For a while now, politicians, economists and the press across the world have been talking about ‘the worst economic crisis since the 1930s’, a crisis ‘worse than the Great Depression’, the’ worst in human history’, a ‘disaster’, a ‘catastrophe’, ‘financial Armageddon’, ‘eurogeddon’, an ‘apocalyptic crisis’, ‘another Lehman’s’ and the ‘collapse of the global economy’…Extreme statements from those in power…Meanwhile they have been telling us ‘we’re all in it together ‘, ‘there is no alternative’ and that we must ‘tighten our belts’, and accept austerity as the only real solution to this crisis, which was needless to say, of their own making. They talk constantly about ‘the recovery’ when in fact we are not in a recession, but an ongoing stagflationary depression, avoiding the fact that the world’s entire financial system is insolvent, bankrupt, and that they simply do not have a solution which does not involve provoking a further collapse in demand for products and services and a further fall in our incomes and living standards.
Crisis? What crisis?
The ruling classes across Europe and the USA are paralysed by the fear of collapse and the resumption of the class conflict, as they shovel the massive debts created by the casino culture of the markets from banks to governments and back again, bailing out one and then the other in a cycle which has come to be known a ‘kicking the can down the road’, or more plainly as ‘buying time’. They are terrified of the effects a rapid, large-scale economic collapse, one that would impoverish so many, so quickly, that mass social unrest across Europe and the US would be inevitable. The best they can do in the meanwhile, as they ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’, is to get their retaliation in first and attack working class people with a grinding austerity, using the crisis as an opportunity to make ‘structural reforms’ in order to make national economies more ‘competitive’ with low wage economies like China and India- in effect this means destroying the Social Contract that has existed in the western world since the end of the Second World War- where the state promised to offer a social safety net to negate the worst effects of industrial capitalism (low wages, poverty, ill health, poor housing etc.).
Attacking our class
These attacks mean the removal of workers’ legal rights (‘de-regulating the labour market’), the destruction of social welfare (unemployment and sickness benefits, pensions), an increase in taxes, the end of the trade union right to collective bargaining, the destruction of free socialised healthcare and subsidised housing. In Greece, the current guinea pig for ‘reform’, people are being forced to work for as little as one or two euros an hour- their health system is currently being liquidated and public education has suffered an 80% cut in funding.
The object of this assault is to drive down wages to ‘attract investment’, expand profit margins and to suck more wealth out of society to fill the gaping black hole of debt within the system. The aim is to ‘boil the frog slowly’, so that we are supposed to barely notice the fact that we are being bled dry by the super-rich, to be pacified by poverty, so that when the crash comes we’ll meekly accept it, and to buy them time before it hits. China, India and Brazil are now held up as our competitors, and western nations aim to compete with these nations that have very, very, low wages, poor human rights records and virtually no social protection. It’s a double irony, since it was the west that gave these countries their industrial boost, through globalisation, that transformed them from ‘Third World’, to ‘developing nations’ and now LICs- Late Industrialising Countries, but even these countries are experiencing problems with overproduction, property bubbles, falling wages, rising prices and mass social unrest.
Rich pigs at the trough
They say ‘labour costs are too high’, they complain that ‘people are living much longer’ so that pensions and ‘cradle to the grave’ social healthcare can no longer be afforded. This economic logic comes from a specific frame of reference; one whereby the rich are taxed as little as possible, where corporations are ‘excused’ paying enormous tax bills, where swollen military expenditures go untouched, where the banks stay unregulated in their gambling, where the length of the working day is held in sacrosanct, where rents are not controlled and bankers and executives are still taking grotesque bonuses. The bourgeoisie think they have a god-given right to ramp-up the exploitation of ordinary working class people, and that paying tax is some sort of socialist imposition, they seem to have forgotten that this society requires systems of reproduction to maintain their exploitation- health, housing, social services- but apparently they are no longer prepared to fork out for it. They portray the poor as ungrateful and greedy all the while slobbering over their absurdly bloated fortunes. Austerity is a false solution and an ideological opportunity for the rich.
The origins of the crisis were sown when western businesses stripped out of their manufacturing industries in the process of globalisation, over the last 30 years, through off-shoring and outsourcing, seeking low-wage economies in the developing world with which to make yet more profit, they have found themselves without a sound economic basis with which to maintain western society. The advent of the Information Revolution also meant that productivity and profits rocketed with the computerisation and automation of many workplaces and jobs, massively cutting the most expensive overhead of any business- labour, both in the west and in countries like China, India and Brazil. This process created an enormous slush fund of cash which produced the western credit bubble, where there was nothing to do but make ‘money from money’ with easy loans, and investment in the overproduction of housing. In a frenzy of greed the banks lend this surplus cash left, right, and centre, believing that growth was infinite, until the bubble burst. The rising cost of a diminishing oil supply- the lifeblood of industry, has also eaten into the mirage of ever-expanding demand and profits.
