Back to Front - Capitalism's carte blanche
WORKERS, DECEMBER 2008 ISSUE
Now even capitalism’s apologists are saying this crisis could be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s. Finance capital is entirely parasitic on production, and as it now devours itself it will also devour its host, if we let it. Britain depends far too much on finance, and we have far less industry now than we did in the 1930s, so we are less able to cope.
With capitalism in absolute decline, the ruling class is using the crisis to attack industry and services. Industry and services are the flesh and blood of the working class, but capitalism in its decline no longer needs them.
Nationalisation used to mean that the working class seized assets from the capitalists and for the nation. Now under Labour it means that the capitalist class seizes assets from the nation to save itself, looting like Russian oligarchs.
Life is proving for all to see that capitalism doesn’t work, but as long as workers think that socialism doesn’t work either, we will be stuck with capitalism.
The government has thrown billions of our money into restoring banks’ balance sheets, but never asked for a guarantee that any of that money will go into productive industry. With all the money that we have put in, we demand investment in the real economy - invest straight into industry and services, plan the use of our natural resources and stop thieving public assets.
Repossessions are up by 70 per cent. Local authorities should stop the banks from repossessing homes. Local authorities should reassert ownership, let people stay in their homes and let them pay rent. And not just local authorities. After all, the banks only exist because taxpayers have shovelled billions upon billions into their sagging balance sheets. If the government can intervene to stop boardroom excesses, then it can intervene to stop citizens being made homeless and thereby becoming a charge on the state.
The G20 governments have embraced even more tightly the policies that have driven us into slump. The leaders of the G20 countries agreed a joint statement on 16 November, “We underscore the critical importance of rejecting protectionism and not turning inward in times of financial uncertainty”, committing themselves to free trade. Gordon Brown described protectionism as a “road to ruin” and told Mandelson to tell Obama not to protect US industry. But protection is not the enemy: the system itself is the problem.
Pakistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus, Hungary and Iceland are all getting ‘help’ from the IMF, which imposes its usual conditions – liberalise trade, cut welfare and slash public sector wages – sure to make things worse.
Asia won’t escape the crisis, never mind pull us out of it; its countries are too dependent on export markets, foreign debt and overseas investment, unlike in the 1930s when the socialist sixth of the world was safe from the slump.
All over the world, capitalism has decided that the way to deal with the stunning waste, miscalculation, greed and amorality of high finance is to give it even more of our money to play with.
The questions for workers are these: Are they right? Is saving finance capital the only way to save the world? Is propping up Wall Street and the City of London with taxes screwed out of working people what working people want to see? If not, then it’s time to stop moaning and start doing.