Is this the end of the European social model?

The social crisis is hitting everywhere in Europe. And hard. Inflation is eating up incomes, salaries, pensions. In almost all countries, workers are revolting, leading strikes and finding original means of action. In Germany, the two largest trade unions in the world, Ver.di and IG Metall, are demanding wage increases above the announced inflation and strongly reject the idea that employees have to pay the consequences of an identical economic and social policy. in all European countries. The same causes produce the same effects: all countries are interested and, despite the call of the media not to talk about it, social struggles are gaining momentum.

It began in January, in Spain, where millions of employees intervened in the face of the impoverishment that was affecting the Spanish population, especially the weakest. The united unions, CCOO and UGT snatched a 6.7% increase, but was “eaten” by inflation and mobilization is picking up in late summer.

In Italy, strikes are on the rise and the social question is at the center of the debate in view of the elections on 25 September that risk bringing the far right to power!

Strikes are multiplying in Great Britain: unprecedented for 30, even 40 years for sectors such as transport. Postal workers are also ready to launch a broad social movement.

But it is in Germany that the pressure is getting heavier on the government and employers. The warning strikes follow one another and the reassuring speeches of a pale Olaf Scholz who assures that everything is under control do not reassure the unions. The Chancellor even ventured up a slippery slope urging unions to “be accountable by moderating their wage demands”! With immediate effect: calls for mobilization have multiplied.

WAR HAS A GOOD BACK …

There are some economists today who can break the silence and “little deals with the truth” of the media to show that the origin of inflation has nothing to do with the war in Ukraine. Fuel prices were also already soaring before the outbreak of the conflict.

The origin is to be found in the “whatever the cost” carried out in all European countries (and not just by Macron) during the COVID epidemic where liberalism has borrowed even more states to support businesses. It was obviously natural that, at some point, the same people would present the bill to the citizens. V. Putin’s warlike tendencies allow governments to mask austerity and social regression measures… with the argument of “solidarity” with Ukraine. All this would therefore be the price to pay for the end of the war.

Sanctions against Russia are a further factor justifying social regression. The war has obviously aggravated the situation above all due to the price of energy which continues to rise dramatically.

THE END OF ABUNDANCE!

We don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The President of Riches, just (badly) re-elected, breaks words whose indecency borders on irresponsibility and should light the wicks of a great social conflict. How can we use the term “end of abundance” when we talk about people who have been living for months, even years, social setbacks, job insecurity, fear of the future … Abundance? For whom is abundance? For RSA beneficiaries? The independents of Uber Eat? When is the number of people up to the poverty line constantly increasing?

Or was he talking about his friends, those who like to travel by private jet or private yacht whose charter ranges between € 300,000 and € 1,000,000 per week?

Obviously not! Those for whom the death knell of abundance rings are those who this winter will have to reduce the heat, limit their movements to get to work (how do you do it?), Cultivate themselves and rest … This is Mr. Macron Goal …

And to promise us a few more candy sticks: the unemployment insurance reform and the pension reform that will continue to unravel the safety net for the majority of the population …

LIBERAL EUROPE ON THE ANGLOSASSON MODEL

The social vision developed by the Anglo-Saxon culture is in contrast with our practices more or less inspired by Rhenish capitalism in which the state provides social coverage based on the collective and solidarity principle.

On the contrary, the Anglo-Saxon vision is characterized by individual protection, and therefore in the measure of the possibilities of each one. Solidarity can only be a work of charity through which the lucky ones repay themselves with a clear conscience. Mr. Gates can accumulate billions without paying taxes … as long as he creates a foundation that funds some initiatives, morality is saved.

It is against this that the social struggles of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Europe fought each other and managed to impose another model, financed on a solidarity basis.

It is this model that is in the crosshairs of today’s liberal Europe and national governments are called upon to apply this new doxa. What Mr. Macron does all the more willingly as it corresponds to his own principles.

THE ELECTIONS ARE NOT ENOUGH, YOU NEED MORE …

Elections in all countries disturbed the outgoing governments: Social Democracy, yet one of the promoters of Rhine capitalism, has wallowed in the financial gangue and has lost all credibility. It is true that the French legislative elections can be considered to have tried to re-establish a semblance of a counter-power National Assembly. But this is obviously a lure; Macron will find his majority for the reforms he wants to do with the LR, the National Rally, and certainly with some ecologists and socialists.

