Owen Jones: If trade unions don’t fight the workers’ corner – others will – Commentators – Opinion – The Independent
Sunday March 4, 2012 2:45 pm Leave a comment
This article touches on what I touched on the other day, when I suggested that it was a bad idea to seek (in Chicago) a physical confrontation with the world’s best armed military state. Shutting down Chicago (during the forthcoming NATO and G8 summits – at which the world’s elite will discuss how best to manage our continuing decline) is a fine strategic aim, but we need to consider a more intelligent way to pursue it than by giving the state employed bullies a “legitimate” excuse to crack heads.
The victory over the UK Government’s Workfare scheme is an example of such intelligence, whereas McCluskey’s ill thought out suggestion of targeting the Olympics is an example of how the working class generals remain adept at leading us into the valley of death.
Bad publicity frightens capitalists because it can turn customers away from their doors. That’s all it took to force the retail giants to tell the State to back down and the government had no choice because it required the co-operation of those employers in order to be able to offer ANY “work experience” placements to young unemployed teenagers. The fact that the SWP were involved is irrelevant; though kudos to them for recognising a viable strategy. It’s the strategy that matters, not who implemented it.
In contrast, the Olympics are a major component of the Bread and Circuses package with which the masses are tranquillised with entertainment into tolerance of their submissive state. If that tranquilliser is interfered with, the first target in the eyes of the huddled masses is not going to be the State who set up the Circus, it will be the activists who are trying to prevent the citizens from enjoying it. This should be self evident to anyone with an IQ exceeding their shoe size.
So why are UK Trade Unions still led by such tactically challenged idiots? You’d have thought that the evolutionary pressures of the Miners’ defeat, Thatcherite dismantling of sundry “Rights” like secondary pickets, supportive strike action, strikes without ballots, selective attacks on trade union membership etc would have pensioned off the Scargill tendency and ushered in a more canny wave of intelligent activists who knew how to subvert the system rather than take it on with a frontal assault.
Having spent nearly 40 years myself somewhere on the fringe of the UK Trade Union movement, I can offer a partial explanation and it’s rather depressing. Because the Trade Union movement has no real understanding of Democracy (it apes the electoral politics of the Capitalist system it professes to challenge) it has no means of recognising and adopting intelligent policies. Instead, power battles with the Trade Union movement are very similar to the ego driven battles to gain control of the national political parties.
However, though political parties appear to gain nominal control of the country after the “bewildered herd” elect them, they have the major advantage that the people who really run things (the “owners”) will tell them what they can and cannot do. Occasionally such advice is sound and gives the illusion, albeit rarely, that politicians are occasionally competent.
Trade Union leaders have no such obvious experienced external puppeteers and thus have to learn their limitations the hard way by trial and error. Which wouldn’t be so bad if they demonstrated the intellectual capacity to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors. Sadly, no such intelligence has yet surfaced within the ranks of “electable” activists…