NOW that the festivities and the “lunatic hype of matric” are behind us it is time for a reality check, says Terry Bell in his first Labour Wrap for 2015.
He points out that we now have to come to terms with the prospect of further load shedding and the jobless total being swelled by many thousands of school leavers.
By any standards, he maintains, we face a tough time over coming months. And not just here. We are, after all, part of a globalised world where the ongoing economic crisis is helping to spread the poison of nationalism - regional, religious, linguistic, ethnic or whatever - and its attendant, and bloody, adjunct, xenophobia.
And he maintains that the use and abuse by politicians of divisive group identities was clearly illustrated by the Je suis Charlie events in Paris. Not the deaths, since what has happened in Nigeria far surpasses that, but the demonstration of hypocrisy and the playing of the patriot game by politicians, several of whom helped create, and whose actions maintain, an environment that encourages barbarism.
Globally, says Bell, we now face a threat not only to living standards but to whatever democratic rights we enjoy. And this is why trade unions and the labour movement are so important.
Because, he points out, trade unions were founded on the principles of democracy and internationalism; on the basis that an injury to one is an injury to all. Such principles imply that there exists only one race: the human race - and that every individual should enjoy equal rights and the liberty to exercise them.
Bell sees this as a crucial debate and calls on readers to join in the discussion in a meaningful way. “We need to speak to one another, to listen and to analyse,” he says.
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- Terry Bell is a political, economic and labour analyst. Views expressed are his own. Follow him on twitter @telbelsa.