Joined up thinking for the Irish Left
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NAMA Wine Lake >>
The Anti-Water Charges
Progressive Taxation is a bourgeois fiscal form
All taxation is bourgeois!
The AAA-PBP alliance argues that Irish water should be funded from progressive taxation with the emphasis on those earning over €100,000. Clearly the latter sum is not, by today's standards, an enormous sum. This effectively means that the middle and working class are to fund the national water system.
Progressive taxation is a bourgeois tax that is enforced to sustain the capitalist state. It is not a tax that exclusively hits capitalists. Progressive taxation is a cross-class tax. Consequently there is nothing radical when AAA-PBP promote this fiscal form as part of a solution to water funding. However it has the appearance of radicalism. It is a policy designed to deceive the working class.
The AAA-PBP alliance, in effect, claim that the Irish (capitalist) state is the benefactor of the working class (if in the right hands). The inference, then, is that water maintenance serves the interests of workers when only under (capitalist) state control. But the alliance fails to point out that the state is capitalist. Consequently that state will privatise or statify water assets should it ultimately serve the interests of capitalism. Therefore the alliance's call for the continued statification of water is unjustifiable from a proletarian perspective.
Neither direct water charges nor progressive taxation are solutions to the problem of water. Both are bourgeois fiscal forms. Both hit the working class in different ways. But substantively they have the same character. Progressive taxation is a more deceptive fiscal form.
The only solution is direct ownership, control and regulation of water resources by the working class. This means the establishment of directly democratic workers councils --communism.
The AAA-PBP position actively seeks to contain the struggle over water within the parameters of capitalism thereby preventing the working class from becoming class conscious and taking political power into its own hands.
The Right2Water campaign, as it stands, is a cross- class alliance that serves the interests of capitalism at the expense of the working class. This is explains why there is a substantial number of deputies supporting the abolition of water charges.
The alliance argues that the justification for the abolition of water charges is the "democratic mandate" within the Dáil (parliament) to abolish these charges. But Dáil mandates have existed since the establishment of the Irish state. These mandates have been, largely speaking, anti-working class, ones that much of the Irish Left would have refused to support. The Thatcher and Blair governments, in Britain, had parliamentary mandates. Yet much of the Left opposed these mandates. There is no obligation, morally or politically, for the working class to support "democratic" mandates. This is because bourgeois democratic mandates are not necessarily morally or politically justifiable.
The argument that the Irish state can take surplus value from the capitalist class to solve the problems of the working class is both illogical and impossible. Surplus value deductions, by squeezing profits, undermine the capitalist econonic system. It is a programme that falsely suggests that capitalism is not obsolescent and can serve the class interests of workers. Because of its inherently class nature the state is objectively unable to serve proletarian interests.
The lack of radicalism of the Right2Water movement has now been concretely demonstrated by the political activity of the two major bourgeois political parties along with its (Indpts) satellites. By their suspension of water charges they have resolutely undermined the Right2Water campaign. With a stroke of the pen the FG/FF alliance has destroyed that movement. The latter now can no longer mobilise much of the the populace in the way that it did. This was possible because the raison d'etre for the campaign was based simply on the specific form of taxation, a bourgeois issue, rather than the issue of power and its nature.
It is ironical to hear a deputy from PBP say on the RTE news that the intervention by FF/FG on the water issue constitutes a breakthrough. This is to suggest that these two political parties bear a progressive character. The deputy's comment is a further indication of the purely bourgeois character of the anti-water charges campaign. The latter was one enormous illusion presented as radical by the leadership of the Right2Water movement. The AAA-PBP alliance is exploiting poverty, pauperization and the exploitation of labour power to advance its power base within the decadent dynamics of capitalism. This can only obstruct any opportunities that exist for workers to emancipate themselves from the shackles of capitalism.
The water problem, the health problem and homelessness can only be solved by workers setting up a system of factory/ office committees and workers' councils. Under such directly democratic workers' forms the Irish state can be both confronted and destroyed. This is the path to the establishment of authentic com unitarianism.
The promotion of statism by the AAA-PBP alliance is a bourgeois strategy that is hostile to proletarian interests. It is ironically a programme that the SWP and the Socialist Party were formally opposed to, in its extreme form, with respect to the extinct Soviet Union. They have now taken a 360 degree rotation -- a revolution. But not the revolution that communists advocate.
Superstitious belief in the Irish legislature and the state, itself, is generally reactionary. What may serve as a tactic has been converted into a strategy by the #AAA-PBP alliance. Bourgeois democracy is an obsolescent institutional form. It is not the way towards emancipation.
There is no royal road to class emancipation. Anti-property tax and water charges campaigns are cross-class alliances that cannot challenge capitalism. They bear a superficial character that is incapable of challenging the existing social system.
It is the contradictory nature of the process of production that is at the heart of the problem. The fiscal sphere is not. It is merely concerned with how surplus value, already generated by production through exploitation, is to be distributed. Changes as to how this distribution is undertaken are not of fundamental significance. This is because the production of surplus value has already been realised. Exploitation has already been effected.
The only way to deal with the issue of the water system is to seize it. This means working class ownership, control and regulation of the water system. Under these conditions taxes can never be an issue. This is because they would not exist.
The task of the working class cannot be concerned with reforming the fiscal system. Its task is the elimination of all taxation. Taxation is a capitalist form. It is not a form by which the class needs of the working class are met. Progressive taxation, in particular, is a bourgeois form. It is not a form by which the class needs of the working class are realised. Consequently the call by the AAA-PBP alliance for funding of water through progressive taxation is not a solution to the problem.
Neither is borrowing by the state a solution to the water problem. This is because borrowing is undertaken at the expense of the working class.
A social revolution is necessary if the problems of the working class are to be solved. This entails the seizure of power by the workers through the establishment of a federation of workers' councils that replaces the state. A community without a state.