Tag Archive: greece


EEKSavvas Michael-Matsas:

From the trial of the antifascists to a murder by the fascists

From UK Left Network, September 2013.
The trial of Savvas Michael-Matsas, General Secretary of the EEK (Workers Revolutionary Party of Greece), and of Konstantinos Moutzouris, former Rector of the National Technical University of Athens, took place on September 3-4, 2013, after a lawsuit deposed by the Nazi party “Golden Dawn” on May 8, 2009, and promoted in 2013 by the Greek “democratic” State and its judiciary arm, after the entry of the “Golden Dawn” in the Greek parliament in June 2012. The trial had enormous repercussions and produced a huge outrage internationally and nationally.

As many statements by many organizations noted, from well known as well as little known personalities from the cultural and political arena, including the mainstream international Press from all parts of the world: it was the first time after the end of the Second World War, and the defeat of Nazism, that two antifascists, including a Jewish communist intellectual and leader of a Trotskyist Party, in the case of Savvas Michael-Matsas, were brought to court by Nazis, with the complicity of the official State institutions in a member nation of the European Union.

It was this powerful tsunami of protests and solidarity that created a political dynamic permitting the victory of the “accused” in an initially very difficult trial. Parties of the Greek Left, many trade unions, anarcho-syndicalist and anarchist collectives, cultural associations, and dozens of artists and intellectuals issued public statements of solidarity or sent witnesses for the defense of Savvas Michael-Matsas. About a thousand people gathered in and around the court in the two day trial. The trial concluded with a unanimous ruling by the court of “not guilty” for both of the accused.

The three interconnected aims of this outrageous prosecution were, as Savvas Michael pointed out in his final “apology” to the court:
· To outlaw any antifascist discourse and action in conditions of social polarization and mass upheaval, in a country where the ruling class in a state of emergency uses the fascist gangs as an instrument to re-impose its control;

· To begin, starting from the Trotskyist party, the process of outlawing the entire Left and the dismantling of democratic popular rights in Greece ;

· Last but not least, to institutionalize the virulent anti-Semitism that accompanied from the start, the persecution of Savvas Michael-Matsas, an “instrument of the world Jewish conspiracy to impose a Judeo-Bolshevik regime in Greece in crisis”, according to the Nazi non-stop hate campaign.

The organizers of this witch hunt failed. For the first time, after its ascent, the Golden dawn lost a trial in Greek courts – a fact which says a lot about the current state of the judiciary in Greece. An important tactical victory was achieved, hailed by all throughout the workers movement (particularly in general assemblies where strike action in the public sector was decided) and among the popular masses identifying this battle with their own struggles against the escalating social disaster and barbaric repression by the bourgeois State forces and fascist paramilitary gangs.

But, as the EEK stressed in its first statement after the trial, a battle was won but the class war continues. What followed proves the truth of that statement: Within minutes after the trial concluded, many youth participating in it in solidarity with the accused were stopped and bullied by the special DELTA police forces, shouting to them “are you coming from the trial of the dirty Jew?” This is the same DELTA force, which had attacked the EEK in a peaceful demonstration in December 2009 nearly killing comrade Angeliki Koutsoumbou and seriously injuring dozens of comrades. A similar attitude was expressed by the police after the massive workers demonstration in Thessalonica on September 7, where 130 demonstrators were arrested, including many comrades of the EEK who were insulted by the police as “dogs of the dirty Jew Matsas”. The same insult was used the next day against another comrade arrested in an antifascist demonstration in Larissa. Even more sinister was the murderous attack, the day after the trial, on September 5, by a fascist gang in Pyrgos, Peloponnesus, against the 19 year old young son of a well known trade unionist cadre of the EEK, an attack that sent the young man to the hospital with serious injuries.

The fascist criminal activities escalated the last two weeks after the end of the trial: there was another murderous attack by dozens of Nazi storm troopers – a gang financed and supported by Greek ship-owners- in the Perama shipyards area against a group of members, trade unionists and supporters of the KKE (Communist Party of Greece) peacefully campaigning for the Festival of KNE (Communist Youth of Greece).

The climax of these activities was the murder, on September 18, of the 34 years old Pavlos Fyssas, a young left wing antifascist activist, musician and metal worker- a cold blood murder organized at the highest level by the Nazi Party and by its protectors in the bourgeois State, and executed by the “Golden Dawn” Nazi Mafia in the working class area of Nikaia, a historic stronghold of the communist movement. The murder produced huge popular uproar and anger, and sharpened the political crisis of the bourgeois regime and the Samaras government. Nevertheless, and despite the hypocritical crocodile tears of the government and the announcement of the “imposition of the rule of law”, the mass antifascist demonstrations that followed the murder were savagely repressed by the riot police, sending dozens to the hospital with serious injuries (one demonstrator lost his sight), and arresting hundreds of demonstrators.

