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Europe’s Demonstrations and Strikes Confronting Oligarchs’ War Economy

Feb. 5, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—The huge demonstrations and strikes which since in the New Year in major European countries are confronting the anti-population austerity measures of what are newly shifted war economies.

Steadily growing demonstrations in France, supported by two-thirds of the population according to polls, are fighting the “pension reform” and other austerity measures of the government of President Emmanuel Macron. This government is in the process of hiking military spending by 70%—from the equivalent of $38 billion in 2019 to a projected average of $65 billion/year from now to 2030, and is simultaneously trying to make French citizens work longer and older for the same pension, along with other varieties of economic austerity.

So the millions in the streets are confronting the French shift to a war economy under the gun of the demands of NATO, the United States, the British Empire to defeat and weaken Russia. One local of the French CGT union confederation has made this explicit in its leaflets, as do banners reading “No Dismantling Social Security, No World War.” More actions are promised on Feb. 7 and Feb. 11.

In the U.K., the new government of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has only just begun really to raise military spending, after raising taxes, while working households have faced double-digit inflation and fuel shortages. After the House of Commons passed “minimum service” legislation Jan. 30 intended to block strikes by compelling employees to scab on their unions, 550,000 workers promptly went out on strike Jan. 31 and Feb. 2. MP Kevin Hollinrake, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Enterprises and Markets, said on Jan. 30:

“An inflation-matching pay increase of 11% for all public sector workers would cost £28 billion, which would put just under £1,000 on to the bills of every household in all our constituencies. That is on top of the Opposition’s spending plans, which would add £50 billion of recurrent costs annually on to our economy, where we are already running a £175 billion deficit....”

But, as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson already increased military spending by £24 billion in three years 2019-22; and the current Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak propose to raise it by £157 billion more from 2023-2030, an average annual increase of £20 billion or 40% (British defense spending this year rose to £50.6 billion). That is very far above the “inflation-matching pay increase” of 11% in three years, which Hollinrake found so impossible. So in the U.K. they, too, are striking against a war economy.

The United States, of course, has the mother of all military budgets, outstripping all non-defense discretionary spending combined by $847 billion (“plus-plus”) against $772 billion. The first Washington demonstration against that monstrosity will take place Feb. 19, with its top demand, “Not One More Penny for the War in Ukraine!”

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