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Letter on Mayday
Dear Editor, I was given a copy of your paper at the Belfast Mayday rally and, after careful thought I would like to make some comments.
The Mayday rally, which should have served as a mood setter for the May 10th strike, was yet another example of a workers movement devoid of any form of spontaneous organic activity. Had the political groups and the bands been excluded from the tally the number of workers there would have barely made it into triple figures and tellingly, the largest single trade union contingent on the rally was the IWU which is not aligned with congress. 
There is an obvious failure here but it is one that cannot simply be attributed to the bureaucracy. While they bear the most of the blame for the low turnout this was not as a result of their failure, but was due instead to the success of their deliberate strategy for the demobilization of their membership. The accusation that the union  bureaucracy is “failing to lead” does not give them the credit they deserve. They are after all well informed, professional and committed people and they are playing a leadership role, having led consistently towards an accommodation with the new realities of crisis ridden capitalism. 
 They accept the need to lower their members’ standards of living and for the working class to repay the bankers’ debts, they accept that we are ‘all in it together’ and that there must be ‘a better fairer way’ to ensure those debts are paid. Their only consistent quibble is about the sustainability of austerity, instead they advocate a Keynesian growth model, designed to resurrect the conditions under which the familiar patterns of petty concession bargaining can whittle away at working class standards of living and once again the decline can slip by virtually unnoticed by the majority of their members. They attempt to carry on in the same role as mediators between the working class and capital that they have played throughout their entire careers. This is only to be expected.  Their continued adherence to the Croke Park deal guarantees continued austerity, water privatisation and Household charges, while they plead for a slowdown in meeting fiscal targets, in the best interests of ultimately paying the banks’ debts in full course. 
This is not a failure, it is reactionary politics. The real failure belongs to those on the left who provide a fig leaf for these betrayers of the working class, those who think that damning the bureaucracy with faint praise equates to criticism and that a surreptitious infiltration of bureaucratic bodies can alone suffice instead of an outright, unequivocal, political assault on their politics of class collaboration and their illusions in a new Keynesian  solution. Intervention in the trade unions by socialists must facilitate rank and file self organisation against the deadening control of the bureaucracy and the betrayal of the working class that is encapsulated in the Croke Park agreement. The trade unions’ leadership’s refusal to break the Croke Park deal and to use industrial action to oppose the introduction of the household charge and the water charge is an open betrayal of those campaigns.  To refuse to confront the bureaucracy with this betrayal and to build rank and file opposition to their rule is to surrender to them.
Eddie McLaughlin.

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