Enough is enough for whom?

Postcard caricature of an anarchist produced between the two Russian revolutions of 1917

Against the background of an austerity onslaught and a rising tide of militancy through strikes, ballots and preparations for strikes, the currently cross-union led ’Enough is Enough’ campaign, launched its nationwide tour in Clapham, London on August 17th, following up with the second of 50 such planned events, in Manchester on August 30th. 

The packed and oversubscribed rally was attended by AnarCom Network giving us an opportunity to share solidarity and communicate our ideas with other working-class militants.

It is the first time since the ‘84 Miners Strike we have seen an energised, concerted, organised labour attempt at unity and mobilisation against capitalist crisis and its attack on our class in the UK.

It had an energy and fervour reminiscent of the blush of ‘false dawn’ optimism that accompanied and beguiled so many Corbinistas.  What marks this as real dawn potential is that it is currently unhobbled by the Unite Union dubbed “get a spine” Labour government in waiting or an overarching TUC collaborationist bureaucracy. 

For all of the regressive rhetoric about the ‘70’s, these union spokespeople are not the left establishment hacks of the Wilson/Callaghan/Foot era.  The unions taking part are genuinely articulating the expressed needs of their members.  So far, language has been committed, uncompromising, and many of the current generation of union leaders are critical of the Labour leadership, wary of the formal role of the TUC, and articulate exponents of their members demands.

For all of that, it remains limited by its clearly trade union minded consciousness. While leaders spoke, picket line workers didn’t, and while their demands are understandable, their resolutions were the lowest common denominator of social democratic, even liberal, policy:

– End poverty, real terms pay rise, £15 minimum wage, benefits increased above inflation; 

– End fuel poverty, nationalise energy   and restore pre-April price cap; 

– End food poverty, restore Universal Credit uplift; free school meals and community kitchens; 

– Homes for all, capped rents, 100k annual social housing units, scrap right to buy, renters charter and holiday let limits; 

– Tax reform, scrap NI increase and raise wealth and corporate tax.

These in themselves demonstrate the as yet limited level of consciousness, assertiveness, and aspiration.  Despite their slogan of ‘It’s time to turn anger into action’ and the insistence that the campaign will go on with or without Labour, historic limitations remain.  Labour Mayor Burnham says “Westminster needs to wake up” – that’s the problem, it is awake and doing its job.  Nor is Labour spineless, it is a capitalist animal with a capitalist spine that needs breaking not fixing. 

With exhortations to support strikers picket lines and get out on the streets, the emphasis that the unions will take the lead and show us the way risks the same compulsory muscularity of the Miners strike, a potentially alienating factor.  Nothing was said on the limited nature of the demands nor of the need to raise them through the coordination and unification of struggle and demands across sectors and communities, or of escalation in scale and tactics.  Enough maybe enough to start with, but we have to ask, enough for whom?

As anarchist communists we don’t want to cause ripples in the capitalist pond, we want the tsunami that drowns it.  That means going beyond calling for solidarity and support to advocating the struggles of all to come out in the open, in streets, factories, schools, workplaces, communities, towns, village and country.  Build on action committees to community and workplace assemblies and share, not just support, in solidarity. 

Unification, coordination and escalation, not pacification through the limited demands of concession and reform, and never for one sector to claim the leadership to tell us when that has been achieved.  It is time to demand the impossible and let only our imagination set the limits.

Article by Dreyfus 31/08/2022