Year 2000 No. 82, May 12, 2000

Rover Workers Will Continue to Have to Face and Provide Solutions to the Problems Caused by the Contradictions of Monopoly Capitalism

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Rover Workers Will Continue to Have to Face and Provide Solutions to the Problems Caused by the Contradictions of Monopoly Capitalism

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Rover Workers Will Continue to Have to Face and Provide Solutions to the Problems Caused by the Contradictions of Monopoly Capitalism

Commentary by Birmingham Branch of RCPB(ML)

In the wake of the deal struck between the Phoenix consortium and BMW there is still the question of how long this "solution" will stand up. The workers have waged a struggle to raise their consciousness of the problems that have confronted them and have started to deal with their marginalisation at a rudimentary level. In the long term the workers have still to combine with the rest of the class in order to deal with the question of developing their own political programme and constituting themselves as the nation.

They would be making a big mistake if even in the short term they were to believe that there is a coincidence of interests between the consortium and the workers. This kind of illusion has been promoted again and again at Longbridge, and generally throughout the working class. Not only has it led to workers reluctantly accepting increased attacks on their working conditions and their dignity on the basis that if they made compromises now then their future would be secure, with the capitalists’ logic that the competitive success of the enterprise in the cut-throat conditions of the global marketplace will mean prosperity for the workers. The bankruptcy of this logic has been shown time and time again. But also it has been so entrenched in the workers’ movement by the apologists for the monopolies that a real effort needs to be made by the workers to envision that they should develop their own programme and fight for their rights and interests with a clear conscience, without the fear that they would be contributing to the all-round crisis in the society if they were to do just that. There is no coincidence of interests and they would be taking up the question of providing solutions to the all-round crisis in the course of their struggles.

The problem of overproduction is affecting all car workers whether it is the 2,000-odd workers at Ford Dagenham, who are facing redundancy, or the many European or global car producers. The problems of producing cars, or any other products, in the global market are multi-faceted. The big car producing monopolies have been making arrangements for price fixing just like the oil producing cartels who have organised the recent fuel hikes at the petrol pumps. In Britain we can see the effect of holding high the prices of cars and many other goods on consumers. By far the most serious problem has been the capitalist overproduction crisis caused by the anarchy inherent in the capitalist mode of production.

Another enormous problem tied to overproduction is the effectiveness of the productive forces under the conditions of intense competition in the marketplace. Ford intends to consolidate their position as one of the world’s leading car producers by consolidating its European production. It aims to do this by downsizing some of its operations and removing car assembly from Dagenham. Each producer aims to maximise profits by destroying the competitors in the global marketplace. The overproduction crisis has exposed the true nature of the global market. In order to compete for a shrinking market the producers fine-tune production, develop the productive forces by technology and scientifically revolutionary techniques in the organisation of the production process. It is for this reason that the Phoenix consortium at Rover faces the ongoing problem of financing investment and is already thinking of linking up with another major transnational company.

If workers are to constitute themselves as the nation, then the issue of globalisation and the role of transnationals and multinational companies has to be taken up as a problem for solution. It is an issue of the workers themselves taking up a nation-building project and solving the problem of democracy, so that the concerns of the people are put at the centre of consideration and the direction of the economy changed. They are being told by advocates of the Third Way that they must accept that there is no alternative to operating in the global capitalist economy. The modern capitalist world is proving that only the major players can afford to stay in business and those that cannot play, including whole national economies, will go under. Under this system, the governments are but the salespeople of the monopolies, whose whole mission in life is to organise society so it serves the monopolies and then sell the project to the workers that they cannot do without them. That being competitive in the global marketplace benefits the national economy and guarantees jobs is one salespitch. However, this does not wash, and this does not just apply to car production.

Instead, socialist planning of the national economy on the basis of producing what is needed for the people’s well-being at the highest possible level is what is called for. Trade with other countries can be carried out not on the basis of capturing and dominating markets but on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. In line with this aim, demands can be put forward right now that more should be put into the economy than is taken out through paying the rich, through speculation, the extraction of maximum capitalist profit, cut-backs in social programmes, payment of interest on the national debt, and so forth. In order that trade can be carried out with the needs of the people at the centre, demands can be made that national and international trade be nationalised. The banks and financial institutions should be forced to serve the economy rather than being the tools of the financial oligarchy to amass enormous wealth and to call the tune that all the society must follow. The workers, as internationalists, can give material and moral support to all fellow workers fighting for the same internationally and to the peoples of the world who are fighting to choose their own paths of development. In particular, they can reject the chauvinist and dangerous clap-trap that Britain has a moral duty to intervene globally and dictate to others what course their countries should take and that only "British" values have any validity.

The workers are in the frontline of the productive process, producing the wealth in an ever more efficient and productive way. Rover and Ford workers have had to deal with this competition issue long enough to know this fact. It is because of the highly structured and disciplined way that they have to produce that makes them their own effective problem. Overproduction at the factory level is caused because of this very factor; the anarchy in the marketplace is caused by the constant vicious nature of monopoly capitalist competition.

It is high time that the national economy ceased to be subject to the pressures of global market forces and that also includes the political and economic trade blocs such as the EU that exist on such principles. To embark on solving this problem, the workers cannot afford to go back to sleep now the Phoenix Consortium is running Rover and succumb to the call that what is good for Towers is good for them. The same is true for the Ford Dagenham workers who are just about to begin one more battle for their livelihoods. They must proactively get together to set their own agenda, to take up their own pro-social programme to lead society out of the crisis, secure in the conviction that it lies in their hands to create a new society without anarchy and chaos, without crisis and without the exploitation of persons by persons nationally and internationally.

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