Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Still dividing, still ruling


Divide and rule is probably the oldest trick in the book for the ruling elite, yet still they get away with it. It is such an obvious trick that one might think people would start to see through it, but enough people seem to fall for it every time to allow the elite to maintain their grip on society. Control of the media is clearly a part of the trick, but the gullibility of large numbers is probably more important. And social media – which theoretically provide an opportunity for alternative views to those expressed in the main stream media – are filled with the views of the gullible, acting as willing shills in their own oppression. The rail dispute is more complex than much of the more simplistic reporting suggests; arguments over the replacement of people with technology and new working methods are in the mix as well as the pay dispute as such. But at the heart of the dispute is an argument over whether holding down pay – and thus imposing a real cut in living standards – on working people is the only or even the best way to prevent a wage-price inflation spiral.

The first problem with even presenting it in that way is that current inflation is not the result of a wage-price spiral at all. It’s understandable that those who remember the inflation of the late 1970s would be keen not to return there, although it’s just possible that a government whose whole approach depends on expecting people to forget what they’ve done in the last 12 years might be pinning rather a lot of its hopes on people remembering what happened almost half a century ago and being suitably afraid as a result. The point, though, is that the causes of inflation now are rather different; even if the solution was the right one in the 1980s (itself highly debateable), it doesn’t follow that it’s the right one today.

The government are largely getting away with framing the terms of the argument, and Labour’s absolute terror of being seen to be supporting working people defending their standard of living is a complete gift to the Tories. Not only does it reinforce the Tory framing of the dispute, it also assists Tory stereotypes about the evil trades unions and alienates Labour from many of its own members and supporters. Dominic Raab has told us today that the government (which claims not to be a party to the dispute or to have any role in its resolution) “can’t allow … the unions … to win this argument”, as though ‘the unions’ are somehow an entity completely different from and divorced from the working people they represent. The Tory line is accompanied by misleadingly selected figures about how much the employees in dispute currently earn, in an attempt to suggest that they don’t ‘need’ an increase at all – a dishonest way of stating that they must accept a cut in living standards. The figures have, of course, been seized upon and repeated ad nauseum by people complaining that they (or nurses or some other ‘deserving’ group) earn less and aren’t getting a pay rise at all. They’ve been conned into a silly and ultimately self-defeating argument which focuses their ire on a different group of working people rather than on those who are orchestrating the attack on living standards.

It's true, of course, that some people earn less than some rail workers. It’s true, equally, that some of those lower paid people will get a wage rise lower than that asked for by the rail workers. It’s true that there may be some unfairness in both of those things. But extrapolating those facts to an argument that rail salaries must not be allowed to keep pace with inflation is an argument which justifies and supports the attack on their own living standards. Their ire would be better directed at those who are doing very well out of the misnamed ‘cost-of-living crisis’; the bankers gaining as a result of interest rate rises which generate extra profits for no extra work, or the oil giants benefiting from a wholly speculative price increase when their costs of extraction have changed not one iota. And, of course, the speculators and gamblers who so heavily fund the Tory Party. Just what does it take for the working people criticising the rail strike to realise that their own interests align more closely with those of the rail workers than those feeding them the lies?

1 comment:

dafis said...

A succinct statement from someone on Twitter earlier gives Boris a simple solution to the cost of living crisis which would in turn serve to soften Trade Unions' pay claims.

1. Scrap green levy, reduce fuel tax & scrap VAT on domestic fuel would help control inflation.

2. Domestic fuel and utilities, transport, & food are behind about 60% of UK inflation which is 9.1%.

3. Government can act, increasing interest rates does not fix supply-side inflation.

it’s so self evident yet the criminals and ideologues who run government will stick with the current galloping inflation just to drive up their revenues via taxes, duties, VAT etc. And that green levy is a super way of feathering the nests of their friends in the big globalist corporates.Big retailers are using "increased transport/distribution costs as reason for disproportionate increases in price of foods and other consumer goods. So all the usual vested interests are mouthing platitudes which privately celebrating this "readjustment". Slavery beckons.