One of the notions which came up at yesterday’s Assembly was about whether the Perthian 99% should bring forward a list of demands. I argued against laundry list of reforms as I think this would stifle the organisation of worker-citizens in motion (which is what is happening on a global scale) i.e. dividing those who supported such and such a reform from others in the general movement of the 99% against the power of the 1%. But of course, demands for reform of the capitalist system will continue to be argued for. It’s inevitable, IMO. So, the way I see it, the best way to deal with lists of demands is to try to get the Wobbly notion of ‘it’s the wage system’ to take hold amongst the assembled citizenry. To this end, I will argue that the 1% have power because they own the wealth we produce in exchange for wages. Actually, I think it’s more like 10% versus the 90% of wage workers. But not to quibble. The movement is going along very well with the vague outlines of class consciousness embedded in the 99% vs the 1%. The question to be posed is how the 1% ended up with the power to screw up our lives with climate change, lack of democratic rights, austerity for the 99% and so on….and the Wobbly answer is, “It’s the wage system, mate. We get the wages, they get the wealth and that’s why they have the power to control. IOW..Wealth IS power and we give to them in exchange for wages”.
Once that principle is grasped, we can move on to demands and my proposal is that we argue for demanding MORE of what we have won from the past class struggles. This should resonate, as most people already understand that we have Medicare, Homes West etc. People outside the Occupy Perth will ask, what are you here for and we can answer MORE. More what? More public housing (eliminate the 89,000 on the waiting list, already). More Medicare e.g. bulk billing for all citizens, not just the poor. More workers rights, not just Fair Work Australia but eliminating all laws which tie labour’s hands behind its back. More Aboriginal rights up to and including the rights of Aboriginal people to control the wealth extracted from their lands. Two sources of wealth, right? Labour power producing goods and services and natural resources lying in the land. As for the labour end of the wealth equation, we deserve more of what we produce and we’d get that by having
the right of union solidarity (eliminate the ABCC for example), shorter work time (e.g. the four hour day with no cut in pay) and additions/more to the social wage e.g. dental care being added to Medicare bulk billing.
In other words, what do we want? MORE! The 1% are hogging the wealth we produce and treating us like their wage-slaves. That should be the principle, IMO. More of what? More of the wealth we create and are entitled to, including most especially our time. We want more free-time: more free-time will shrink the labour market and boost demand for labour power i.e. wages. We want MORE freedom and more democracy.
Why are we entitled to this wealth? Because we, the 99% create it for wages and that part of the 99% who are Aboriginal should have the right to control their land/wealth. Who are the 99%? Those who are obliged to sell their skills and time to the employing class and those whose land this was before the European owners declared it theirs by force of arms. Who is standing in the way of us getting more the wealth we create and deserve? The 1% who control the wage system. It’s wage system. If a substantial number of Occupy Perth come out of the movement with this understanding, the IWW in Perth will have made a contribution toward the self-emancipation of the working class, for without that level of class consciousness, worker-citizens will remain pawns in the reformist games of people who want to run a wage system on us (both official and unofficial). In the coming days, we will become subject to the inevitable wave of cooptation from the velvet glove which will follow on from the iron heel. Let’s try not to get stepped on.