Revolt nr3 Maj 2017FrontThis editorial was first published in the May edition of Revolt

It can seem that in Denmark everything is quiet. Nothing is happening. But that is only in appearance. Beneath the surface the same processes that we see in the rest of the world, which produced such political earthquakes as brexit and Trump, are taking place. Science teaches us that similar circumstances must produce similar results.

Danish economy in a fragile state

The Danish economy is heavily dependent on the world market, since it exports more than 50 percent of it’s GDP. The WTO downgraded their forecast for world trade from 2,8 percent to 1,7 percent. It is the first time in 15 years that the growth in world trade is smaller than the growth in global GDP. The world market is not really expanding and the international competition sharpens. A situation which only seems to worsen with protectionist tendencies growing everywhere. Protectionism was what turned the crisis in the 30’ies into the great depression. Brexit and the election of Trump has only exacerbated these protectionist tendencies. This is a situation that will have grave effects on the Danish economy.

In all countries we see how the attempt at creating economic stability creates political and social instability and vice versa. The world economy is already in a fragile position where any shock can send it into a new crisis even worse than in 2008. And many ”shocks” are piling up.

The Danish economy is not doing too well even before any shock. Danmarks Statistik revised their data on Danish growth in the last 3 years, which painted a slightly more positive picture. But the growth is still not impressive with growth rates of around 1,5 percent. Danish households are among the most indebted in the world holding mortgages with flexible interest rates and on top of that 50 percent of all mortgages are interest-only. Even a small increase in interests rates can send the finances in these households into serious problems. The Danish economy is balancing on a knife’s edge keeping the balance for now because of historicially low interest rates.

Even though the economy has somewhat recovered from the sharp decline after the crisis in 2008, it has also accelerated a trend that has been underway for many years: Namely, the gradual decline in stable and well-organized jobs, especially in industry. The mirror of that development has been an increasing number of jobs in the service sector of significant lower quality, greater job insecurity and an explosion in the use of temporary workers and overtime. A tendency used by the employers to squeeze the wages of all workers and a general attack on the working class with an explosion in inequality as a consequence. The number of Danes living in poverty has doubled in ten years.

The ”Danish Model” is being undermined

Danish capitalism has since its beginning been based on tripartite class collaboration between thev state, employers and unions. But this so called ”Danish model” is beginning to crumble. It was established on the basis of two factors: a post war boom which allowed the Danish capitalists to buy class peace in return for certain concessions. And a strong and well organised working class under solid control from the reformist leadership.

The boom is over and there is no longer any room for concessions. The employers are on the offensive, and part of the Danish capitalists want to destroy the Danish model and go into a full offensive against the workers. The unions have been losing members for many years because all they can provide through negotiations with the bosses are worsening conditions. The only thing that could secure a different outcome is if the unions mobilised the workers, but the union leaders are afraid they can’t control such a movement. So they lose even more members and at some point, they will be so weak that it makes no sense for the capitalists to negotiate with them. The positive side of that coin is that the reformists leaders will lose their grip on the working class, which they have held for most of the last 100 years.

The bourgeois institutions are crumbling

When Konservative and Liberal Alliance were brought into the Venstre-government before christmas, it was an expression of the division in the Danish ruling class: on one side the more traditional part which wants class collaboration and uses the top of the labour movement to secure a ”responsible” policy. On the other side we have another part, represented by Liberal Alliance, which wants to take on the labour movement head on. But the VLAK- government were not only a symptom but also an attempt to reconcile the two wings of the ruling class.

The government’s programme was the most reactionary since the Second World War, with harsh austerity measures. But since then very little has happened. The government has been paralysed. It is not because they lack the will: the bourgeoisie needs to attack the workers to survive in the international competition. But they do not know how to approach it. Venstre is in an internal war that will only intensify in the run up for the local elections in autumn. Liberal Alliance is quickly losing all credibility: The six ministers from the party occupied 6 out of the 7 bottom places in a evaluation of the credibility of the ministers.

The government are dependent on the racist Dansk Folkeparti, but they have been in a crisis since autumn when Morten Messerschmidt, their MEP, was caught cheating with EU funds. This means that they do not want to participate in too harsh attacks on the workers, and instead increasingly ally themselves with the Social Democrats trying to regain some popularity by presenting themselves as being pro-welfare.

The government’s weakness reflects the extreme weakness of the Danish bourgeoisie, just as the crisis in the political system and the growing political alienation reflects the crisis of capitalism. In all countries they need a strong government to carry out austerity. But the support of the traditional parties are crumbling. Some of them collapse completely after participating in government, like PASOK in Greece, while most of them stand at historic lows of about 15-20 percent - for now. This makes it impossible to create strong, stable governments. Instead we see coalition governments consisting of more and more parties - increasingly across the centre. For each time a party participates in government it gets further discredited and the situation becomes even more difficult for the bourgeoisie.