We cannot therefore count on a legislative assembly that rejects the end of the collective and solidarity social model. And as long as the current democratic rules are in place, there is no reason why the liquidation of the Labor Code, collective agreements, solidarity contracts should not continue.

French trade unions are joining trade union centers in other European countries and even the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) is increasing their calls to resist these operations to liquidate the social dimension (see https: //www.etuc. org / fr)

But the world of work does not have a balance of forces that is favorable to it: certain fights succeed, of course. However, mobilizing the poorest is difficult with traditional methods of struggle. And we have seen that even the movement of the yellow vests has been circumscribed by kind presidential words and by a servile media in the service of power.

BINDING MEASURES EXTEND

One of the most active weapons to convince the populations of the uselessness of social movements is obviously the media. The rancor they show, tirelessly repeating the same analyzes, observations and language elements served by power, does not leave the population indifferent. The idea that there is no credible alternative to liberal politics has gained ground … and aims to make the poorest in our society accept their fate, those who should be the first to rebel and resist. Any controversy in the media is outlawed or discredited, even treated as “fake news” … And their perpetrators are ridiculed as hideous conspirators.

This method certainly has its limitations: more than 50% of media users do not believe that what is written, said or shown in the press is the truth!

And more and more groups, communities, associations are rebelling and looking for original forms of struggle to bring together as many people as possible.

The civil disobedience movement that is currently at work in Britain around refusing to pay energy bills is enjoying some success.

Governments fear these outbursts of anger from those who have nothing more to lose. They will have to be brought back to the right path by force if necessary. Repression awaits and the permanent promotion of the police force is part of this desire to use violence and force to subdue recalcitrant people.

FIND PATHS FOR A UNIFYING AND OFFENSIVE SOCIAL RETURN

This beginning of the 2022 school year is fundamental for the future of our country’s social model. The avalanche of questioning social achievements is justified by the power of the war in Ukraine. It is the task of trade unions and associations to bring the church back to the center of the country and open perspectives to the population. There are enough arguments to dismantle the harsh claims that this crisis is inevitable, that the time has come to tighten our belts, that happy days are behind us.

It is still strong coffee to hear these speeches when we can read:

  • The four companies that dominate the grain market have seen their profits soar as food prices rise around the world, according to an article from Guardian, released on Tuesday, August 23, 2022. These four major players, Archer-Daniels-Midland, Bunge, Cargill and Louis-Dreyfus, control 70% to 90% of the market. Their profits increased 17% for Bunge, 23% for Cargill and even 80% for Louis-Dreyfus.
  • For the oil industry, the last quarter was particularly prosperous. Fifteen of the largest companies in the industry made cumulative profits of $ 77 billion, nearly triple the same period last year. Throughout the first half of 2022, their earnings have risen to 94 billion. A boon that allowed them to distribute 30 billion in dividends and buy back their own shares (Le Temps, Switzerland, August 2022)
  • In the first quarter of 2022, the top four French banking institutions generated a cumulative net profit of 5 billion euros, despite the war in Ukraine. Although exposed to war in Ukraine through their branches in Moscow or Kiev, but also through loans from Paris to large Russian companies, French banks performed much better than expected in the first quarter. (The world)
  • Arms industry: production lines that are struggling to keep up, rising prices and requests coming from all over Europe: the global rearmament linked to the war in Ukraine is a boon for arms manufacturers in Switzerland (Swissinfor 29 April 2022 )
  • The arms market knows no crisis. The global giants of the sector were largely spared the effects of the economic crisis caused by Covid last year, with a new record of their sales up for the sixth consecutive year, according to a report released Monday, December 6, 2021. The turnover of the 100 largest defense groups in 2020 reached a new high of $ 531 billion (€ 470 billion), of which more than half from American companies (Les Crises January 11, 2022)

The risk of getting tired of this uniformity of information on the health of large capitalist groups prevents us from continuing this litany. It is clear that war enriches capital and impoverishes peoples. Should we, once again, accept this without batting an eye?

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