This on-going confrontation is insolubly tied to the new phase of the class struggle, the eruption of a powerful strike movement of the workers in the entire public sector, in Education, in the Health services, the struggle in three major industries (including the LARKO factory, one of the biggest in the country and in Europe) facing closures under the diktat of the hated troika. The LARKO workers, who have been fiercely resisting the closure of their factory by blocking passage on the Athens-Thessalonica motor way, have been met with brutal attacks by the hordes of riot police sent by the government.

The murder of comrade Pavlos Fyssas, the fight with the murderous Nazi gangs, and their protectors, the repressive State apparatus, the sharpening struggle against the social devastation imposed by the troika of the EU/ECB/IMF and the Samaras government deepen the crisis of the regime, and reveal the bankruptcy of bourgeois parliamentary democracy.

The EEK fights throughout the country to bring together all these struggles into a General Political Strike – with no expiration date –
to bring down the government,
to kick out the imperialist troika,
to smash its catastrophic policies,
to build a United Front of the workers and popular organizations,
to organize Workers Self Defense groups and workers militias against the Nazis and State repression,
to open the road to workers power and a socialist way out of the crisis,
for a socialist Greece in a United Socialist States of Europe.
Savvas Michael, 9/24/2013The VOAG is watching - The VOAG is everywhere!!

Picket Of The Greek Embassy, Saturday 31 August:
Defend Savas Michael-Matsas; Defend Communities Against The Nazi Golden Dawn

The Socialist Fight has called a picket of the Greek Embassy for Saturday 31 August between 1 and 2 pm and propose to hand in the following letter. We are requesting that your organisation participate in the picket and endorse the letter as an organisation so you name can appear as supporters.

The Ambassadoraddress
 H.E. Mr. Anastase Scopelitis
Greek Embassy in London
1A Holland Park,
31 August 2013

 Dear Mr. Anastase Scopelitis,

 We, the undersigned, are protesting today against of trail of Savas Michael-Matsas a Greek Jewish Marxist intellectual and General Secretary of the Workers’ Revolutionary Party (EEK) of Greece and Constantino Moutzouris, the former rector of the University of Athens, on 3 September 2013.

 Savas Matsas is accused of “defamation” against the Greek openly Nazi party, the infamous “Golden Dawn”, for “instigation of violence and chaos” and “disruption of the civil peace” because, four years ago, in May 2009, the EEK has issued a leaflet calling for participation into an antifascist demonstration of protest against a murderous attack by the Nazis against the immigrant communities in Athens covered by the Greek police.

 In December 2008, an important youth revolt had shaken the entire country following the murder of a 15 years old youth, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, by two police guards. The revolt continued for nearly for two months, in what Dominique Strauss Kahn, head of the IMF at that time, had rightly described as “the first political explosion of the current world financial-economic crisis”.

 The police pogroms against the immigrants reached a climax in spring 2009, in Athens, in the neighbourhood of Aghios Panteleimonas, where Golden Dawn thugs terrorised the immigrants with the support of the local police. Left organizations had called for anti-fascist demonstrations. The EEK took part and issued a leaflet calling on the people to participate. The leaflet signed by the EEK as a political party was also published in the party newspaper NEA PROOPTIKI and presented in the party’s web site. This is the “crime” for which the General Secretary of the EEK is accused and put on trial.

 In May 2009, leading members of the Golden Dawn, including Ilias Panagiotaros, now a member of the Greek Parliament, and Themis Skordeli (a woman with dark connections with the underworld, was accused of the assassination of an Afghan immigrant but who never was been charged), posed a lawsuit against the entire spectrum of the Greek left, from the Communist Party of Greece(KKE) and SYRIZA to the extra-parliamentary left, ANTARSYA and EEK, all the immigrant associations, and independent personalities like the Dean of the National Technical University of Athens Constantinos Moutzouris (accused to allow the alternative web site Athens Indymedia to broadcast from the space in the campus).

