A world we must win

REAL RADICAL CHANGE: we need to put people and planet before profit

by Ken Ferguson

· Voice readers will be familiar with that famous socialist slogan “workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains, you have a world to win.”

Well, as we face the triple crisis of Covid-19 (C-19), climate and jobs, the slogan urgently needs to change to, “A world you MUST win.”

In outlining why this is an unavoidable task it might first be good to survey what is before us after months of the C-19 emergency and what we can anticipate unfolding next.

As far as the virus is concerned there is a real danger that the growing chorus of the “It’s all over” refrain which is more based of wishful thinking than science will prevail and the danger of a second wave become a reality.

Indeed as the Voice heads to press the reimposed Leicester lockdown both punctures the largely Tory and media manufactured merriment over the C-19 “victory” and, much more seriously is a sombre warning that this is far from over.

Profit-making costs lives
We certainly know that there is still neither a vaccine or treatment for this killer disease which is still in both the UK and the rest of the planet posing an ongoing danger to life.

Of course a big part of the drive to sell the sunshine story that C-19 is beaten is pressure from the Tory right and their business backers to get back to work and profit making even, as some of them have said, this could entail a cost in human lives in any virus spike which results.

And of course this in turn directly links to the ever present and burgeoning climate emergency which, despite the blanket media domination of C-19 has not been in hibernation.

Pollution plummets
The fact that the shut down of industry and transport by road, air and rail saw dramatic falls in pollution both shows what can be done and underlines the need for permanent change in such basic services.

Not unaware of this politicians from the SNP, Labour and the Tories are all now chanting from the same mantra about the need for a “new normal” which is rather kinder and more productive than the old ways.

Before purchasing these plans however it is worth remembering that these self same politicians were entirely happy just a few short months ago to fully endorse the “old normal’ of footloose global capital, insecure work and poverty pay which was the foundation neoliberalism.

The Bible tells us that we should be welcoming the repenting sinner but at the Voice we think a sterner test needs to be applied. From the SNP we are offered a recovery plan by experts led by Chair of Buccleuch estates and former Tesco bank boss Benny Higgins which is filled with cosy buzz words but is very much a tweaked business as usual effort with little mention of the climate crisis or role for workers.

Scottish Labour make worthy noises about a National Care Service now being planned and the need for fair pay and unions for the care sector. But back at head office the purge of the left gathers pace and with it distance from the serious tools needed to tackle the jobs and climate crisis.

Jackson Carlaw’s Tories are now so loyal that they are just an echo chamber for “Butcher’s Dog” Boris plans to feed billions to construction firms that may or may not appear in what is not a New Deal but a greatly diluted deal.

After all, we have been here before, when David Cameron promised to solve the housing crisis by building 250,000 homes—but none appeared.

The truth is that all the mainstream parties share a fatal weakness, whatever their differences, that they think today’s people and planet emergency can be solved without real change. It cannot.

An interest based struggle
The C-19 pandemic has exposed many weaknesses and myths in our politics but the vast resources deployed to contain it surely kills forever the idea that the state is unable to change things for lack of money.

Faced with the C-19 disaster action was taken and unlike the mainstream market supporters in all parties the Voice and the SSP say that this must be a prelude to a sustained radical drive to clip the profiteers wings and construct a people and planet before profit Scotland.

The gravity of the economic and jobs slaughter which threatens poverty for millions running in parallel with a climate crisis which menaces life itself leaves no room for tinkering and demands serious change.

Humans, or at least the powerful among them, created the looming danger and possess the knowledge, skills and ability to reverse and change it but to do so we require a Herculean effort involving a massive movement challenging the elites with the working class at its core.

Much has been written in policy papers, seminars and conferences of policies which are grouped together as a Green New Deal.

People and planet
However if this demand is to gain the purchase needed to win it must recognise that it involves nothing less than a struggle for social power. At its centre is the need to break with an economy based on profit and move to one based on meeting the needs of people and planet.

It is clear that such an approach far from being a hairs shirt world of want would create thousands of skilled jobs, regular work and stable communities in a Socialist Green New Deal.

Such a programme would unite Scotland’s working class and the vast majority of those not part of the elite minority to both produce the means to gain a carbon-free economy, combat poverty and turn the tide on the climate crisis.

The economic and climate disaster which business as usual entails will destroy communities and it will lead to enormous social degradation.

It would further redistribute wealth from the bottom to the top, hugely increasing poverty and causing emigration crises of unknown dimensions.

Our struggle to avoid devastating climate change is therefore an important part of the interest-based struggle—the class struggle—over what kind of society we want.

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