What some people still don't seem to understand is that the present economic system is hell-bent on eliminating any form of public or community entities. The drive is to make everything and anything that can generate profit to be in the hands of the corporate world. To create a population of individuals with no stake in the world they live in except there labour power, which they will sell to the highest bidder in competition with all the other dispossessed. Then when you are no longer suitable for hire, you can survive as best you can on charity. You should be quite clear in your mind, that in this economic system you are seen as units of production, nothing more and nothing less. If you can't produce for them, you are useless. Welcome to the corporate world's dream, or don't, but instead fight against that corporate dream, which is your worst nightmare.
Last month, the French philosopher Jacques Rancière addressed a general assembly of striking railway workers at the Montparnasse train station in Paris.https://radicalglasgow.me.uk
If I am here today, it is, of course, to affirm my total support for an exemplary struggle, but also to say in a few words why it seems to me to be exemplary.
I have spent a number of years of my life studying the history of the workers’ movement and it has shown me one essential thing: what we call social benefits is much more than benefits acquired by particular groups — it was the organization of a collective world governed by solidarity.
What is this special benefits scheme for railway workers that is presented to us as an archaic privilege? It was part of an organization of a common world where the things essential to everyone’s life were supposed to be everyone’s property. The railroads, for example, belonged to the community. And this collective ownership was also managed by a collective of workers who felt committed to that community; workers for whom the retirement of each one was the product of the solidarity of a concrete collective.
Demolish piece by piece
It is this concrete reality of the collective, united in solidarity, that the powerful of our world no longer want. It is this edifice that they have undertaken to demolish piece by piece. What they want is for there to be no more collective property, no more workers’ collectives, no more solidarity from below. They want there to be only individuals left, possessing their labor power like a small capital that can be made to bear fruit by renting it out to bigger people. Individuals who, by selling themselves day after day, accumulate points for themselves and only for themselves, in anticipation of a future in which pensions will no longer be based on labor but on capital, that is to say on exploitation and self-exploitation.
That is why pension reform is so decisive for them, why it is much more than a concrete question of financing. It is a question of principle. Retirement is how working time produces living time and how each of us is linked to a collective world. The whole question is to know what makes this link: solidarity or private interest.
Demolishing the pension system founded on collective struggle and solidarity organization is the decisive victory for our rulers. Twice already they have thrown all their forces into this battle and they have lost. We must do everything possible today to ensure that they lose a third time and that this loss helps them lose their taste for this battle once and for all.
This text was originally published in French by Le Monde. English translation for ROAR by Joshua Richeson.