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« 麻野進『部下に残業をさせない課長が密かにやっていること』 | トップページ | EU労働法研究の次代を担う人 »

2017年3月17日 (金)





Asbjrnwahl例によって、ソーシャル・ヨーロッパ・マガジンには、「反動的労働者階級?」(Reactionary Working Class?)という刺激的な論考が載っています。


Large parts of the western working class now seem to congregate around right-wing populists, demagogues and racists. They vote for reactionary and fascistic political parties. They helped to vote the UK out of the EU, to make Trump US president, and they give such massive backing to far-right political parties that these have power in sight in several of Europe’s most populous countries.


Since working people are traditionally expected to vote for the left, this creates unrest, insecurity and confusion among experts as well as commentators and mainstream politicians – particularly in the labour movement. There is no lack of moralizing condemnation of those who go to the far right. An increasing number of commentators, however, are now beginning to suspect that this shift may be an expression of protest against the prevailing state of society. Not all have benefitted from the globalization success story, they say.


Many politicians and activists on the left have great difficulties orienting themselves on this new political terrain. People who otherwise would have been for Britain’s withdrawal from the authoritarian, neoliberal EU, for example, have told me that they voted to stay, “not to be made cannon fodder for the racists and anti-immigration forces in the Brexit camp.” Thus, they left it to the far right to voice the necessary opposition to the anti-social, anti-union policies of the EU.


Maybe it would have been more important and more helpful if the left had taken a somewhat more self-critical look at their own role and policies. Could it be that they have failed their constituencies, that left parties are not seen as dependable tools to defend the interests of those who have the least power and wealth in today’s society? Perhaps there has been too much identity politics and very little class politics. Can it even be that the left’s social analysis fails to grasp the essential reality of the current economic and political state-of-play?


What most people on the left can agree on is that the situation is serious, even dramatic. In Europe, the level of unionization has almost halved over the last 30 years, and labour rights, labour laws and collective agreements have systematically deteriorated and/or been completely abolished. Most things are worse than here in Norway, but that does not mean that we are unaffected by this development. There is no doubt that Norway is still on the upper deck of the global welfare ship, but much indicates that it is the upper deck of Titanic.


In short, inequalities in society are increasing here too, more authoritarian relations are emerging at the workplaces, including through an Americanisation of organisational and management models. Wage growth for those at the bottom of the ladder has stagnated.


At the same time, we experience more and more offensive and aggressive employers, who, among other things, escape an employer’s responsibility through outsourcing and the increasing use of temporary agency workers – weakening trade unions. Furthermore, employers strongly benefit from the ever more anti-trade union policies of the EU/EEA and their courts. Work is increasingly emptied of content in many parts of the labour market. It is becoming more and more fragmented and standardized, employees are being subjected to increased monitoring, control and management – and work intensity is increasing.


In addition, welfare-to-work ideology contributes strongly to shifting attention from organizational structures and power relations to individualization – with moralizing, suspicion and a brutal sanctions regime against individuals.


・・・In Europe, it becomes increasingly clear that important goals of this policy are to get rid of welfare states and defeat the trade unions. This is indeed what is taking place – under political leadership of the EU Institutions. That millions upon millions of workers worldwide become “losers” in this process of globalization should not surprise anyone. Nor that they will eventually react with mistrust, rage and blind rebellion. That part of the working class, given the absence of left political parties with analyses, policies and strategies to address and meet this crisis and offensive of capitalist forces, is attracted by the extreme right’s verbal anti-elitism and anti-establishment rhetoric, is against this background understandable.


・・・The reality is that worker’s exploitation, increasing powerlessness and subordination now hardly command a voice in public debate. Labour parties have mainly cut the links with their old constituencies. Rather than picking up the discontent generated in a more brutal labour market, politicizing it and channelling it into an organized interest-based struggle, middle class left parties offer little else than moralizing and contempt. Thus, they do little else than push large groups of workers into the arms of the far-right parties, which support all the discontent and do their best to channel people’s rage against other social groups (immigrants, Muslims, gays, people with different colour, etc.) rather than against the real causes of the problems.


・・・In summary, the balance of power at workplaces has shifted dramatically – from labour to capital, from trade unions and democratic bodies to multinational companies and financial institutions. Over a few decades, capitalist interests have managed to abolish the main regulations that made the welfare state and the Nordic Model possible; international monetary cooperation, capital controls and other market regulations. In this situation, social partnership ideology constitutes a barrier to trade union and political struggle.


The left’s main challenge today is to organize resistance against this development. Only in this way can right-wing populism and radicalism be pushed back at the same time. Once again, we must be able to construct the vision of a promised land – i.e. perspectives of a better society, a society with a radical redistribution of wealth, where exploitation ends and where human needs form the basis for social development. If so, statements, protests and appeals to a tripartite cooperation that is constantly drained of content will not suffice. It is all about power – economic and political power. This will require massive social mobilization – in the way that trade unions built their strength to win power and influence at the beginning of the last century. Are we prepared for that?



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この記事へのトラックバック一覧です: 反動的労働者階級?:

« 麻野進『部下に残業をさせない課長が密かにやっていること』 | トップページ | EU労働法研究の次代を担う人 »