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Class struggle works two ways

Written by: Nick G. on 17 June 2023


(During the intense class struggles of the 1890s, it was clear that either capital or labour must prevail in class struggle)

Whenever some minor economic reform that directly or indirectly benefits the working class is introduced, the capitalist class and its politicians allege that some form of antiquated class struggle has taken place.

Actually, there is nothing antiquated about it – it happens every day, and although we promote working class struggle, the ruling class turns it into a two-way street, taking measures against the well-being of the workers and intermediate strata in the interests of capital.

It can be summed up in the saying that “those who work do not get, those who get do not work”, meaning the capitalist exploits the surplus value of the worker at the point of production, and takes back for itself as much as possible of what is paid out as wages or welfare benefits.

We don’t shy away from discussion of class struggle. The doctrine of class struggle is the basis of Marxism, one of the fundamental points of historical materialism. The ruling class, on the other hand, tries its hardest to obscure its own class struggle against the people.  Its hypocrisy knows no bounds.

In a class society, prominent people are representatives of a certain class. Their role depends on the role of the class they represent.

The capitalist press has presented the Reserve Bank’s Philip Lowe as “the most hated man in Australia”. That may be the case, and it may be a justified view of the man. But without consciously knowing it, the media is propagating a form of historical idealism, focussing on an individual so as to channel public discussion away from the interplay of class forces. The attention is placed on the motive of this single individual rather than answering the question posed by Engels: “What kind of motivation is hidden behind these motives?”

A comrade tells us that his workmates discuss the interest rate rises as a direct transfer of wealth from the people to the banks. They sense that more is at play than the motives attributed to Lowe, namely the need to control inflation via interest rates.

Behind the Big Four banks are US financial institutions. A 2017 paper from the United States Study Centre at the University of New South Wales pointed out: “The Big 4 banks are heavily reliant on wholesale funding from US debt markets. Due to foreign exchange markets, the depth of US debt markets, and interest rate derivatives, the United States is the overwhelming source of that funding.” Thus, much of the finance capital issued by the Big Four banks is US capital which they have borrowed and which they must repay with interest.

The domination of Australian financial institutions by US finance capital drives the decisions of the Reserve Bank. This expresses the reality of Australian class struggle in circumstances of Australia’s subordination to US imperialism.

Another example: Foodbank has seen a 57% increase in people applying for free food in the first three months of this year. Although the recipients of free food continue to include the homeless and the unemployed, a major component of those seeking food aid is the working poor – people with jobs whose wages are insufficient to feed their families as well as paying rent or mortgage. The dire circumstances facing an increasing number of families is a consequence of the class struggle waged by the rich against the rest.

CEO salaries increased by around 15% over the last year, yet business leaders say that a 5.75% wage increase awarded to the lowest pad workers is outrageous, cannot be justified, and will be inflationary. These are the excuses they trot out to try and conceal the reality of their gains from the class struggle they wage for their own selfish ends.

Renters are at the mercy of speculators in housing, of people for whom housing is an investment and a source of personal gain. Their class position determines that they cannot see the private housing market, from which they are making money, as a human right and a social need. They see it in terms of individual property rights and have no compunction in using those rights to force renters onto the streets or into couch surfing or sleeping in cars. The interests of two opposing classes are at play. It was reported on the ABC’s The Drum that a landlord had just increased the weekly rent on a property from $600 a week to $800 a week. What worker has seen an equivalent rise in wages?

Working people must be encouraged to see class struggle as a two-way street, recognise the class struggle waged against them by the ruling class, and proudly embrace their own fight to end capitalist exploitation and social inequality.



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