Anti-capitalists – big winners of the crisis?

Anti-capitalist march outside Wall Street on 25 September. Image posted on Flickr by Christy Thornton.

While the financial world as we know it crashes down around our ears, the West's age-long love affair with capitalism is finally being brought into question. Which is why, anti-capitalists from around the world explain, their gates are being flooded with new members.

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"We welcome new fighters with open arms"

John Mullen is a New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) activist from southwest France. He writes an anti-capitalist blog.

In the blink of an eye, we've found out that they've been lying to us all along: their rotten, profit dictated, privatised system doesn't bring about stability, but panic and recession. And yet, instead of lessening the power of the big capitalists, they propose that we relieve the capitalists of their debts, and yet still let them keep their profits! We seem to find billions of euros for them! The cupboards were bare for pensions, education and health, but they're overflowing to save the skin of the criminals that dominate our society.

Although people don't believe the clowns dressed up as "economic experts" anymore, they now feel hopeless. Our work is to bring the spirit back; to encourage the resistance - against the privatisation of [France's] post office, against the cuts in teaching posts, for the increase of the minimum wage etc. The cupboards aren't bare - they lied to us! Sarkozy said recently that anti-capitalism is not the solution. For him and his friends driving around in Mercedes and sailing on yachts it's not. But for the common man, it's the only solution. We're stirring up enormous interest - we welcome new fighters with open arms. In other countries too, our friends are mobilising against capitalism."

"This kind of crisis shouldn't happen in Argentina; a country rich is resources"

Nora Morales de Cortiñas is a member of Madres de Plaza de Mayo (Mothers of Plaza de Mayo), an activist group formed by mothers whose children "disappeared" under Argentina's extreme-right military dictatorship of 1976 - 1983.

This kind of crisis shouldn't happen in Argentina; a country rich in resources. We have 50 billion dollars of reserves, yet the military dictatorships and the democratic governments have followed each other in running the country in a terrible fashion; leaving it without developed planning or industrial relations policies, laden with debt... They better use this opportunity to explain their poor management. The payment of the debt to the Paris Club of creditor nations and the poor negotiations surrounding the affair is an insult to all those who disappeared during the military dictatorship and who dreamed of a united and socialist country."

"Russia will be the worse to suffer, and that means that the political system here will see bigger changes"

Sergey Rodionov is the main finance specialist of Russia's banned National-Bolshevik Party (NBP), a nationalist-communist party.

The world crisis is nothing new or unexpected for us. It's been known since Marx's times that the capitalist system would inevitably face a crisis of overproduction. Competition between producers means they have to minimise on spending, and one of the things they minimise on is wages. Workers therefore have less to spend, and so competition increases further... And so on and so forth down this deflation spiral, until some external force helps out.

And the capitalist system has its old remedy to the problem - a depression in demand is cured by a credit injection. Capitalism should have remembered one of its forgotten prophets, Ludvig von Mises, who said that the credit injection is a medicine that's worse than the illness. But it helps to extend the time between each crisis. It was used by the Reagan administration and set the fate of the current economic system. Its end is manifested in a series of collapses of financial bubbles.

The world crisis will strike Russia worse than other countries because a decrease in industrial production will cause a drop in the price of raw materials - which Russia is entirely dependent on. Russia will be the worse to suffer, and that means that the political system here will see bigger changes. As the rest of the world shrivels and looks in vain for an escape from existing political ideologies and structures, Russia, completely renovated, will become a leader showing the way."

"Nationalisation has been a dirty word in the UK for decades and this might change that"

Charlie Kimber is an organiser and activist for the Socialist Workers' Party in the UK.

For the past 30 years all the parties that have been in power in the UK have told us that the only way society can run is by allowing the markets to rip through economic frameworks. This idea has now been shattered: it will change the way people view politics forever. It will also push them to ask some questions - if they [the government] have the money to safeguard this kind of event, why don't they have money to ensure jobs, to prevent homelessness, to improve healthcare or to bolster pensions? And if it's the state that helps the banking sector out, should the banks not be run in the interests of people rather than in the interests of a select few? Nationalisation has been a dirty word in the UK for decades and this might change that.

Brown got a small boost from the crisis because it reminded everyone how toxic the Conservative Party is in terms of its closeness to bankers and elitists. But what we would really like to see come from the crisis is some kind of united front to the left of the Labour Party; the equivalent of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire in France [The Revolutionary Communist League]."

