Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Global protests over food prices, low wages

From our website:

Members of a union representing the workers of the indigenous Kanak population in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia have been forcibly removed by local police for blocking entry to more than two dozen businesses, according to a report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). The workers were protesting for the right to strike after several union members had previously been punished for similar work stoppages.

The ABC report mentioned the claim of the local French employer's group, Medef, that "the workers were punished for unjustified absences from work during an illegal strike," and added that "In January, about 30 people were hurt when clashes erupted after police used tear gas and rubber bullets to break up a strike by transport workers."

In another news piece, from just a few days earlier, we learn that law enforcers in New Caledonia are to soon be equipped with electric shock "taser" guns: "Oceania Flash reports the first law enforcers to be equipped with tasers will be police agents and gendarmes military intervention groups."

Turning to Bangladesh, this past Saturday near the capital Dhaka about 20,000 workers rioted over high food prices and low wages. According to police chief Bhuiyan Mahbub Hasan, quoted in a news report, "About 20,000 textile workers from more than a dozen factories went on the rampage in Fatullah, 20 kilometres (12 miles) south of Dhaka, demanding better pay amid soaring rice prices."

These are just two examples of a string of protests and actions happening across the globe over rising food prices and low wages—in the South Pacific islands, other parts of Asia, Haiti, throughout Africa, and elsewhere. Head of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick has stated that the rapid rise in food prices could push 100 million people in poor countries deeper into poverty, and has called for a "new deal" to boost monetary aid and agricultural policy to these countries affected by the rising food costs. However, no amount of scams, schemes, or "new deals" offered by the idle, parasitic capitalist class are going to solve or even truly alleviate these problems, as they arise from the very nature of capitalism itself.

Socialists have long contended that that the ability already exists to produce an abundance over what is necessary to feed the global population. The problem is the current economic system, which is based on the private ownership of the means of life and the production using these means for the sake of profit, rather than human needs. As our fellow workers across the globe react to confront the encroachments of a chaotic economic system, they are met with violent resistance by the owning classes, highlighting the true nature of a class-divided society. What is required is an understanding by the majority of workers of the true nature of the current system of production, and an understanding of and desire to replace it with a more just system of common ownership, which we call "socialism."

"Naturally," as Engels wrote in The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844, "the workers are perfectly free; the manufacturer does not force them to take his materials and cards, but he says to them: 'If you don't like to be frizzled in my frying-pan, you can take a walk into the fire."


No comments: