The actual purpose of the “reforms” was to break the back of the workers movement in order to prevent any resistance to an economic and social programme that substantially increased the share of wealth going to the rich. From that viewpoint the reforms were a success.
The real purpose may of course not be the stated purpose. Alan Budd, a former adviser to Britain’s Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wrote about his role in implementing very similar policies to those in New Zealand: “The nightmare I sometimes have about this whole experience runs as follows: I was involved in making a number of proposals which were partly at least adopted by the government and put into play by the government. My worry is as follows; that there may have been people making the actual policy decisions, or people behind them, or people behind them, who never believed for a moment that this was the correct way to bring down inflation. They did however see that this would be a very good way to raise unemployment. And raising unemployment was an extremely desirable way of reducing the strength of the working classes; if you like, that what was engineered here – in Marxist terms – was a crisis of capitalism which recreated the reserve army of labour.” The “reserve army of labour” being a reference to mass unemployment being used as a weapon to break the power of organized workers.
As the billionaire Warren Buffett once quipped: "There’s class warfare, all right – but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning." Indeed.
Mr Buffett made the comment in a 2006 New York Times article after discovering that even with his "immense income" from dividends and capital gains, he "paid far, far less as a fraction of his income than the secretaries or the clerks of anyone else in his office … ‘How can this be fair?"’But Mr Buffet as a money capitalist is governed by the laws of his system to accumulate as much as possible as rapidly as possible. His class ensures the political and state system serves their interests. Therefore the class war will continue – however “unfair” it may be to his sensibilities. As the financial crisis becomes a system crisis for European countries there has been a massive escalation in class war launched against working people in Greece, Romania, Latvia with 10-30% wage cuts and the radical reduction in all forms of social protections. The rest of Europe will likely follow with lesser or greater intensity. But working people will be made to pay the price. The only question is, will this be a one-sided class war of neo-liberal measures by the capitalist class? Or will it be a two-sided class war with the workers fighting back? It is here that the Greek workers and their allies among the working farmers and the urban middle classes are showing the way forward.
(Part of a series of extracts from “Exposing Right Wing Lies” by Mike Treen, Unite National Director)