Tuesday 21 October 2008

Immoral Monetarist Fools

Despite his apology for having an affair (BBC News: IMF chief apologises for affair), I have no sympathy for the director of the International Monetary Fund. But my grievance with the IMF runs far deeper than this sex scandal, whatever its implications.

The IMF is a tool of the international capitalist Establishment, largely controlled by the rich and powerful G8 countries (including Britain and the US), which effectively holds the purse strings of poor countries which are heavily in debt. And uses this power to impose destructive neoliberal policies, such as privatisation and cut backs in essential services such as health care and subsidies, in return for limited debt relief and even more limited aid (which often has more strings attached than Tracy Island :-P )

But even in terms of the sex scandal, I don't feel any sympathy for him. Especially not while teachers who have affairs with students over the age of 16 are still put on the Sex Offenders Register (BBC News: Sex laws are 'unfair to teachers'). If it is the case that teachers are a special case because of their position of power over students, why should it stop with teachers? I am incredulous that any boss, of any organisation, does not have a position of power over his or her employees. (That includes MPs who have affairs with their secretaries!) But whatever the outcome of the investigation, the IMF boss is extremely unlikely to suffer such hardships as being labelled a sex offender.

And before anyone accuses me of making light of 'child abuse', I must point out that the IMF, and the policies which it imposes on the Third World on behalf of rich capitalist countries, are responsible for mass child abuse. Malnutrition of children is still widespread, as poor countries sell crops which should be used for feeding their population, in order to meet debt repayments. Children still die from easily preventable diseases, as healthcare budgets are slashed as part of 'restructuring', and large pharmaceutical companies fix prices beyond the reach of millions of poverty stricken people (while making profits which would make the average Mafia drug cartel jealous :-P )

Then again, removing the boss of the IMF is not really the answer, either. The entire institution, along with other proxies for the international capitalist Establishment such as the WTO, should be shut down. And capitalism internationally must be overthrown, and replaced with a socialist system which is run for people not profit, need not greed.

On the one hand, we must not let the capitalist Establishment fool us into placing all the blame on corrupt Third World dictatorships. But on the other hand, we must at the same time support the workers in Third World countries who are fighting against their own corrupt regimes, while at the same time building a workers' fightback against the corrupt regime at home!

As Marx said: "Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains".

Friday 3 October 2008

Return of the living dead

It was bad enough Brown surviving past the recent Labour Party conference; despite the unease within Labour and calls for him to go, nobody in Labour has yer backed this up with any serious attempts to force a leadership contest. Yet to add insult to injury, his recent cabinet reshuffle - which would, at best, have been "watering the lightning tree" - he brought back the arch-Bliarite Peter Mandelson. What next, a return of Bliar himself?

Then again, the resurrection of Mandelson's rather chequered political career does seem eerily appropriate. With not only Brown and his Labour government, but even the capitalist system, seeming to be "dead men walking".

Meanwhile, the attempts to rescue capitalism itself - not only in the UK and Europe, but even in the US - appear on the surface to be a return to old-fashioned state investment in the economy. Yet this international rescue package is far from F-A-B for the workers; billions of pounds, which could have been spent on public services and welfare, have instead been spent on protecting the bankers, the capitalist Establishment and, above all, their beloved capitalist system. The nationalisation of Bradford and Bingley epitomises how nationalisation is often in the interests of the capitalist system - while the government has nationalised B&B's debts, the assets, including B&B branches, have been sold off to Santander (sounds like reverse-asset stripping to me!) So B&B workers' jobs are still at peril, the privateers continue to make profits while workers will end up paying for the crisis in the form of higher taxes and/or cuts in public services.

Small wonder, then, right-wingers like George W Bush have backed this international rescue (not so much Thunderbirds as Chunderbirds :-P ) of capitalism. As has the Tory leader, David Cameron.

Speaking of the Tories, after a brief period in which they sometimes seemed to be attacking Labour from the left (!?!), they seem to have resurrected their reactionary right-wing policies. Like being even tougher on benefit claimants than New Labour, and wanting to improve discipline in schools by encouraging people leaving the Army to re-train as teachers (I'm all for 'swords into ploughshares', but I don't think this idea is anything of the sort!) Meanwhile, I heard on the radio earlier today that there are renewed calls to bring back the cane in schools. Welcome to Abu Ghraib High ...

But what's really scary is the potential revival of a really grotesque corpse. As the Establishment parties lay the belt into immigrants it can only lead to more racism, while their attacks on incapacity benefit claimants have already been leading to an unwelcome rise in disability prejudice. Such prejudice is what feeds the Nazis, who - despite their ideas being utterly discredited in 1930s Germany - were never properly buried. The stinking corpse of Nazism has been stirring for some time, and must be stopped before it terrorises entire communities.

Yet there is also hope. Not so long ago, strikes, industrial action and trade union power were written off for dead. Yet there has been a revival of strikes over pay in recent years. And as the credit crunch bites harder, there is a good chance that workers' militancy will return to haunt the Establishment.

But it must not stop with strikes over pay. While encouraging industrial action in our own workplaces and supporting other workers who are on strike, we must generalise these strikes into a political movement which can take on not just individual employers, but also the capitalist system itself.

As Marx wrote in The Communist Manifesto: A spectre is haunting Europe. The Spectre of Communism.