John Riddell: Democracy in Lenin's Comintern

How did Communist parties handle issues of internal discipline and democracy in Lenin’s time? The recent intense discussion within the British Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) and beyond has heard claims that the SWP rests on the traditions of democratic centralism inherited from the Bolsheviks.

John Riddell: Democracy in Lenin's Comintern

Richard Atkinson: Death and the Bedroom Tax

Some extended thoughts about Stephanie Bottrill, the woman who committed suicide because of the bedroom tax.

Richard Atkinson: Death and the Bedroom Tax

Dave Renton: Who Was Blair Peach?

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the killing of Blair Peach by the police. David Renton looks back at Blair Peach’s life as a poet, trade unionist and committed antifascist

Dave Renton: Who Was Blair Peach?

Bunny La Roche: Nasty Little Nigel gets a rude welcome to Kent

Bunny La Roche of RS21 on Nigel Farage's visit to Kent

Bunny La Roche: Nasty Little Nigel gets a rude welcome to Kent

Financial Appeal

We're up and running! An appeal for funds to kickstart the IS Network

Financial Appeal

Some arguments about the UK government's welfare reform programme - They are looking to create a low waged, unskilled, precarious workforce

 

8. They are looking to create a low waged, unskilled, precarious workforce

That’s forever incidentally, if they get their way, and not just for young people. And it’s for nearly everyone - middle class professionals and the skilled working class not excluded. This is only in small part a result of globalisation; in greater part it is about automation reducing the need for human labour, skilled labour especially, everywhere in the world (so it isn’t a trend that can be reversed by ‘reshoring’ as the Greens like to imagine). The drive to automation, and simple, tightly specified, repetitive procedures in those areas that cannot be automated, is relentless. From teachers and university lecturers facing replacement with unskilled assistants simply following prescribed textbooks, to train drivers and signallers displaced by automatic train operation, to law firms applying mass production techniques to litigation, capitalism no longer requires our skills and creativity; just that we follow procedures. Even in areas generally assumed to be the preserve of human labour - like the provision of care to other humans - automation strides on in the form of assistive technology. Not the least significant reason for the rise of ATOS was their use of computer based systems to bypass the role of expensive doctors in medical assessments.

They have made substantial progress. As David Renton almost pointed out, it seems likely (official statistics are inadequate to capture this) that something under half of the total population of working age is now in full time, secure, employment: the rest, the majority, being unemployed or otherwise inactive, self-employed, in part time work, or in variously casualised forms of full time employment. And the sustained fall in real earnings since 2010 is now underwritten by the guarantee of a workforce of millions forced into accepting any work available by Jobcentre sanctions.

At the same time they are enmeshing the wages system at every level with state provision and taxation. Fifty years ago the primary, often the only source of income for working class families was the wage packet or salary. They generally didn't pay much, if any, income tax out of this, just national insurance. Today for anyone on or below average wages, for anyone in rented accommodation, for anyone with children or a disability, their financial relationship with the state is likely to be as important - as determinative for their standard of living - as their wage - which is itself set by the state for anyone on or near minimum wage. Income Tax and NICs, Child Benefit, Tax Credits, Housing Benefit, council tax reductions, DLA, free nursery places, prescription charges, TV licences, free school meals, student loan repayments, care charges if a family member is disabled - and so on, and so on. All of which has to be claimed, every detail verified, every change reported.

A central aim of welfare reform is to is to enforce this new White Collar Taylorism. Jobcentres are the Board Schools of the day training people of all ages to submit to meaningless bureaucratic procedures, teaching by rote the infinite virtues of work, and handing out lessons in hunger and penury to any who will not submit. And Universal Credit will seal off all the exits.