We live in strange times where big changes are in the air. The current economic crisis has exposed the madness at the heart of our system.
During the Celtic Tiger, a tiny minority enriched themselves without the slightest care for society. Between 1995 and 2007, the top 1 percent of the Irish population increased their wealth by €75 billion.
But when the recession hit, the government rushed in to support these same people. Billions were spent to bail out the banks while both the Fianna Fail-Green and Fine Gael-Labour governments attacked workers and the poor.
Each year, for example, we pay out €3.1 billion to the bondholders of Anglo-Irish Bank. The ruling class have withdrawn their funds and staged an ‘investment strike’ which has led to mass unemployment.
In the four years since the recession began, investment in the Irish economy has declined by over 70% and many now face the prospect of a return to the emigrant ship.
But, according to the Taxation Institute, the average household is losing €6,000 a year to these attacks, because we are footing the bill. The rich show no gratitude for the generosity of the Irish people.
The reality is that modern capitalism is run by a business class who operate behind the scenes. They make sure that government policies suit their interests.
From The Local To The Global
There are huge levels of inequality in our present global system. Three billionaires, for example, own more than the whole population of sub-Saharan Africa. Giant multinational firms like General Motors, which are worth twice as much as the Irish economy, dominate our lives.
This system has entered its greatest economic crisis since the 1930s. This crisis has occurred because of the very logic of capitalism.
We are being bled dry to prop up a crazy system. Money dictates how all the important decisions are made. Wealthy business people blackmail governments by threatening to move their companies elsewhere.
They form close networks with the top politicians to promote the message that ‘what is good for business is good for the country’. At a global level, the wealthy people who run hedge funds hide behind ratings agencies and downgrade countries. In recent times, they have targeted countries like Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy and demanded tougher austerity policies.
Increasingly, they get rid of all pretence of democracy and replace elected governments with their favourite technocrats. Italy, for example is now run by bankers, right wing economists and diplomats.
We’re told this is because ‘The Markets’ were not confident that the last prime minister could implement enough austerity.
All of this shows that parliaments do not hold the real power in this society. Most of the decisions which affect our daily lives are now made in the boardrooms of big business.
We, therefore, cannot rely on a purely electoral strategy to bring change.
So the Socialist Workers Party points instead to the power of workers to bring change from below. Our fundamental belief is that socialism must come from the self-emancipation of working people. It cannot be handed down from on high -it must be taken by a movement from below.
We need to be organised to get socialism because those who run this system already are. They use the state machinery to crack down on workers struggle. They control the media and use it to spread ideas, which divide workers.
But despite a high level of control, people invariably enter struggles against their rulers. These struggles manifest themselves in all sorts of ways. Most directly, it involves workers fighting for better wages and conditions. But it also involves struggles over water charges, or resistance to evictions or student fees.
What is Socialism?
Socialism means that production is based on human need and is not designed to satisfy the greed of the few. Instead of large factories and offices being run by private individuals whose sole interest is profit, they would be controlled by those who do the work.
Socialism involves a huge extension of democracy. Under capitalism, you get to vote every four years. But under socialism, democratic decision making would be part of everyday life. Instead of just political democracy, there would be economic democracy too.
We would have a say in how our jobs and colleges are organised. We would have regular assemblies to discuss and plan how our organisations are run. We would be able to elect co-ordinators to help organise our activities rather than being subject to the dictatorial whims of bosses.
When the majority of people get to control the economy, much of the insanity that comes with capitalism can be eliminated. The multinationals would not be allowed to dictate what we eat by producing genetically modified food. High priced branded drugs would be replaced by cheaper generic varieties. The debts of underdeveloped countries in Africa and Asia would be cancelled.
Socialism also means co-operation rather than endless competition. Instead of wasting our resources of advertising and marketing, we would share information to produce better quality goods and services. There would be no need to produce goods that have a ‘built in obsolescence’. Under capitalism, washing machines, cars, and most electrical goods eventually break down and need replacement. Under socialism, they would be built to last because it is no longer about profit.
The aim of the Socialist Workers Party is to link these struggles into a challenge to
capitalism itself. We are living in at a time when revolution is in the air. The
Arab Spring has already overthrown dictators like Mubarak in Egypt and there is
now a fight for economic justice.
Every week, images jump out of our television screens of people confronting riot police. Sometimes the images come from the streets of Athens and at other times they come from the Occupy movement in the USA.
The aim of the Socialist Workers Party is to bring this tide of global revolt to Ireland.
What Socialists Do:
We build demonstrations, protests, and campaigns to promote people power.We are active in campaigns against household charges, the property tax and in defence of public services. We advocate non-payment of these charges and mass mobilisation through street protests.
We have helped to initiate and build many demonstrations. We were at the heart of the anti-war movement that challenged the presence of U.S. troops in Shannon airport.
We helped build Right to Work protests to the Dail to highlight the plight of the unemployed.
We build solidarity with the people of Palestine and the Middle East revolutions.
We stand for elections as part of People Before Profit and the United Left Alliance.
Our aim is to create a broad, radical left which replaces Labour and Sinn Fein as the main organisation of workers.
People Before Profit and the United Left Alliance is the first step in this. There are currently three United Left Alliance TDs in Dail Eireann, including Richard Boyd Barrett, who is a member of the SWP.
We seek to use the Dail and the council chambers to expose the powerful and to mobilise people in opposition to them.
We argue for solidarity action between workers and oppose the idea of social partnership. We press for the election of all union officials and argue they should be paid no more than the members they represent. We want to replace the current crop of ICTU leaders with workers who are willing to take a fight to the employers.
We want to take back the unions from bureaucrats who sell out and turn them into fighting organisations for workers. We organise in universities against college fees and turning colleges into knowledge factories that serve big business.
The SWP is the most active political organisation in many campuses. At all times we stress the need for students to link up with struggles outside the colleges. We believe that education is a right – not a privilege – and that third level institutions should be opened up to far more working class people.
We are opposed to large corporations dictating what is researched and turning universities into profit zones.
We stand up against all forms of oppression.
In all of these activities socialists stand out as opponents of oppression. Capitalism tries to convince one group that they are superior to others.
So Northern Ireland was supposed to be ‘a Protestant state for a Protestant people’.
Refugees and asylum seekers are presented as outsiders who ‘sponge’ off the ‘Irish community’. And people are encouraged to believe in traditional ‘family values’ where the man rules the house.
Socialists oppose all these forms of oppression because they divide and weaken workers.
How We Organise
The SWP is organised into local branches, which meet regularly. Becoming a member of the party means joining the fight against exploitation and oppression.
It entails distributing our literature, participating in the activities of the local branch and paying dues.
The SWP is open to all – no matter how tight their time constraints because of family or work. The main issue is having a commitment to do what you can to help bring about a society which puts people before profit.
Join Us: Text JOIN to 086 307 4060 Or online at www.swp.ie