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Issue #1593      May 15, 2013

Editorial

The winds of change

In Australia and in all capitalist countries, employers and reactionary political forces are carrying out increasingly vicious attacks on the working class and its allies. The immediate targets are wages and conditions and jobs. However, their aim is not limited to these direct economic objectives but the broader rights and freedoms of working people.

The capitalist economic system is in deep trouble and none of the schemes of the economists and politicians are going to solve the problems. Austerity programs, such as the one that will be revealed in this week’s federal budget, confirm there is no way out; not within the system.

But the winds of change are blowing in all corners of the earth. In Latin America, Asia and Africa as examples, political and economic ties are being forged. Different paths are being prepared. The leaders of the capitalist states know the way the wind is blowing and they are determined to make workers pay for the deepening global crisis.

If the working class and the organisations which give political leadership are to fulfil their responsibilities, the scope and intent of the employer offensive has to be realised.

The employers speak at times with several voices. However it would be a mistake to assume that their different approaches indicate they have different objectives. The mantle of democracy and freedom that covers the system is being pulled away.

In line with this strategy, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey recently outlined plans to “wind back universal access to payments”. Hockey talks of enforcing a “culture of self-reliance” by cutting welfare to the bone. “Addressing the ongoing fiscal crisis will involve the winding back of universal access to payments and entitlements from the state,” Hockey said. Flagging the creation of an army of cheap labour he announced that “ ... this will require the redefining of the concept of mutual obligation.”

This, in turn, would require “a significant overhaul” of Centrelink, Medicare and other service delivery agencies.

This is a vision of the corporate state.

While the working class must differentiate between the policies and tactics being used by employers and their political lap dogs, it can only rely on its own strength and organisation, along with that of its allies, to develop the struggle against this offensive.

That is why it is essential that the fight-back becomes stronger and broader. This is the seed from which a mighty working class counter attack will grow. One of the first things, however, is to realise the far-reaching and serious intentions of the employers to tie the hands of workers and their organisations, in the first place the trade unions.

Events in Syria

Developments in Syria have accelerated. Government forces have scored significant victories. US President Barack Obama has given his blessing for Israeli fighter jets to attack Syria on three occasions. Initially the US was hoping for a rapid regime change along the lines of Libya but Russia and China put an immediate stop to that; a major blow to short-term US imperialist designs in the region.

Things have now reached a point where the US and the forces it is supporting are in no position to be demanding anything in Syria. The so called “rebels”, whose “leaders” wander around international capitals attending conferences and making grand speeches, are not leading anyone.

The US is now completely dependent on using the threat of annihilation. As its economic power declines in relation to China and other rising powers, the economic carrot has been tossed aside in favour of the military stick.

The US is now willing to risk an escalating regional war that could include Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Israel, Iran, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The fate of the Middle East is hanging in the balance.

Next article – Thales workers’ victory

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