 The lawsuit was not acted upon until late 2012, after the Greek elections of May and June 2012, when, the Golden Dawn was catapulted to Parliament from the margins of political life and the shadow of the State repressive apparatus. In November 2012, at the day celebrated nationally for decades now as the anniversary of the 1973 youth revolt in the Athens National Technical University(Polytechnic) against the military dictatorship of the colonels, the Greek Police, after receiving orders from the judiciary, started interrogations of all the accused in the Nazi lawsuit of 2009. In June 2013, from the dozens of the accused in the legal action of 2009, and interrogated in 2012, only Savas Michael(Sabetai) Matsas of the EEK was called to trial on September 3, 2013, together with the former Dean C. Moutzouris.

 Simultaneously with this preposterous “legal” action, the Nazis have intensified a non-stop, vicious anti-Semitic and anti-communist campaign against the Secretary of the EEK, accusing him of being “an instrument of the World Jewish Conspiracy to foment civil war among Greeks to impose a Judeo-Bolshevik regime in Greece”. Pictures of Savas Michael are presented combined with anti-Semitic insults and openly death threats: “Crush the Jewish vermin!”

 We wish to express our total opposition to the Greek state and government collaboration with the Nazi Golden Dawn in bringing these persecutions. We wish to express out outrage at the collaboration of the Greek state and government in failing to oppose and thereby collaborating with the vile anti-Semitic campaign against Savas Michael-Matsas and thereby against all Jews.

 We demand that the charges against Savas Michael-Matsas and Constantino Moutzouris be dropped immediately and that the Greek state and government protect the immigrant community against the fascist assaults of the Golden Dawn and cease prosecuting their defenders. Signed:

Steve Hedley, on behalf of the Rail and Maritime Union. Weyman Bennett, on behalf of Unite Against Fascism D.R. Rayner Lysaght, on behalf of Socialist Democracy (Ireland) David Yaffe, on behalf of the Revolutionary Communist Group Michael Holden, on behalf of the Irish Republican Prisoners  Support Group Michael Pröbsting on behalf of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) Alex Steiner on behalf of permanent-revolution.org Martin Ralph on behalf of the International Socialist League To add your organisation to the list email:  Socialist_Fight@yahoo.co.ukSocialist Fight

Savas Michael-Matsas

Savas Michael (66), a longtime Trotskyist and former Secretary of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), is facing serious charges after a complaint by the fascist party “Golden Dawn”. The slogan “smash fascism” is considered an incitement to violence against them. The VOAG re-publishes an interview with the Greek-Jewish Trotskyist and Workers Revolutionary Party (EEK) of Greece member.  Interviewer: Wladek Flakin of the Revolutionary Internationalist Organization (RIO).

Greek Trotskyist facing charges by Nazis

You must appear in court in Athens on September 3 together with the former rector of the National Technical University in Athens. You are facing charges of defamation and incitement to violence – after a complaint by the Nazi party “Chrysi Avgi” (“Golden Dawn”). How did these charges come about?

 In early 2009, after the revolt of the Greek youth in December 2008, the right-wing government – with the assistance of the Nazis of “Golden Dawn” – unleashed pogroms in neighborhoods with lots of immigrants. The Greek left organized a number of antifascist demonstrations in which our party also participated.

“Golden Dawn” made a legal complaint against all the parties of the left – including the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), the left alliance SYRIZA, the anticapitalist alliance ANTARSYA and also the EEK – as well as immigrant associations and independent activists. This complaint was resurrected by the right-wing Samaras government in 2012 and the police began interrogations of those named in the complaint. In June 2013, of the 80 people accused, two were selected: Konstantinos Moutzouris, the former rector of the National Technical University in Athens, and I.

What are you accused of?

I am accused on the basis of a leaflet produced by my party, for the antifascist demonstrations of May 2009. As general secretary of the EEK I am – according to the complaint – responsible for every text from the party, even if it doesn’t bear my signature.

The fact that I am a Jew makes my case worse. On the internet there are slogans like “kill the Jewish rat”, saying that I am an agent of a “World Jewish Conspiracy” to establish a “Judeo-Bolshevik regime” in Greece.

The charge of defamation refers to our condemnation of the fascist attacks against immigrants. The slogan “smash fascism” is considered an incitement to violence and the call for participation in a demonstration as “disturbing the civil peace”.Konstantinos Moutzouris is accused of allowing the independent news portal Indymedia to be run from the university campus.

Why did the fascists choose this legal attack?

Just like the Front National in France, the Greek fascists choose the legal path to provide a basis for state attacks against the left. But these “legal” means are always combined with illegal physical attacks against left-wing activists and immigrant communities as well as Jewish synagogues and cemeteries.

