In the dictatorship of the “markets”…
In these ultimate weeks we have witnessed two important aspects of the current global economic crisis: Primarily, the crisis of the capitalism is so profound and structural that there is no “technical” solution (namely economical or financial) in the framework itself and the solution has to be political: The bourgeoisie will manage to destroy all the remains of the conquests of the working class or the working class and all those who suffer from capitalist exploitation will unite and abolish capitalism. Secondly following our first statement, the bourgeoise power started to move away from “formal” democracy and it has started aligning itself with Bonapartism. The humiliating dismissal of the two prime ministers Yorgo Papandreu and Silvio Berlusconi and their replacement with the “technocrat” governments is the latest proof of the two tendencies we have explaind above.
The crisis in Europe decapitated several governments (Portugal, Slovakia, Ireland) who could not “give confidence to the markets” namely, they were not strong enough in their attacks on labor rights and social gains. Thus, the bourgeoise applied electoral methods for the replacement of these “stale” governments with their equally liberal alternatives (and in most cases more liberal), these new governments were in the disguise of majoritarianism (attaining the votes of the majority -in appeareance-). But in Greece and Italy the bourgeoise could not “waste time” with democratic forms. The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy; proclaimed the opinion of Merkel and Sarkozy as such: “there is no time to lose with the electoral game” (El País, 12.11.2011). Two presidents, one being “neo socialist” and the other a “true” rightist submitted their resignations to open the way to the will of the monarchs of capital: Merkel, Sarkozy, Obama, IMF, ECB, etc.
The problem was not that Papandreou or Berlusconi, with all their advisers did not know or could not handle the financial and economic instruments: lowering or raising interest rates, adjustment of the taxes, passing money to the banks, granting credit or limiting it, exporting bonds to the market, cutting off the public spending, privatization of public enterprises… both had already been applying all such measures. But the financial techniques and economic measures were no longer sufficient, and Greece and Italy led the crisis of the euro zone which was a very profound rift for the European Capitalism. The rift was such that it needed a higher political measure to overcome the social and political resistance. Until now, the irrevocable historical instrument of bourgeoise has been: Bonapartism. A method of government which is assisted by the popular will (crystallized in the Parliament), that obliges parties to unite under its authority which has the above-class feature to enforce the policies of the ruling class. Lucas Papademos (Greece) and Mario Monti (Italy) represents this tendency of the European bourgeoisie.
On the further “adjustments” that the bourgeoisie is planning to apply in Greece, it might be asked whether or not if there has been something left to cut in order to pay the debt to national and international speculators. In last two years, the government of PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) has constantly raised taxes on the working class: the VAT on consumer products has been increased from 13% to 23%, the taxes on gasoline, snuff and alcohol have grown around one third of the average. PASOK had also cut public spending, reducing 30% of the wages of the workers in public enterprises, cancelling all temporary contracts, laying off 30,000 employees. On the other hand, the PASOK government expected to recover 50 million euros from the privatization of the key public enterprises which were: the lottery, Hellenic Postbanc, operators of the ports of Piraeusand Thessaloniki and the two water companies. And upcoming sale program for the next year would be the privatization of Helenic Petroleum, the power company PPC, airports, mines and all public property.
What more? The EU Summit of October 26 shows us that there would be more. The European monarchs, in exchange with reducing 100 million euros out of 360 million euro debt of Greece (it was the %28 of the total debt not the %50 which was claimed by the European press) proposed the privatization of the remnants the Greek government. That brought the deeper cuts on health and education, the laying off over 300 million public employees, additional taxes on housing, raising the prices of electricty and gas, but above all changing law of unionization and collective contract. But the problem was not to decide all these measures, it was to implement them. The working class and the Greek peoples have been fighting fiercely against the neoliberal plans of the bourgeoise, questioning the legitimacy of the imperialist impositions and the austerity policies of the Greek government. At this period more than ten general strikes have been organized, and lastly the general strike of 19-20 November which over 1 million people participated opened a deadly crisis within the government itself. Finally (at the end) the PASOK government no longer had the capacity to fullfill the duties imposed by EU and needed a government of “national unity”. And when Papandreu decided to convey this problem to the “nation” with a referandum Merkel and Sarkozy obliged him to leave because the “nation” had nothing to with the debt that the markets imposed (mainly the financial mafia). These “markets” dictated themselves through “Merkozy”: the main parties were obliged to apply the conditions of the “rescue” plan (which were dictated top-down) and they colaborated for the realization of these policies and 19th of February which was chosed as the election day neded to be “flexible”.
