Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Anti-Capitalism: Where we were right...

This is an interesting article that puts the blame for the current financial crisis on several main areas;

1. Smashing the unions so they would not get in the way of the greed-grab. Which is a point well made by Dave Douglass about the Miners Strike of 1984-5 saying that the union had to be broke to bring in Neoliberalism - worth listening to him! (part 1 and 2)
2. Pushing deregulation everywhere - and using the shackles of debt left over from the failed regemes of the cold war as a means to push it. Sadly, that's why Drop the Debt and Make Poverty History failed - debt = control.
3. Allowing money to cross boarders without impunity. (But people can't unless it is as a semi-legal work force you can use to drive down wave costs)
4. Smashing indigenous peoples to keep the supply of raw goods (oil, timbers) in thier lands coming into the market. See Jensen! "From the beginning, this culture - civilization - has been a culture of occupation."
5. Offering cheap almost unregulated debt to keep consumers buying.

The political forces that coalesced and mobilized behind these transitions had a distinctive class character and clothed themselves in the vestments of a distinctive ideology called neoliberal. The ideology rested upon the idea that free markets, free trade, personal initiative, and entrepreneurialism were the best guarantors of individual liberty and freedom and that the "nanny state" should be dismantled for the benefit of all. ... The interests of the people were secondary to the interests of capital, and in the event of a conflict between them, the interests of the people had to be sacrificed ... The system that has been created amounts to a veritable form of communism for the capitalist class.

It is interesting that all of these were a big feature of the anti-capitalist critique of the late 90s and early 2000s. It was predicted then that it all all start to fall apart - and it did. This is similar to another article in the Guardian:

The movement, which was essentially demanding democratic control over the global economy, wreathed summit after summit of the G8, the WTO and the World Bank with protest and teargas. It was wild, infuriating, diverse and sometimes incoherent, as only a network that encompasses indigenous peoples, radical environmentalists, workers and kids in hoodies could be. The movement was like the child in the crowd as the emperor of global neoliberalism wheeled by, pointing out that his cloaks were woven from financial fictions and economic voodoo. They must now be credited for their prescience. (my emphasis!)

That said, there were also things that we were wrong about (and I use 'we' in the board sense of some in the anti-capitalist movement - it is a broad church!) I am writing somthing longer on this I hope to publish soon on my blog...

1 comment:

Ben said...

The anti-capitalist movement was also right about the 'War on Terror', and in the next decade will almost certainly be proved right about climate change.

What I do think, though is that after being pushed out of the spotlight for a decade or so by the economic 'boom', and TWoT, it's time to start finding common ground with people, rather as the Zapatista 'We are You' is intended to do. There hasn't been such widespread disaffection with mainstream politics for ages. I'd be willing to bet too, that certain anarchist ideas, like the collective ownership and control of the workplace, is something that most people want, but don't think possible. Shares, after all, are given out to employees (in small amounts) to foster loyalty. In addition, the Tories, rather like Labour a decade ago, are also looking at forms of direct democracy, though they are banking on a resurgent class system to prevent its full expression.

But these are just guesses, I reckon a bit of research is called for. The current model of dissent, as far as I can work out is for people to live as far outside of the system as possible, and to use direct action to change the parts of the system they find most offensive. But really, if anarchism, or ideas related to anarchism have legs, they must be taken up by large numbers of people who wouldn't normally identify with the movement.

It might be a good idea to find ways of dissenting that directly benefit people, some kind of mass-default on debt perhaps?