How could “Golden Dawn”, in the four years since the complaint was made, develop from a tiny splinter group to a party with 21 members of parliament?

Their rise is insolubly linked with the destruction of the living standards of the population. In the last three years of draconian austerity measures, imposed on Greece by the Troika made up of the EU, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, millions of people – especially from the middle class – have been thrown into unemployment and pauperisation. In the context of this social tragedy, the bourgeois political system which ruled the country for decades is totally discredited. A major part of the population voted for the left reformist party SYRIZA and made them the official opposition, while another part turned to the extreme right.

The Nazis have connections to the repressive state apparatus from the time of the Greek civil war in the 1940s and the dictatorship of 1967-74. But these connections have gotten stronger after the youth revolt of 2008. Due to the crisis, the fascists are getting help from the state: they are protected from criminal prosecution, while prosecutors raise charges against antifascists. It is no coincidence that half of the police voted for “Golden Dawn” in the last elections.

How can the fascist danger be confronted?

We urgently need a united front of all organizations of the working class, the immigrants and the left against the Nazis. The collapse of the welfare state has created a vacuum that the Nazis try to fill with offers “for Greeks only”. To resist this, social solidarity networks must be created, as well as workers’ self-defence groups against fascist attacks. 

But above all, we must fight for a socialist solution to the current crisis, with an emergency program of measures against the social catastrophe. We have to bring down the capitalist government of troika servants, cancel all debts to the international usurers of capital and end the measures of social cannibalism. We need a workers’ government, via an internationalist struggle, together with the workers of all Europe, against the imperialist EU, and for a United Socialist Europe. Original source of interview: Unknown. 2013
Voag-Logo-9

Storm The Banks

Three Short Essays On The Crises

The Voag was checking out the news today and came across these three articles, which we figured were worth reposting. 

These essays have been republished without permission. 

Bond Markets Have The United States In Their Sights

Gerry Gold, 20 April 2011
Assessing the significance of credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s historic decision to downgrade the debt outlook for the USA is complex. But significant it definitely is. S&P and Moody’s, which between them control 80% of the rating market, act as intelligence gatherers and forecasters on behalf of capitalist investors. They examine relevant aspects of an institutional issuer of debt – usually a corporate entity or a state body – and assess the risk to an investor of placing their money with that institution.

The higher the risk, the more the issuer of debt has to pay to the investor in interest or “yield”, and consequently, the more the corporation has to make from its operations, or in the case of a state, the more it has to extract from its citizens in taxes. So, you might say, the increasing burden being placed on the populations of effectively bankrupt countries like Ireland and Greece is largely on the say-so of these agencies.

Like all these agencies, S&P is a competitive, for-profit operation. In order to keep its customers paying their fees – and that is mostly the corporations whose performance is being assessed – it needs to show that it is getting its assessments right, more than it gets them wrong.

In the run-up to the 2007-8 global crash, S&P was itself mesmerised by the hysterical expansion of fantasy finance in which products derived from the issue of traditional forms of credit and debt based on real value multiplied the amount in circulation many times over. The big players issued monumental quantities of derivatives and they paid the ratings agencies huge fees to provide the market with favourable assessments. Money talks. So the agencies failed to provide any warning about the impossible state of Lehman Brothers which crashed out of existence in 2008.

Governments, on the other hand, don’t pay the agencies to assess the health of their economies, or to assess the risk that they might default on interest payments to the investors who lend them money through the bonds they purchase.

The rating agencies make their assessments as part of the fees paid by corporations who want to know whether the state’s debt is more or less risky. The big, or even only question at stake is: will the government act sufficiently strongly to provide the conditions for the corporations to intensify the extraction of profit from their population?

So when S&P decides to downgrade the outlook for US debt, it is taking into account many factors. These days the judgement is more political than it is economic. The on-going Punch & Judy style shadow-play between Obama and the Republicans over the $4-5 trillion programme of cuts to be visited upon the American people is one aspect of the analysis.

As one economist observed: “The key question is whether the gridlocked US political system can respond in time to avert a bond market revolt.” Some commentators say that S&P’s action is a warning to Obama from the world of finance. If they don’t crack down hard enough, investment money will go elsewhere and interest rates will rise. But they’ll also be assessing the likely contagion effect of the wildfire of revolt spreading outwards from Tahrir Square throughout the Middle East, North Africa and taking in Gabon in Central Africa.