A part of the Socialist deputies withdrew their support for Papandreou; the Communist Party on the other hand went with the approach that the referendum was a trap and stated that the defence of the Parliament and democratic institutions was the most essential demand and called for the new elections. The thousands and thousands of people who gave struggle and expected a response from these leaders were left without it. And now a “technocrat,” Lucas Papademos, governs in the name of the Greek national unity, accepted by the majority in the Parliament. This man of banks and financial system, former Vice President of the ECB, a former advisor of Papandreou, Professor of Economics at Harvard University, etc. seems to have every merit except one: “I am not political” he says. A “non-political” person which has not been elected by the people, now represents the “national unity” to implement all the neoliberal plans against the Greek people. Here is the magic (Bonapartist) solution of the bourgeoisie. One essential point to note: Papademos was the one who took the leadership of the Greek Central Bank in 1994 and he signed the agreement for the entry of Greece into the euro system which eliminated the drachma. We all know that it was discovered then that the accounts presented to the EU by the Greece were all made up. This is the man who will “clean up” the economy of Greece!
In Italy, the ‘the national unity’ against the people was even more necessary because the ‘distrust to the markets’ was more profound. Because the sovereign debt of Italy is nothing less than 1.900.000 milion euros, 121% of their GDP (more than the GDP of Portugal, Greece and Spain put together) and the economy (which is the third economy in the EU) was giving signs of recession. For this reason it was evident that the Government wouldn’t be able to pay his debt folowing the deadlines that had been set. Moreover, the Government’s bonds were already reaching the market barrier of 7%, inflating the debt and obliging the Italian Government to search for a 300.000 million euro refinaciation for the next year’s budget (an amount very close to the debt Greece must -theoretically- pay in twenty years). The ECB’s arks (as in Noa’s Ark from the Bible) will not arrive to ‘rescue’ this immense black hole that could drag the entire euro zone to a massive destruction. With this terribly wounded monster in sight, the imperialist European hierarchy decided that Berlusconi must go.
Why did Berlusconi’s Government have to go? Firstly, because the measures that they had to apply were not insignificant for the Italian workers, who have been fighting more and more everyday against the liberal plans. The imposed obligations under the capital Troika (EU, ECB, IMF) included, among other measures, the budget balance of 2013 (supposing cuts in every public service), the labor market reform, the increase of the VAT, the freezing of the salaries within the public sector, and the postponing of the age of retirement. These measures would surely find popular resistance and this resistence would be at a level that the already disprestiged and politically deplored Berlusconi would not be able to overcome.
Secondly, the divisions between the Italian burgeoisie were so profound that Berlusconi couldn’t unify the hegemonical clases under his leadership. Actually, the president of the ‘scandalous parties’ had never tried. What he was busy with instead were the
interests of his own companies and his network of clients/suporters/patronage. Three years earlier, he came into power with the support of the Northern League. The great italian Confindustria (Italian employers federation) was not pleased with Berlusconi’s victory against Prodi’s center left party. Prodi’s party had not been able to succesfully apply the ‘structural reforms’ that the Italian and European fİnancial capital had deemed crucial. Confindustria, profoundly Europeist and a strong defender of the attacks against Italian workers, finally gave in and supported the Troika’s decision to send the fool (Berlusconi) home with laughter and jeers when the premium risk reached unsustainable levels. The spokesman of Cofindustria, Il Sole 24 Ore, wrote in his editorial on November 9th: “Time is the greatest of all priviledges (…) and we no longer have time. Europe does not give us time and we have three days to establish a calender and the measures that undertake the recommendations -that have been given by Merkel, Sarkozy and the ECB in the last G20 summit.” So the European Council sentenced that Italy ‘needed reforms, not elections’ and for this reason, again, they needed a ‘national unity’ government with a ‘technocrat not a politician’ at the head of it. And the Italian bourgeoisie closed ranks to comply with the new mandate.
