mercredi 8 octobre 2008

On remaining calm

The papers are presenting the nationalisation of the banks as an entirely expected and ordinary late train kind of thing. The Guardian almost off-handedly announced that the deal will cost each man woman and child two thousand pounds. The figures vary, as usual, The Times estimates that the bail out will mount to around two billion pounds.

It almost goes without saying that it goes without saying that these are enormous amounts of money. Importantly, the media are certainly not putting these colossal figures into any kind of context. That would only serve to stir people's sense of justice. Yes, I said "sense of justice", because one of the many things one must remember in these splendidly darkening times, is that throughout the terrible neolib epoch , i.e. from about 1979 -2008, the majority of people in opinion polls remained 'stubbornly' left leaning. ('Stubbornly', that is, after years of indoctrination and political betrayal). To give people the idea of what this scandal involves - for that is what it truly is - one huge gigantic scandal - would make us think about what the handout means.

Meaning. The philosopher strokes her chin. In the sense of use for the moment. Let us remain pragmatic, after all pragmatism has worked out so well recently. The fifty billion sum represents two thousand pounds from everyone. Now, clearly that won't mean the government is going to take that amount from our bank accounts. The effect will be far worse. It will mean that the already paultry social spending 'targets' will be reduced or scrapped. It will mean our living standards will decline further and quicker than we had hitherto feared.

Money that was allocated for hospitals, schools, wages, pensions and infracstructural spending will be siphoned off to prop up the banks. And fifty billion is just an opening gambit. The actual figure could be four, five times as much. Eight thousand pounds per person. Ten thousand. . . The true consequences of this move, though, are efaced by presenting it in such individual ways.

For as the riches from the boom years were unevenly distributed, so to will the costs. The poor, the old and the ill will pay disproportionally far more than those who have already done fantastically well out of the one party neoliberal state we have been living under up to this point.

Take pensions. On the French TV is was scrolled that the crisis has already cost the US public and pension funds two trillion dollars - which is around, what, 1.4 trillion pounds. Now, the wrong question is to ask "Where has all that money gone?" Because it was never really there in the first place. You have got to think about pensions as a form of tax. That money was removed from you and me and invested by the banks. We now know just in what they invested the money. They blew it. They spunked it all away on luxury lifestyles, an orgy of gigantic spending at everyone else's, the broad masses' expense.

There is no bill to pick up. There is just now, the realisation by many others further down the pyramid scheme that the duping is over.

That, and the classic crisis of overproduction that has hit the West just at the same time. For, really, it is this that is the heart of the crisis. The rate of profit has fallen, there have been too many goods being made and investments are not generating sufficient return. It is a pincer movement. On the one hand bank insolvency on the other falling profit returns. Worse, wages have been reduced in the same epoch. This is the cause. If wages had risen enough, there wouldn't have been a subprime crisis. But that was never going to happen.

How to respond to this. Firstly, to keep talking about the sheer scale of this. Not just on blogs or with trusty comrades. With anyone. People on the train, bus at jobcentresss, pub, queue. One must stop being so reserved. This is not some 1987 mini-panic or just a tech bubble bursting. The sudden lurch into near panic over the last few days and the fact that the tumult has gone on now for over a year mean that this is indeed "the real deal". On the left, one may have grown accustomed to hearing doom laden forecasts about the imminent collapse of capitalism and yawned all through this, so far. That, it seems certain now, would be a mistake. One must spread discontent about the huge scale of the handout for the rich. For that is what it is. In the media, the bailout is being presented calm neutral tones. The elites are concerned what political effects this crisis will have. They don't want people on the streets. To prevent that, they have to dominate the debate and reduce people's sense of alarm, indignation and anger. That must be countered. Remember, word of mouth is stronger than government adverts - which we all know - is just about all the media are in this current debacle. (OK, always, but that's another blogpost). Talk about the ripoff in your own terms. Do not use the language that the BBC, The Guardian, The Times or the other nozzles use. Invent a 'Vocabulary of Rage' - 'creditcrunch', 'bailout', 'normal' 'subprime' - these terms are worn out. Transcend them.

Secondly, organise. The Labour Party obviously are part of the problem and have to be discounted. The Conservatives likewise. Don't even bother mentionng the other lot. One has to be doubtful about the entire range of parties currently on offer. Those isolated leftwingers dotted about the country - to whom this blog is aimed (!) - do not sit back and wait for the system to collapse all on its own. It needs your help for that. There's a march in London this weekend (see Lenin's Tomb for details) talk to people around you and inform them of this event. It's only a start. It won't be a February 2005. But the more people you can get to go the less effect the elites' message will have about this social theft. The old ways of representative democracy are crumbling infront of us. To remain passive would mean - well it's best not to think of what that would mean. The future comes soon enough without trying to predict it. But voting, well, that's all over, one way or another now.

Finally stay angry about this. It is direct theft in favour of the rich. Really a true revolutionary would be angry all the time about what's being going on the last thirty years or so, but this theft is different in that it is so open to view. It is the system's mechanics revealed. It is how things operate. One could go on using analogy and metaphor for pages, but you get the point. To let a political opportunity like this pass by without capitalising on it for socialist and revolutionary purposes would be another scandal. For this state of affiars cannot be allowed to go on. The lie about if we don't dutifully hand over our money to the banks then there will be economic collapse is really not even a lie, because to be a lie, something has to be believable. Economic collapse is happening right there outside right at this very moment and giving money to the banks won't change that. They are scared to lend to eachother, not because of some wil o' the whisp notion of trust. Remember blogocomrades, these are bankers. 'Trust' is just a word. They aren't lending because the returns just aren't there anymore.

So why give them money? Perhaps the government really is run by overeducated morons. It's a distinct possibility. Maybe they think that a mere fifity billion or so will make all the difference in the world. OK let's see let's have a look at the FTSE. Maybe this plaster will provide relief....Just looked and all Europen stock markets are down five percent. This on top of the DOW dropping 500 points last night. The give away will have no effect.

The money then can only be going to the people at the 'top'. The economic collapse is something they have known about for years. They knew what was coming. They've read their Marx, at least. That money is one last gouge from the public weal, before times become intolerable. Maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps there'll be a few more if people don't react too badly to this one. They are making sure they have enough liquidity to get by in the coming catastrophe. The government is merely a conduit, a clutch of willing useful idiots, that gives a cover for their gluttony and theft. So the third point is do not stay calm. Do not fall for the national unity nonsense that is sure to be unleashed in the coming months. There is no 'we' on a 'national' scale. There really are, now just the workers facing the bankers and bosses. It is as clear as day.

"And how long does it take a hungry public to turn mean? "

"It is equal to nearly 40 percent of Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP)."
Do not reamain calm.