They’ll be weighing up the likely outcome of the political struggle against the regimes that have ensured the supply of cheap oil to fuel growth over the last forty years. They’ll be closely examining the protest movement in Europe for signs that it is moving beyond resistance. And they’ll be studying developments like the People’s Assembly arising from the occupation of the State Capitol in Wisconsin. It’s no wonder S&P has downgraded the US government’s prospects for paying back its loans.
Gerry Gold, 20 April 2011

 

The S&P Debt Warning: Wall Street Extortionists Demand
Savage Cuts

WSWS, 20 April 2011
Five days after the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a voluminous report detailing the criminal activities of the banks and credit rating firms that precipitated the 2008 Wall Street crash and global recession, one of the named culprits, Standard & Poor’s Credit Ratings Services, issued an ultimatum to the White House and Congress demanding an agreement on savage austerity measures ahead of the 2012 elections.

In lowering its outlook from “stable” to “negative” on the top AAA rating for US Treasury bonds, S&P spoke Monday for the entire financial mafia that is headquartered on Wall Street. The ratings firm declared in a press release that failure to reach an agreement in the coming months to reduce the federal deficit by at least $4 trillion over the next decade “could lead us to lower the rating.”

This amounts to a threat to crash the US and global economy and undermine the status of the dollar as the world reserve currency. The move is part of an internationally orchestrated drive by the major banks and speculators to push through devastating attacks on the living standards of the American working class.

They are applying to the United States the extortionate methods used previously to stoke up speculative attacks on the sovereign debt of a number of European countries, including Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. S&P and its major ratings rivals Moody’s and Fitch have issued strategically timed credit warnings and downgrades to create a crisis atmosphere, which governments have then utilized to override popular opposition and impose mass layoffs and wage cuts and shred social programs.

John Chambers, chairman of the sovereign ratings committee at S&P, virtually admitted as much, according to a report in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal. The Journal wrote: “If the US reaches a British-style resolution, S&P will restore the US outlook to stable, Mr. Chambers said.”

In May of 2009, S&P lowered Britain’s credit outlook. It reversed the action 17 months later after the newly elected Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government announced a program of draconian cuts that will shatter the country’s social safety net.

Readers can make their own judgment as to S&P’s standing to be issuing such ultimatums. The Senate report on the Wall Street crash describes the corrupt process by which S&P routinely slapped AAA ratings on worthless securities marketed by the banks as follows: “Credit rating agencies were paid by Wall Street firms that sought their ratings and profited from the financial products being rated… The ratings agencies weakened their standards as each competed to provide the most favorable rating to win business and greater market share. The result was a race to the bottom.” Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the subcommittee, described what the investigation uncovered as “a financial snake pit rife with greed, conflicts of interest and wrongdoing.”

By rights, the top S&P executives who presided over this fraud and pocketed multi-million-dollar salaries in the process should be sitting in prison. Instead, still at their posts and having suffered no consequences, they are using the disaster of their own making to gut bedrock social programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security upon which tens of millions of people depend.

The statement issued by S&P on Monday described both the Republican fiscal year 2012 budget plan and that outlined by President Obama last week as a basis for cutting the federal deficit by $4 trillion. However, the two sides had to come to an agreement before the national election in 2012, the company insisted.

This demand underscores the anti-democratic character of the so-called budget debate. It is an elaborate charade, behind which stands the dictatorship of the banks. The deal to eviscerate what is left of the social reforms of the 20th century has to be sealed before the elections to make sure that the vote in no way becomes a referendum on austerity and the electorate has absolutely no say in the matter.

The mass opposition to the measures being proposed by both parties is well known to Wall Street and its political servants in Washington. On Monday, the same day as the S&P announcement, McClatchy Newspapers published the results of a McClatchy-Marist poll showing that voters by a margin of 2-to-1 support raising taxes on incomes above $250,000, with 64 percent in favor and 33 percent opposed. They oppose cutting Medicare and Medicaid by 80-18 percent.

S&P intervened at the behest of the banks to shift the phony budget debate even further to the right and create the conditions for even deeper cuts than those being currently proposed. Interviewed Monday on Bloomberg Television, David Beers, S&P’s global head of sovereign finance ratings, said the $4 trillion deficit-cutting target was “not enough to ultimately halt the rising trajectory of US debt.” It was, he said, merely “a useful starting point.”

The establishment media immediately signaled that it had gotten the message. The Los Angeles Times editorialized that “Congress and the White House can’t afford to ignore this warning shot.” The Financial Times of London published an editorial that declared, “S&P’s warning shot should galvanise America’s leaders.”

