The London student demo, violence and bourgeois hypocrisy

By Julian Samboma

Conservative co-chairman Baroness Warsi, speaking to the BBC hours after a student demo against the raising of tuition fees, said the violence which erupted outside her party HQ yesterday “certainly doesn't take the debate any further.”

She may have been right about that, given the Coalition have no intention of backing down.   The demonstration, numbering over 50,000 people, has highlighted the intense opposition to the Tory cuts, of which the three-fold tuition-fees-hike is but one.

And if the British student body have any say in the matter, this is only the beginning of what could turn out to be a “very heated” Winter of Discontent against the policies of the Conservative/Lib-Dem Coalition.

Campaign of Resistance

As student nataliebrook tweeted yesterday, “this is the biggest workers and students demonstration in decades. Just shows what can be done when people get angry. We must build on this."

While it was yesterday’s demo which grabbed the headlines, a campaign of resistance has been simmering in the background since August when the grassroots Coalition of Resistance was formed.  Yesterday’s events demonstrated that students were in the forefront of this struggle against the policies of the Coalition.

These policies, spearheaded by a government chockfull of millionaires, will cut over £80bn in government spending over the next four years, resulting in hardships for millions of working people and their families.

Ripples through the hobbled economy

The government’s own projections show that 500,000 jobs will be lost in the public sector.  However, the total number of jobs which will vanish because of the austerity measures will be far higher, as the sharp drop in purchasing power ripples through the hobbled economy. 

Some estimates say a total of 1.3m jobs will go, which translates as at least another half-a-million jobs vanishing in the private sector.  

What this actually means is that it is working people, the least well-off in society, who are paying to get the economy out of recession - and this after tax-payers’ money was used to bail out the bankers who caused the recession in the first place.

But instead of tightening the screws on the bankers and the rich tax evaders – who dodge taxes of over £70bn each year – this government of  are attacking working people.

18 people for every job vacancy

Consider the following: They cut public sector jobs, saying the private sector will make up for the shortfall; but their policies will result in the private sector itself shedding jobs, a fact well-known to them.

They claim there are jobs out there if people really wanted to work; but they know that an average 18 people are chasing every job vacancy in the country – and that the figure is bound to rise when their policies begin to bite harder.

They say that the unemployed don’t want to work; but they know that you can never have full employment under capitalism – and that their spare-the-rich policies are killing jobs, not creating them.

Working people weak and demoralised

They claim that doing manual work unrelated to your profession or career will make you a more attractive proposition to an employer – a claim which has been disproved by the government research.

Although resistance to the cuts may gain momentum, it is instructive to note that working people are weak and demoralised, with a leadership which cannot advocate an alternative that is qualitatively different to what’s presently on offer.

It cannot be otherwise when the interests of the aristocracy of labour, both within the unions and the Labour party itself, are vested in the maintenance of the status quo.

Bourgeois legality and respectability

The students may be the most militant segment ranged against the status quo, but it’s difficult to see how they can substitute for a vanguard in the present alignment of anti-capitalist forces.

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes or Marx to see that if the students get too militant they will be disowned by official labourism and sold down the road of bourgeois legality and respectability. 

Even as I write the Coalition have gone on the offensive, with an announcement this morning that unemployed workers refusing to do mandatory manual labour could lose their benefits for three years.  This has been followed by the police commissioner claiming that his forces were taken by surprise at yesterday’s demo; he went on to assure us that they will be prepared the next time.

Given the strength of feeling against the Tory cuts, the volatility of student demonstrators and the experience of past anti-capitalist demonstrations, it beggars belief that police -  with spies in every nook and cranny of society - were taken unawares.

Shedding crocodile tears for a building!

Now, dear reader, please don’t get me wrong; I abhor violence as much as the next person, which is why I was appalled by what happened.  But what really got to me was the cast of characters lining up to condemn the violence we saw on our screens.

Most of these were the self-same people who supported the imperialist slaughter of over one million Iraqis in 2003.  Then, they were all for the slaughter of innocent people as they slept in their beds, or cowered under them.  And here they were now, shedding crocodile tears for a building!

It put me in mind of a quote from Marx:  “The profound hypocrisy and inherent barbarism of bourgeois civilisation lies unveiled before our eyes, turning from its home, where it assumes respectable forms, to the colonies, where it goes naked.”