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EDITORIAL An Independent Working Class Agenda – the workers’ way out of the crisis

Written by: CPA (M-L) on 1 May 2020


The capitalist ruling class never lets a good crisis go to waste. And the current economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.

As businesses feel the pinch of the economic shutdown, and the government spends big to keep the capitalist economy alive – on life support, but still breathing – the ruling class will put the burden of the crisis on the backs of the working people. “Privatise the gains, and socialise the losses” is their doctrine.

Already the bosses are using the health and economic crises to push hard for their long sought after changes to industrial relations and economic legislation. Jennifer Westacott, head of the Business Council of Australia, peak lobby group for imperialist big business in Australia, has called for the scrapping of “unnecessary red tape” in order “to make it easier to do business”. That’s a euphemism for doing away with anything that hinders profit making – union and workers’ rights, wages and conditions, health and safety, corporate taxes (they hardly pay any now!). And they are doing it all in the name of “getting Australia back to work”, an appetising prospect if you are one of the thousands of workers forced on to the dole queue recently.

But, like the “we are all in this together” rhetoric, it’s a crafty cover for the reality of the class system we live in. The virus might not discriminate, but capitalism does. As workers, if we are going to come out of this crisis with our heads held high as a class, then we need our own demands, our own priorities, and our own organisations to take up the fight. In short, we need an independent working class agenda and movement.

It must start from an understanding that as workers our interests are not the same as the interests of the capitalist ruling class and their institutions of class rule, like parliament and the courts. An independent working class agenda would not subordinate itself to the electoral interests of parliamentary parties (has anyone seen the “Opposition” lately?), nor would it line itself up with the interests of businesses to “keep the economy going”, something too many of the official trade union leadership have been doing.

It would demand the nationalisation of big businesses in such a way as to empower and benefit workers and the people, not tax-payer funded bailouts. It would place peoples’ health and the environment before profits. It would build unity of the people through solidarity and community based mutual aid.

It will require rank and file organising in work places often opposed by class collaborationist union leadership. It will require mass, militant, and sometimes illegal, action by large sections of workers – our victories have always come from waves of militant struggle on the jobs, in communities and in the streets.

Particular demands will change with different workplaces and communities, but the common thread must be the working class taking independent action to build its capacity to fight as a class in its own class interests.

This crisis is only just beginning, it has a very long way to go. The capitalist ruling class won’t let the opportunity go to waste to further its own interests. Nor should we!


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