Deepening of the class struggle
When Obama said in November 15 that the solution of the crisis in Europe was “political and not merely technical,” he was right from the point of view of the class he represented: the imperialist bourgeoisie. The world’s financial capital, which is known as “the markets”, “investors” etc. by the media; puts pressure on governments to make “structural reforms” that enables them to fulfill their mandate to plunder the people for being able to pay the interest of the banks, investment firms, mainly speculators. And we all know these structural reforms include layoffs, salary reductions, cuts in health and education and the taking away the ruins which are left of welfare state (unemployment benefits, pensions, social security etc.), new taxes for the already impoverished, privatization; flexibilization in work, the weakening of the unions, the worsening of labor laws and collective contract …
Because of the resistance and the growing indignation of the masses, these measures are not easy to apply at all. In fact, any government that will try to implement these policies will rapidly lose popularity and sow a political crisis in his own country. But Greece and Italy were already beyond the red line of a crisis which could be resolved within the framework of “formal” democracy, which is mainly political alliances from their own parliaments. So imperialism imposed the “technocrat” governments for making even more savage policies possible against the workers and popular classes. Thus, the national bourgeoisie discharges responsability from itself complying and benefiting from the policies of these governments and while attacking the working class, justifies itself with the excuse of foreign imposition. And not just in those countries: Spain was also in line but it had a unique advantage of being in election period, otherwise, the socialist president, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, would have been sent home by the weakness to execute in terms of the capital.
After the World War II Europe was the continent where the working class had the most advanced and progressive social and labor rights. But in the last 40 years the favorable cycle of capitalism ended up causing a long period of deterioration of these benefits, and creating a strucutural crisis. In this respect, the EU was built by the the European bourgeoise, especially from Germany, England and France as a counter-revolutionary project to eliminate the conquests of workers and with the objective of raising the level of explotation. This way they would reverse the decline of the capitalist benefits. However, they encountered the resistance of the organized workers and the popular clases that wanted to preserve the conquests of what is called the Welfare State.
The crisis of capitalism depends on the level of ‘class struggle’: if the workers resist capitalism, the latter drags itself more and more to the abyss. All the attempts to invent new ways to obtain the profit (fincancial speculation, housing bubbles, wars, etc.) ends up with a new crisis for capitalism. The present crisis is very deep, maybe even deeper than the one in 1939. The workers’ rights and those of other social strata became a mortal obstacle for the capitalists. The urgency to apply ‘structural reforms’ brings the directors of EU to apply Bonapartist political measures to overcome the governmental and parliamentary ‘weaknesses’ of its members. All the countries whose governments can not overcome the working class resistance will be punished by European imperialism, lead by Germany and the punishments will not only be with monetary fines or expulsion from the EU, but also with imposing ‘technocratic governments’ under the tutoring of the Troika. At the moment when the ‘technocratic governments’ are given a ‘democratic’ aspect, they started looking for political support in the current parliaments. However, seeing that it is very probable that these goverments will fail, on what powers will these non elected governments rely on? The entirety of the current economic and political process anounces the deepening of the class struggle.
Despite this panorama, there is an incapacity or a apparent betrayal of the worker organizations and of the institutional left. When stregthening the resistence struggles of the workers by encouraging and working towards their unifcation and coordination at a national and european level is necessary, they on contrarily rush to serve their governments and their national bourgeoise to help comply with the European imperialist plans. Seeing this, preparation for the rejection of the ‘rescue plans’ and making unified resistance plans is the only way that we can find a different way exit this crisis using an alternative logic.The following are the necessary demands: 1) Not paying the debt, a guaranty of the basic social services like housing and creating public jobs for everyone. 2) Nationalization of the banks and of the vital sectors of the economy and putting them under the control of the workers 3) Public investment plan with worthy/fair jobs and salaries 4) Division of labor between who is available 5) Guaranty of pensions and salaries.
For the formation of this process a broad front of political and labour organizations is necessary to break with the plans of the EU and of the IMF.
As the International Liaison Committee we call the workers of all Europe to organize and strengthen the fight against the imperialist plans. We must reclaim the sovereignty of the people against the imperialist tutelage and we must claim an exit to the crisis which is in favor of the workers and the exploited and opressed peoples. It is crucial to support the fight of the workers and peoples of Greece, which is its most advanced state at the moment, and against the imperialist European economic impositions on the road to an European General Strike.