The opposition

The same process can be seen in Denmark. What is the alternative to the current VLAK-government? The only real alternative is a government led by Socialdemokratiet, but in coalition with whom and with whom as parliamentary support? Last time they tried that it did not go so well, especially for SF and Enhedslisten and it will be more difficult for Socialdemokratiet to rely on them in the future. To this should be added that Alternativet has been formed since the last Social Democratic government, which will only add to the instability of a possible new “centre-left” government. Otherwise, they must form a government with the DF, but who would be parliamentary basis? It is an impossible situation.

At the request of the president, Per Christensen, of one of the biggest unions in Denmark, 3F, an interview was set up between Christensen, the leader of Socialdemokratiet Mette Frederiksen and Kristian Thulesen Dahl from Dansk Folkeparti. Here they find common ground agreeing, for example, that the age of retirement should not be raised further (than it all ready has been done by the exact same parties). In the interview Mette Frederiksen is asked about inviting the DF into a future Social Democratic government and she doesn’t reject the idea.

Socialistisk Folkeparti but also Enhedslisten are quite positive towards such an alliance. Enhedslisten calls on the Socialdemokratiet and DF to use what they call the ”welfare majority”. In this way they legitimise DF as a party for welfare – and Socialdemokratiet as well. Both are parties which have participated in carrying through harsh austerity measures. But the main thing is what is not being said: that the cost will be attacks on immigrant and asylum seekers.

The left-wing British Labor politician Tony Benn once said, ”The way a government treats refugees is extremely instructive, because it shows how it would treat the rest of us if they thought they could get away with it.”

Socialdemokratiet and DF are not (yet) in the government, but we already have clear indications of how they will treat refugees, and subsequently the rest of us. Their treatment of the quota refugees is extremely instructive. The government, supported by the DF and Socialdemokratiet, adopted an end to quota refugees. That is a refusal to take 500 of the most vulnerable refugees in the world, that the UN distribute.

It is clear what policy on immigration and refugee matters will be the basis for such an alliance. For each tightening adopted, Dansk Folkeparti moves a few more steps to the right and Socialdemokratiet follows. A so-called ”welfare majority” will be based on DF’s inhumane refugee and immigration policy.

The reformist leaders of the labour movement have no solution to the crisis of capitalism, so they end up defending a nationalist position saying that even tighter rules on immigration and refugees are a precondition for securing the working conditions and welfare of the Danish workers. Nothing could be further from the truth! Every division of the working class along ethnic lines, religious lines etc. weakens the workers. Attacks on the conditions of immigrants and refugees are used as a battering ram against welfare and working conditions as was the case with “kontanthjælpsloftet” and “børnepen

gene”. Those who will end up paying if Socialdemokraterne and DF forms a government will be all workers in Denmark. The only way to defend the workers and welfare is through internationalist class struggle.

A revolutionary alternative

When you look at the surface all is calm. Strikes and demonstrations are at a historic low. But the same processes as we see in the rest of the world are also happening here, only with a bit of delay. If you look, there are some indicators of what is going on beneath the surface. In Denmark the traditional parties are losing support as well, and we see a political polarisation. The confidence of the Danish population in the politicians is at a historic low.

All may be calm, but no one is satisfied. The bourgoisie is not satisfied because they need harsh austerity. The workers are not satisfied because they have been made to pay for the crisis. The youth is not satisfied because they are being robbed of a future. This is not sustainable.

The youth has been hit the hardest by the crisis. And it is only set to get worse. The government has, as the first in Danish history, announced that its vision is that fewer should receive an education.

In the years after 2008 the numbers of students exploded as a safety walve to get the youth out of unemployment and into the schools and universities. Now they will close this and youth unemployment is likely to explode as a consequence.

The capitalist system is in a dead end. And more and more workers and youth are realising that things cannot go on as before, that something is fundamentally wrong. But they have nowhere to go. These frustrations are expressed by no political party. As revolutionaries we meet hundreds of young people who are looking for an alternative to the present system and want to do something to change the world. They think they are all alone. But they are not.

At some point the frustrations will get a mass expression. It is the task of all those who want to change the world, all revolutionaries, to prepare for this. We have to organise and study. Earlier in history the world has been shaken by revolutionary waves, not least the wave one hundred years ago, following the Russian revolution. We must learn from these experiences, so that this time the workers and youth will be victorious and create a socialist world!

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