This summer the media have multiplied the speeches aimed at making us accept what is already underway and will proliferate in the fall: in the face of inflation, the "danger" of raising wages; in the face of the increase in poverty, the reproach for having lived "beyond the means"... of capital; in the face of the uneasiness about working conditions, the normalization of automated timekeeping; and in the face of the distrust of militarism, the supposed "price of freedom" that we should begin to pay... to capital.
The "danger" of raising wages
It's been the rumor all summer long in the media: raising wages above inflation was the cause of Nazism. From the Wall Street Journal and its reprints in media around the world to European Commission Vice President Josep Borrell himself we were told this in every way possible.
Historically, claiming this is simply untenable, if not ridiculous, of course. But reality never spoils a useful story for the bourgeoisie. So they keep repeating it to us with the same tenacity and banality with which they claimed that air conditioning is bad for health, while according to the WHO, only between Spain and Portugal and only because of the July heat wave, more than 1,700 people died.
We are living beyond the means... of the capital
All sections of the newspaper were good for the purpose of trying to convince us that we must accept the new impoverishment that is underway. Not that any ideologues were being particularly sophisticated or lacking in cynicism.
Even in tech news they claimed that the masses of capital intended to build monopolies by dumping (sustaining the gratuity of certain online services to avoid or exclude competition) had actually been "subsidies" to those young millennials who, they claimed, lived for free by using free apps!!!!
But by the time August came around the predictable result of the very anti-fascist wage containment was the accelerated emergence of a widening rift between the incomes of the inflation-ridden workers and the corporate petty bourgeoisie.
It soon became clear that the rift was not to be confined to battered Britain and southern Europe. The Netherlands saw poverty increase as workers' purchasing power fell. And in Germany a surcharge on gas consumption was finally approved for this coming winter of some 2,200 euros per family, while steel mills began to shut down because of energy prices and send workers into temporary unemployment.
The liberal press knew how to live up to its usual moral high ground. For the New York Times, the thing was easy to fix: go to leftover supermarkets and out-of-date products where, they even told us, we could find delicatessen at bargain prices. According to El País, with some concession to reality, the situation was not much different, after all, an individual choice: save less or change consumption patterns. There was nothing to complain about!!!! On the contrary, a whole new world of cool things and super-environmental things to discover like walking to work even if it's far away or relocating because you can't afford to pay the rent.
The standardization of automated control and timekeeping
And among the cool things of the summer of 2022 the spread of computerized work control systems cannot be omitted.
"Across industries and job positions, more and more employees are being monitored, logged and classified," stated the New York Times. Wage-per-minute pay, monitored and authenticated - usually downward - by an automated system that turns eight hours of continuous work into six before you know it. It's not just bathroom breaks that discount, it's also what's outside of direct work at the machine or monitor, which would require special permission to be counted as real work.
It is more than just a new twist in the trend towards timekeeping that we have been decrying all along and especially in recent years, when governments like the Spanish one imposed timekeeping.... eliminating breaks in the tally so that they were neither paid nor contributed.
Macron and "the price of freedom"
And yet the master of epic cynicism in Europe remains Macron. Sánchez and Díaz both abound in cynicism, but lack the epic to make their interventions even more repugnant.
And the fact is that Macron, in his own way, has been the clearest about what is coming in the fall: "work to support our companies, in the context of this war." Working more, being paid less and receiving less education and healthcare services, would be nothing other than... the "price of freedom".
I am thinking of our people, who will need the strength of soul to face the times ahead, resist uncertainties, sometimes difficulties and hardships, and, united, agree to pay the price of our freedom and our values.
The discourse that until now was only openly made in relation to migrants, is now applied to workers as a whole: capital wants to exploit more not only by paying less real wages but by reducing the bulk of the general costs of exploitation (school and healthcare).
A "new austerity" is being prepared. And in countries like Spain, it will top off the effects on the living conditions of the workers of the change of productive model imposed by Sanchism.
And the fact is that, all over the world, as winter approaches in the northern hemisphere, governments are going to try to move from the general indirect attack -profits and prices growing above wages- to the direct attack on working conditions. The "essential reforms", as Macron called them.
And they will succeed... if we don't counter them on our own ground.