Democratic leaders rushed to reassure Wall Street that they were on board. Speaking at a community college in Virginia Tuesday, Obama said, “I believe that Democrats and Republicans can come together to get this done.”
Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House of Representative, said Monday, “Today’s revised outlook shows the urgent, bipartisan action needed to put our nation on a serious path to reduce deficits.”

Erskine Bowles, a former White House chief of staff for Bill Clinton and co-chair of last year’s bipartisan fiscal commission, was even more emphatic. Speaking to the Financial Times, he said S&P had been “absolutely right” in lowering it outlook on US debt. “If anything, they understate the extent of the problem,” he said.

Only a mass, independent movement of implacable opposition by the working class can defeat this criminal conspiracy. The World Socialist Web Site and the Socialist Equality Party urge workers and young people to reject the entire framework of the so-called budget debate. There must be uncompromising opposition to any cuts in jobs, wages or social programs and services. The working class bears no responsibility for the crisis of the capitalist system.

We propose an alternate policy. As a down payment, to begin to recoup the wealth plundered by the financial elite, we propose a 50 percent tax surcharge on all household wealth over $5 million. This should be supplemented by raising the income tax on households taking in more than $500,000 a year to 90 percent. These measures will not only generate hundreds of billions of dollars for jobs, schools, health care, housing and pensions, they will attack the profligate squandering of resources and contribute mightily to the moral as well as the economic health of society.

These initial steps lead inexorably to the nationalization of the banks and major corporations and their transformation into public utilities under the democratic control of the working population. This is a socialist program. It requires that the working class break politically from the two parties of big business and build a mass movement to fight for a workers’ government.
Barry Grey, 20 April 2011


Portugal: Another Triumph For The Bond Dealers

Paul Feldman, 8 April 2011
As Portugal declares state bankruptcy, after its Socialist Party government failed to get an austerity package through parliament, it’s another triumph for the dictatorship of the money markets and bond dealers. Now, even though Portugal is without a government, the price demanded by Germany and the richer EU countries for an €80 billion bail-out is even deeper cuts in public spending than were first proposed. The upcoming general election is definitely one to lose.

Portugal’s finances collapsed because its budget deficit grew rapidly following the onset of the global recession. But the money markets drove up interest rates until Portugal was borrowing at over 8.5%, adding to the total deficit at a rate which made it impossible to repay.

In the last year, Greece – which still has a ‘socialist’ government and Ireland, which saw the ruling party wiped out at the recent general election, have suffered the same fate. Does the ‘contagion’ stop at Lisbon, or is Madrid next?

Spain’s government – yet another one that claims the rubric ‘socialist’ – is confident it can avoid Portugal’s fate – because it says it’s already making deep cuts in public spending! Youth unemployment is running at over 40% as a consequence. Meanwhile, Spanish bank assets are worth far less than before because of the collapse in property values and refinancing is increasingly expensive and hard to come by.

You can cut – as the Coalition is doing in Britain – to avoid higher borrowing rates but that only deepens the recession. Spending more would leader to higher borrowing rates, which the banks won’t like. Why? Because in the perverse world of capitalist finance, the value of the government bonds, which they hold as assets, depreciates as rates rise.

At the same time, British banks are steadfastly refusing to resume rates of lending last seen before the credit crunch of 2007. That’s because their balance sheets remain toxic and full of bad debt. Even the right-wing press is fed up with the banks.

On Monday, the Independent Commission on Banking set up by the government reports, and no one expects it to suggest any fundamental changes. The Daily Telegraph’s Jeff Randall reported: “The banks have captured our money twice over: as cash in their vaults and investments in their shares. We own all of Northern Rock, most of Royal Bank of Scotland and nearly half of Lloyds Banking Group. We rescued them – and in so doing became their prisoners.

But this is not a new problem. By the outbreak of World War One, the banks and the monopolies had formed an unholy alliance against ordinary working people and elected governments alike. After creating the Federal Reserve – America’s central bank – President Woodrow Wilson declared:

“I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilised world. No longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men”.

In the recent period of corporate-driven globalisation, the tensions and contradictions between the capitalist state and capitalist finance have deepened to the point where governments tread warily. The only way to sort that out is to put an end to the power of the bond dealers, banks and money markets and create a new, socially-driven financial system. It doesn’t need me to tell you that bourgeois governments are not capable of such a revolutionary change.
Paul Feldman, 8 April 2011Voag-Logo-9