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People's Daily Online>>Opinion

UK mass strike shows steep learning curve

(Global Times)

09:43, December 01, 2011

Some 2 million people reportedly went on strike across the UK on Wednesday. If this number is correct, it would be one of the largest strikes not only in the UK but also in Western history.

The British ruling class was angered by earlier violent unrest in the summer. Both Parliament and the media condemned the rioters at the time. However, on Wednesday's strike revealed that those strongly worded accusations did not represent the ability to heal social divergences. Its interests and opinions are already polarized.

The UK has been a role model for capitalist states, but its system has appeared incompetent when confronted by an economic downturn, growing social unfairness and unaffordable welfare system. It has lost the momentum it acquired after the Cold War and riches obtained during colonialism. It has to look inward now for solutions to generate new wealth. However, it is the hardest nut to crack.

In the post Cold-War era, the West has reached a peak of protecting its intellectual properties and innovation in its finance sector. These are advanced ways of generating wealth but have led to a severe concentration of fortune. Even in the West, fewer people benefit from this.

With the cheaper manufacturing industry long gone, the well-compensated Western countries have forgotten how to work. They need more exports of their intellectual properties, more innovation in their finance industry, and, especially, new colonies to rescue them. But they all, particularly the UK, no longer possess the power to make these happen.

Taking anger down to the street will not help, neither will changing the government. The Britons need to lower their expectations for the future and accept the fact that their world-class living standards have to decrease gradually.

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Leave your comment5 comments

  1. Name

Canada at 2011-12-0270.36.49.*
If all the world was socialist, each country with its own characteristics, every country"s sovereignty respected,there would be no more wars, no need for massive spending on military & arms, poverty could be slowly but surely eliminated, inequality could be reduced, economies & trade would be rational & sustainable, technology shared...& there would be a future we could all look forward to. Neither the British working class nor Britain"s welfare system is responsible for the British financial problems.
PD User at 2011-12-01123.150.183.*
why do you come here
PD User at 2011-12-01113.169.227.*
Well said.My take on the writers point was that maybe they thought the UK Welfare system could not afford the ever increasing numbers of people requiring welfare (perhaps through the increasing numbers of elderly people/ageing population and/or benefit cheats etc).I really liked your concise summary of the UK situation at the moment - very balanced and informed.
PD User at 2011-12-01113.106.195.*
I"m a british citizen working in china and I have a few thoughts on your article .Firstly, why do you think the british welfare pensions system is unaffordable? its paid for through taxation of every worker(25% -40% of salary ,20% on all on -essential goods )The government is happy to take this money,why do they now problems giving it back as agreed in labour contracts with its own employees?The main reason why the state suddenly can"t afford the sick,the old the unemployed etc,is
RJM at 2011-12-01202.107.245.*
I"m a British citizen working in China and I have a few thoughts on your article.Firstly, why do you think the British welfare/pensions system is "unaffordable"? Its paid for through taxation (25%-40% of salary, 20% on all non-essential goods) of every worker. The government is happy to take this money, why do they now have problems giving it back as agreed in labour contracts with its own employees?The main reason why the state suddenly can"t "afford" the sick, the old, the unemployed etc. is because the government will not tax or otherwise expropriate its super-rich friends. Back in 1979, a millionaire could expect to be taxed at 90% of income and we didn"t have homelessness or the kind of social dysfunction we have today.Now many of the super-rich pay next to nothing through various dodges and ruses using small armies of accountants and lawyers. One civil service union participating in the strike (whose members are involved in the taxation system) estimates that around £125 billion extra revenue could be raised simply by properly applying the law to the super-rich.I sense that the writer of the article believes the solution is for British workers paid what Chinese workers are paid. In this he probably finds himself in agreement with the British government, but the argument makes no sense. The cost of living in Britain is much, much higher. Nor will it come down so long as the world"s elite flood into London, speculate in real estate etc. forcing up prices everywhere as businesses and workers are forced to pay ever more extortionate rents. Paying Chinese-level salaries under these conditions would simply produce starvation, a crime wave and ever greater disorder.If you don"t believe me, then please, come to Britain and see how far your Chinese salary goes! You"ll spend your monthly 2-3000Y or so in about a week. You wouldn"t be able to afford the rent or a hotel and you"d find yourselves living on the streets. Many of my friends and relatives struck work yesterday and I support their cause. They should strike more and for longer, sticking to the clear demand of no cuts to a pension which is part of a contract which they have already been paying into for years. In the face of repeated mass strikes the government will discover that it can raise the money through taxes on those who already have more than enough and by ceasing its wars in the middle east.

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