The politicians, and their paymasters, the bankers, after keeping all their profits private and paying very little, or no tax, have socialised their losses through government bail-outs are now blaming those same national governments for ‘running up a deficit’ by overspending on social programs- never mind the fact that national governments have always been in debt to some extent, never mind the fact that these debts actually ballooned due to the government’s bailing out their national banking systems in 2008…Or that the reason that they got into trouble in the first place was an ideologically driven desire to ‘free’ the markets from any legislation that would limit their ability to make vast sums of cash regardless of any possibly negative social costs…
Where we’re at
In the UK the richest 1000 have increased their wealth by as much as the national debt over the past four years…One quarter of working-age adults are on benefits- Successive British governments have preferred to borrow money from the international markets, rather than properly tax their wealthy friends, the richest individuals, the banks and corporations, so that they can maintain an acceptable standard of living (or rather, consumption), and to subsidise low wages for the bulk of the population, through welfare benefits and the easy, and profitable, credit loans from banks. Needless to say, any industry that could have provided work was shipped abroad in search of lower wage costs. Both Labour and Tory governments have recognised that regulation of the banking sector and workers rights are an obstacle to profit taking, and while the wealthy in this country have indulged in an orgy of material gluttony they have proved that the illusion of a compensatory ‘trickle-down economics’ to be a grotesque lie, since it turned out to be a deluge of banker’s stale champagne piss of debt (see how the housing market benefited from the inflated pricing, lead by the bankers).
With rising unemployment and prices the government is still absolutely determined to force through a draconian reversal of all the social protections that have been put in place over the last 70 years. They have all but destroyed pensions for public sector workers; they are well on their way to privatising the National Health Service. They’re itching to remove all the rights workers have in the workplace-protection from arbitrary sacking, sickness pay, union organising, collective bargaining, anti-discrimination legislation. Public housing is also under attack, leaving people at the mercy of greedy, unregulated, landlords. Benefits are being withdrawn from the sick and the disabled- the blind, the terminally ill and kids with autism are not excluded. People are to be forced away from their families and communities by swingeing housing benefit cuts. The unemployed are being forced into degrading Workfare schemes to ‘help them back to work’, which in reality is merely conditioning them, through virtual slave labour, to accept the lowest wages possible- in an economy with few decent jobs. Local services are being decimated by ongoing cuts that in reality have no end. There are still 700,000 public sector jobs waiting to be destroyed. All these attacks are a form of soft power- a form of silent violence that devastates people’s lives. Rickets, bedbugs, hungry school children, slums have already reappeared; food-banks quietly feed those who cannot afford to feed themselves.
The ConDem coalition, lacking any clear mandate, has gleefully charged ahead with these savage attacks, safe in the knowledge that the Labour Party and the TUC- supposedly the organisations representing ordinary working and unwaged people have done nothing, nothing to combat these attacks. Statistics are milked and manipulated to give the appearance that all is well, that ‘the recovery’ is just around the corner- child poverty, inflation and unemployment figures ceased to reflect reality some time ago. The Unions make much sound and fury, but will happily put the noose around their own neck and effectively colluding in their own abolition.
You may not be interested in economics, but it is interested in you.
Nobody represents our class now; nobody in power has our interests at heart. The rich have declared war on us, knowing full well that the crisis has yet to manifest itself fully, thanks to the efforts of the ruling class playing pass-the-parcel with billions. Prior to the crisis, in ‘normal’ times, people were contented to be exploited at the usual 70% rate, (our gift to the bosses) so long as they could play the game, save a little and enjoy some of the fruits of their labour. That option is now over. The battle lines between labour and capital are being drawn up. We have no obligation to those fuckers who have none towards us- the social contract is utterly broken, and political stability will vanish in a crash.
The writing’s on the wall
People will be unable to ignore the crash when it comes. The world economy is balanced on a knife edge, with governments being too slow to react to the capricious, volatile markets (particularly in Europe) and at the same time being beholden to them. The twin illusions of growth and recovery cannot be maintained forever. No-one can say exactly when the crash will come, it could be months, possibly years, but it remains a fact that the west is in an economic death-spiral. Greece may well default by the end of the year, Spain may well require another bail-out, which may end by crippling the European banking system.. The west may seek to start a major war in the Middle East to bail themselves out and to stimulate growth through ‘creative destruction’, AKA mass murder- but this itself is a huge risk that may negatively impact the west’s economy should the supply of oil be affected. They may opt for an authoritarian solution, brushing aside the present, limited, democracy that so inhibits the accumulation of wealth.
While the rich bastards bathe in champagne, snort coke from the bellies of escorts, stuff their faces with gourmet shit and buy yet another house, Rolex, race horse or sports car, people are being pushed further and further into poverty. Establishment corruption is endemic and acknowledged even by the system itself, and people have a breaking point -we must be prepared to present an uncompromising hatred for those who actively deny us any quality of a decent life, who see us merely as ‘units of labour’ or consumers of crap, those who would make us homeless, hungry, unwaged, denied benefits or make our kids go hungry. We must be prepared to take whatever action is necessary to ensure our rights, to resist their attacks and to take our opportunity to push on to autonomously establish a social and economic system that meets all of our needs, not one that serves the greed of a disgusting, selfish and amoral minority of upper class cunts, who have absolutely sympathy for their victims, and so we should have none for them. ‘Tough’ as David Cameron says. There will be revolt, and the riots of 2011 will look like child’s play. Capitalism is over- bar the shouting – and there will be a lot of that…
“War, Class war, and you were the first to wage it under the cover of the powerful institutions you call order, in the darkness of your laws. There will have to be bloodshed; we will not dodge….because it is necessary; there will have to be destruction; we will destroy to rid the world of your tyrannical institutions.”
Luigi Galleani, 1919
The rich are our misfortune.