"To intervene in the market, is to rescue the capitalists"

Zuangchen is an anonymous blogger from China. His entry was originally posted here.

Within a few days of each other, all of China's local governments applied measures in order to be able to intervene in the market. Obviously, instructions had been sent from central government. Intervening in the market is designed both to stabilise local economy and lessen the impact of the crisis. But to intervene in the market also implies maintaining the high housing prices in the country, and that not only protects the interests of the government, but also protects the capitalists. To intervene in the market, is to rescue the capitalists.

And when the government rescues the capitalists, they sacrifice the common people. (...) With house prices as they are, you'll be paying your mortgage until thirty years after you've retired. This means the common family can't buy a house. So by intervening in the market and keeping house prices up, the government is also keeping young people from getting on the property ladder. It's not only an economic measure, but also a political move."

"We have no illusions of toppling the government in the next few months"

Alex Foti is member of Confederazione Unitaria di Base (Unitary Confederation from Below) and of the EuroMayDay network.

Italy's going to be very negatively affected by this crisis because the policies put forward by Berlusconi are the exact opposite of what should be needed. Even though our finance minister, Giulio Tremonti, says he opposes the free market, he's been respecting financial orthodoxy and embracing the Treasury View that Keynes opposed! The government is cutting spending at the worst possible moment.

However, although Berlusconi's government is being damaged by the crisis, the left is not intellectually strong enough at this moment to use the opportunity. It's society that has been mobilising. On Friday there was a general strike organised by the three alternative unions, including mine, against cuts in public education and public services.

It was the first time the non-mainstream unions managed to paralyse both Milan and Rome. We have no illusions of toppling the government in the next few months. But we're mobilising strongly... students, teachers, bus drivers. And the movement is growing by the day."

 

Protest in Wall Street 25 October:

Posted by "SAJU0"30 September 08.

 

Protest in the City, London, 10 October 08:

Posted by "leninology" 10 October 08.

Comments

The New Appeal Of Communism!

Communism first caught on in the United States with the 1888 publication of Edward Bellamy’s ‘Looking Backwards.’ To all those waiting for capitalism to fall here – its obviously only a matter of time. I suggest you start holding your breath now.

What of socialism?

It is interesting that the only person here who speaks of the ‘dream of a socialist country’ (reminding people of alternatives available in the past) is Nora Morales de Cortiñas from the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo in Argentina. When are we, the Left in Europe, going to learn from our south american friends and start to put socialism back on the agenda? Why the hesitation? We need to begin to articulate alternatives, otherwise events will pass us by as the dynamics of this particular capitalist crisis, neoliberal crisis, accelerate in all the spheres.

What alternative?

Certainly our governments are now promising "regulation", Sarkozy is even talking of "refounding capitalism". It is definitely a better idea to abolish it rather than refound it. That is to say that the market economy, making everything depend on profitability, doesn't work. So what we need is democratic control of the economy by the people who do the work. Naturally I'm not talking about a system like the Soviet Union or Cuba, where there was/is extremely little democratic control of anything. We need socialism from below...

El gran capital

This is the inevitable outcome of a ‘el gran capital’; a system which is solely geared to the amassing of great fortunes in the hands of very few people, and I am above all saddened by the fact that it is the poor who will be first and most affected by this crisis. Spain however, will not be as badly as affected as others for two positive reasons. Firstly, we're not so dependent on the US as other European nations. And secondly, safeguards put it place by Zapatero's PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party) have helped to bolster the damage. However, despite this, I still think the right-wing opposition will manage to use the crisis against them. People in Spain are easily swayed by criticism from other parties. They don't care how come or how badly, they just care that they're being affected somehow, and they'll find it easy to blame the party in power. Hopefully by the time we have our next elections, the crisis will have been forgotten.

Pakistan's privatisation

During the past few decades all of our national assets have been frittered or given away to outside interests. These are the things that you don't sell – utilities like electricity and gas. Musharraf put the whole country on sale, leaving nothing for the people. And the same policies have continued with our new president, Asif Ali Zardari. He's a president without a voice!

Although we don't go in for hedge funds and things like that, this crisis affects us anyway because we're "owned" by countries which do. I do think this will wake people up to the dangers of capitalism. But it's not going to happen overnight. I'm not an anti-capitalist, but it does need to be capped and regulated.

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