Objections to the Politics of the Blockupy Alliance: Resistance Against Impoverishment – for a More Socially Responsible and Democratic Capitalism?
[Translated from: GegenStandpunkt leaflet distributed in Frankfurt]
Europe saves – on the livelihoods of its citizens. The democratic European governments make the lives of their peoples liable for their economies growing too slow and the loss of the creditworthiness of their nations. That’s why the responsible state leaders have prescribed for their citizens an immense package of cuts in social programs. The aggrieved speak up and protest. It is overdue that they do so. Only: how?
“Resistance is necessary: The troika of the EU, ECB and International Monetary Fund use government debt as a lever to enact radical cuts. These are anti-democratic and anti-social.” (Press release from Blockupy-Alliance Frankfurt)
The determination with which all governments in Europe unburden their national budgets from all “unproductive” costs, thus save on the livelihoods of their peoples, shows what the current state necessities are. For these governments, there is “no alternative” to the austerity decree that drastically impoverishes their people. This should be taken seriously by the protesters. For the administrators of the capital location, it’s about the whole thing: the rescue of the euro, the recapitalization of the budget and the recovery of the market economy, which is put in front of the inhabitants of Europe’s capital locations as an indispensable sustenance – that is the reason of state in a market economy, and that is only possible by a drastic deterioration in the living conditions of the population. And indeed not just temporarily, but permanently. The orgies of cutbacks in pensions, health care and generally all areas making up people’s standard of living are proof of this.
Blockupy supporters believe all this need not be if things in Europe went democratically and socially responsibly. From where do they get their certainty that in this country a legal claim against poverty exists? They could not possibly get this from the real existing European democracies.
The objection of Blockupy against the “radical cuts” prescribed by the troika is: “they deepen the crisis.” (Blockupy press release) They are “economically senseless” and would “strangle the recovery”; one should better “evaluate the legality of the public debts in debt audits.” (Attac)
Should one accuse the financial and economic policy-makers of poor management of the crisis? Then what would be one that does the masses well? Should one seriously think in the logic of the managers of the capital locations and the public debt managers about how to lawfully and immaculately clean up government budgets and stimulate the growth of the capitalists’ monetary wealth? How to fix wages so that for the profit makers they are not always merely a cost factor to be lowered, but could also serve to convert their products into cash? Should one therefore imagine the whole capitalist show with its irreconcilable interests – at least alluded to in Blockupy’s resistance slogan! – as a collaborative effort among crisis solvers and make its success a concern?
Blockupy knows a lot of victims of the “troika” other than just the injured people. At least as bad as the “clear-cuts of social programs” should be an “austerity decree,” because it is a decree. What high goods only go to the dogs under the label “undemocratic”! Because surely “the sovereignty of the national parliaments is further restricted” (Attac); some in the Blockupy spectrum really even fret about an erosion of the “king’s right of parliament” which approves funds for the state budget. That’s good: only yesterday, as the Greek, Spanish, etc., parliaments were concluding their austerity decrees at the expense of their peoples, it was said from the spectrum of the “indignados”: “These politicians do not represent us!” And now, where Merkel & Co bring the parliaments of the lesser euro-states into line with capitalist competitive efficiency – here “sovereignty of the national parliament” should be something worth defending? Have you forgotten that these fine institutions are sovereign first and foremost towards their people, who are subject to the decisions of the legislators? The thing with the “loss of sovereignty” is even expandable: “Whole nations will be placed under the cutback decrees of the ECB, IMF and EU: The so-called ‘fiscal pact’ massively restricts the democratic right to self-determination of states.” (GEW – a teacher’s union in Germany). Really great, where the authors make equal signs quite unbiasedly: Damaged interests of the population = erosion of the rights of the ruling figures of parliament over the population = restriction of the rights of the state powers against other state powers!
According to the Blockupy Alliance, “democratization” is due especially in relation to the “power of the banks”: The ECB is “undemocratic, because ‘independent’, thus not democratically controlled. What do we want? Democratization and socialization of the financial sector >> overcoming of capitalist relations” (Blockupy presentation). And what follows from this? A vote by the people on the ECB benchmark interest rate? Or at least a vote on the financial experts who set the ECB rate by a Europe-wide assembly? How high then would an interest rate be that is equally useful for the welfare of the people and the business needs of various capitalistic sectors? For people in the Blockupy Alliance, it is apparently very easy to imagine the lending and borrowing of money at interest, thus the antagonism of creditors and debtors, as an economic communal project. In any event, if a few interventions are carried out from above:
“The profiteers from the crisis must finally participate fairly in its costs. Government revenues must increase and wealth must be massively redistributed. We need stricter taxation on higher incomes and assets as well as a financial transaction tax whose yields are used for fighting poverty and climate change or setting global minimum welfare standards.” (Attac)
Apparently, the social imagination in the Blockupy-spectrum is decidedly underdeveloped. Because under the slogan “overcome capitalist relations!” march again all the authorities and character masks who already called the shots in the bad old relations and caused all the evils listed from A to Z, from poverty to destruction of nature. The wealthy, for example, who Blockupy want to bite property taxes; or the “profiteers from the crisis” who must continue to exist if they should “participate in its costs.” And the poor and global welfare cases are also deemed by these critics of capitalism permanent institutions, if they want to fork out resources by taxing the speculators (yes, they should keep their job too) to “fight poverty and set global minimum welfare standards.” For the state power, the critical alliance also has an – of course, alternative – use: It should put the “predatory” in capitalism on a short leash, which they hold responsible for crisis and the people’s impoverishing instead of capitalism. And at the latest with the controllitis of Blockupy on an imaginary supervisory board of the states over global capitalism, the nationally sorted competing capital locations would become a nice community event, which instead of doing bad does nothing but good deeds.
“We object to all attempts to use nationalist slogans to set employed, unemployed and precariously employed people against each other, no matter whether they live in Germany or Greece, in Italy, France or in other countries. We take a stand for solidarity with the people and movements all over Europe that have been fighting against the attack on their lives and their future in the past months.” (Blockupy call)
This is intended nobly, in the face of the nationalist agitation which the democratic public sphere stages as background music for the crisis. But it is also a bit too near-sighted: The people are certainly not incited against each other only now; and they are certainly not only ideologically worked up – they have long been set against each other in practice, both at home and internationally. The capitalist enterprises and the political directors of the capital locations enlist their workers in a competition waged worldwide. It is the German workers’ cheap labor used by the German employers that, with Germany’s export success, denies the other national workforces in Europe jobs and incomes. To set a demonstrative “stand for solidarity” with all the aggrieved in Europe against the reality of this raging competitive struggle between the national economies and the working classes fastened to it: Isn’t that a bit too cheesy?!
“Of the billions used to ‘rescue’ the euro, not a cent goes to the people in the affected countries. Instead, the lion’s share flows back to the banks themselves.” (Blockupy call)
Yes, what else? The rescue is not meant to “rescue the little guy!” Naturally, the common people do not get the billions from the rescue funds for the banks and debt-ridden state budgets. It serves to rescue the euro, the holy of holies of the capitalist European block. For the governments, which scrimp on every penny for social spending, the billions of dollars to rescue the finance capitals and to avoid the bankruptcy of entire member states has been spent for the purposes intended. Private wealth in money and its growth, which the whole show revolves around, as well as the financial power of the states, with which they manage their capital location – all this is in question when banks crash and entire nations threaten to go bankrupt; and along with it the existence of every single person who in their job and income is made dependent on the money- and financial-system. Rulers of the ilk of the “troika” have really no doubt about which interests in their system have a “systemic” quality – and which just don’t!