The writers of the Bible talk of seven years of plenty, followed by seven of famine; those of the Quran, of those 14 years and a 15th of plenty.
For both books it is the story of a fate which people can only endure, not change.
The five lean years since 2010 were made not by an unalterable god, but by the Tories and the Liberal Democrats, serving the super-rich for whom those have been five fat years. The wealth of the 1,000 richest households has more than doubled since 2009.
The lean and the fat were made by human action. Human action will decide whether the next five are hungry again for the working class and the worst-off, and fat again for the rich, or good for us and austere for the rich.
We have powers to produce plenty, developed by generations of human ingenuity since the days of the Bible and the Quran, when starvation in dry years was immovable fate. Who will control those powers?
At present the rich, the top one per cent, control those powers. Even before working-class action overthrows their control, it can inflected and limit it.
We can do that only through action. Each individual who shrugs, or finds it too stressful to combat the power of the rich, undermines us. Each new individual who joins us in the battle for socialism strengthens those already active.
This issue of Solidarity is written before we know the election result on 7 May. We know that the idea that hungry years are immovable fate, that speaking out is too hard, that it’s best to fend for oneself, has regained all too much grip.
It has hobbled resistance, and so narrowed the poll to a choice between Labour leaders who pride themselves on showing that they are “responsible” by promising more hunger, and Tories who openly glory in the aim of effectively banning all large public sector strikes.
Even that narrow choice is important, and even in that narrow choice we are not passive. We are part of the labour movement, and we work with the labour movement to return a Labour government at the same time as we fight for the labour movement to demand Labour taxes the rich and repeals cuts.
Either result on 7 May calls for renewed effort against fatalism.
If Labour wins, we work to turn the vague hopes held by millions that a Labour government will somehow end the lean years into active mobilisation for precise policies: repeal the cuts, legislate a living wage for all, tax the rich, expropriate the banks, open the borders.
If the Tories win, we argue that the conclusion that sitting out Tory rule and hoping better comes round in a cycle like the Bible’s or the Quran’s has been proved hopeless. Unless we fight, it is one cycle of five lean years after another, with no copious years between.
Even Tories in office, flush with election victory, can be defeated. They represent only a small minority, alimented by the passive submission of a section of the majority. Those now passive and fatalistic can be stirred up, and we can win. But only if we mobilise.