to make a quick buck. Whether this may destabilise the economy even more, is none of their problem!

Recession or not, profiteering goes on!

Indeed, regardless of the recession, the profit machine has never stopped. After all, even when markets are falling through the floor, huge profits can be made - the only difference is just that there are fewer winners!

Neither does the recession mean that the capitalists have become "poor" overnight. Even without Brown's enormous bailout, the wealth of the capitalist class is so huge that a 30% cut - assuming it was all in shares - would still leave them with more than enough to embark on further mind-boggling speculation. And this is exactly what they indulge in.

Besides, there are those whose profits still reflect the gains they made out of the speculative bubbles, before they burst. For instance, both Shell and BP made over £6bn profits in the 3rd quarter of this year - and this represents a mere 74% increase over the previous year for Shell and a 145% increase for BP! The oil giants are hardly hit, are they?

Of course, we are told that Shell and BP are "special cases", because oil is a "special case". But is it? Wasn't the astronomical rise of oil prices also the result of a speculative bubble which the oil giants helped to create? In addition, who are the big shareholders of Shell and BP, if not the same big shareholders who control the banks and the City? With one hand they help themselves out of our pockets through petrol price rises and, with the other, they help themselves out of public funds - i.e. out of our pockets again - thanks to Brown's bailout!

But such big money flowing into the coffers of the capitalist class does not stop the bosses from whining that they cannot make ends meet without depriving us of our jobs or cutting our wages!

Hands off our jobs and wages!

So, if the working class is in the same boat as the capitalist class in this recession, it a sinking ship in which we are baling the water out, while paying for the capitalists' champagne. Not only did the capitalists get Brown's bailout - and will not have to pay for it - but they can shift their funds to more profitable places. Hence the on-going speculation on shares as well as on food and oil, for instance.

Unlike the bosses, we cannot shift our only source of income - our jobs - as we please. Nor can we shift our contributions, which are at risk, out of pension funds which keep getting depleted by the fall in share prices, and/or are under threat of being closed down.

We cannot escape either, from the housing crisis nor from the cutbacks which begin to emerge in the government's plans - like transport cuts which have just been announced. Nor can we possibly not feel concerned by Brown's cynical plan to cut benefit for 1m disabled claimants, under the pretext of "helping them back to work", at a time when even able-bodied workers cannot find a decent job!

We have no option other than to defend what we have and to defend it without yielding to the bosses' and government's blackmail. Thus, it is a lie to say that we have to choose between job cuts and a wage cut, as the JCB workers were told by their union leaders. Such leaders are siding with the bosses and should be seen for what they are.

The working class needs to fight for decent wages and pensions for all, which keep up with real inflation and bills. We need to oppose any job cuts, including those of temps, because every one of us needs to make a living. If there is too little work, it should just be shared out between everyone without loss of wage. We also need to force this government to embark on the large-scale public programs needed to resolve the housing shortage and modernise deteriorating public infrastructure.

The money is there, in the coffers of the capitalists and if they get enough of a fright, they will rush to provide it. Ultimately, the safest way out of this recession is for the working class to take the lead in the struggle of the overwhelming majority of society against the greed of the tiny capitalist minority. Not only is this the best way forward, it is also our only option.