Control Over Our Lives and Work Is a Major Issue
Events in the twenty-first century point to a dominant issue: the British working class does not have control over the issues that affect the lives of workers. No matter what the talk may be of how Britain is democratic, when things happen that directly affect the lives of individuals and their collectives, the people affected feel powerless to control the events. When workplaces close; when collectives of workers are downsized; when work is outsourced; when pensions, benefits and wages are reduced or eliminated altogether; when employment and post-secondary educational opportunities are blocked; when this or that disaster strikes either individuals or collectives, how can we speak of democracy for the people if the people affected have no control or right to change the situation in any meaningful way.
When the people have no control over the economy, over their work and other big issues in their lives other than to be told to suck it up, fend for themselves and as individuals make the best of a bad situation, then all this indicates in a forceful manner that the time is now for democratic renewal. It is time to bring politics and economics into the twenty-first century; time for the working people to have control over their lives and work, and not be dictated to and controlled by a small clique who act based on their narrow private interests and not in the broad public interest for the greater good of the people.
The big issues are easy to identify and most relate to economic security:
– security of employment;
– security of well-being when unemployed or unable to work for whatever reason;
– security in retirement;
– security of having quality food, public health care, education and all the other social programmes and public services necessary in a modern collective society;
– security of knowing that through work and contributing to one’s personal well-being through work in the socialised economy one is also contributing to society and the security of all including oneself under all circumstances.
Without economic security of the person and no capacity to affect the situation in a meaningful way, then all talk of democracy and rights is empty chatter.
People live in cities of considerable size or in regions where natural resources are exploited. The economy is organised as one huge collective with interrelated parts. How then can we look at the individual workplaces as isolated or unrelated from other workplaces and the large collective of workplaces? The ruling elite in control want the working class to think and view the individual workplaces in competition with each other in some sort of wild desperate fight for survival of the fittest. But this is not the Wild West; this is not the jungle. The economy is a collective organism and each part of the organism plays a role in strengthening the whole; and in that way, the parts of the organism are strengthened making the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
At least that is how a modern socialized economy should work. But it does not, because of the interference and obstruction of the most powerful companies fighting to build their private empires in competition with other empires at the expense of the whole. The striving for empire weakens the whole and eventually weakens most of the various parts as they fight with one another instead of cooperating and sorting out how best to work together for the greater good and success of the whole. The result is individual tragedies of certain parts and recurring general economic crises and war, where the people pay the price for the anarchy and violence.
The working class is the only social force capable of strengthening the various parts of the economy and their relations with each other and with the whole for the greater good. In this way, the working class can then mobilize the collective strength of the modern socialised economy to ensure the security, rights and well-being of all. The issue of gaining control over the issues affecting our lives is one of organising to deprive those social forces of the power to deprive the people of their right to control their lives and work. The working class is the social force that can bring into being the forms and relations necessary for individuals and their collectives to gain control through the power to deprive the ruling elite of their power to deprive.