As I write these lines the destinies of Greece are being decided in a titanic struggle in which the Greek working class is confronting the big banks and capitalists of all Europe. The EU is subjecting Greece to the most shameless blackmail. They say: either accept draconian cuts in your living standards, or else we will refuse to hand over the next tranche of 12 billion euros.

Capitalism isn't working. Photo: Jeff McNeil

Everywhere you look there is upheaval and crisis, from Europe to Japan and to the United States. This reflects the worldwide malaise of capitalism that is struggling to emerge from the recent slump. This is a confirmation of Marxist ideas, which explains that capitalism is a crisis-ridden system.

A recent edition of The Economist (April 7, 2011) complained about “Capitalism’s waning popularity”. One does not have to be a genius to understand that thirty years or more of cuts in welfare, large scale privatizations and constant pressure on workers in the workplace was sooner or later going to end up with ordinary working people questioning the system that is responsible for these policies, i.e. capitalism.

Yesterday, the US federal reserve announced another round of so called “quantitative easing”, or “printing money” as most people know it. Another $600bn are to be injected into the US economy in order to stave off a double dip recession and to lower unemployment. The US ruling class are worried and are continuing their extraordinary measures, which will further intensify the contradictions in the world economy.

Although everyone has claimed that they have learned the lessons of the 1930s, the ruling classes are again engaging in the same policies that proved so calamitous 80 years ago. Deep tensions inside the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have recently emerged over currency manipulation, as countries take action to defend their own national interests against their rivals. Like gangsters, they can divide out the loot in ‘good times’ but are at each other’s throats in times of difficulty.

Recently the world’s central bankers gathered in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for their annual meeting. Having experienced the biggest banking crisis in history, there was a sense of relief at having avoided a complete collapse. The talk now was of the dust settling. Ben Bernanke, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, despite saying a month earlier that the outlook was “unusually uncertain”, said he was now “confident”. But such confidence is very much misplaced. With the world economy facing at best a painful recovery, and slow anaemic growth, the world’s bankers are deeply troubled as to what steps to take next.

The recent G20 summit in Toronto brought to the surface all the contradictions of global capitalism. Every capitalist nation wants to climb out of the crisis at the expense of its competitors. Everyone is calling for demand to be kept up, while at the same time applying cuts in public spending at home. At the heart of this are the mountains of debt that have accumulated everywhere.

Goldman Sachs has been accused of fraud and is up before the American Securities and Exchange Commission. What is coming out of all this are the clever tricks of the trade, i.e. how to make money from money, without actually investing in the real economy, and in the process “advise” people on how to lose their money while making the likes of Goldman Sachs very rich... until it all crashes of course.

As the world economy emerges from recession it is clear that the recovery is going to be weak. All governments also face a huge debt overhang, which means that whoever is in power will have to carry out stringent economic measures and it is the working class who will be made to pay. This opens up the prospect of huge class contradictions opening up in the coming period.

Billion dollar refineries are closed in one part of the world, while others open elsewhere. This is the craziness of the global capitalist economy. It wastes huge amounts of material and human resources, whereas these same resources could be used in a global plan to develop the economy in way more in line with the interests of all the people of the world.

Banks are paying out huge bonuses to the very same speculators who were responsible for the credit crunch in the first place. Banking is to remain a financial wild west. If we want a financial system that works for the interest of the people we need to get rid of the whole capitalist system.

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