Alan Morrison on
the global financial crisis, the Morning Star's stance, and the last days of Thatcherism
Wall Street Tumbling Down!
I feel it is more than appropriate to make a brief comment on the current global financial crisis in a form which represents the general view of the Recusant.
Firstly, not wanting to say 'we told you so', but the Recusant is hardly surprised at the inevitable crash that has recently happened after nearly thirty years of unadulerated and unregulated free market capitalism; and, latterly, in its more virulent international mutation under the supervision of our then Chancellor and current Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and, of course, George 'Dubyer' Bush Jr. Our lack of surprise - mingled albeit with the universal sense of disorientation at its suddenness - is in part rooted in a leftist view of economics: for some of us, based in Marxist dialectical materialism, but for my own part, more so in Hegelian idealism - and also the notion, now starting to show itself manifestly in certain areas, of the labour theory of value, that places emphasis on the intrinsic value of a commodity, object or tool according to the effort of labour going into making it, while equally emphasizing, in same terms, the intrinsic valuelessness of money. You could argue that now we are beginning to see this after the Wall Street and City speculators have successfully managed to devalue their own gambling chips by irresponsible bets; not to mention in the sudden mass shift of global money-hoarders to lumps of gold (a tangible mineral of intrinsic value based in its natural properties of durability and beauty). So the farce of capitalism plays itself out into new extremes that would be laughable if their effects weren't to inevitably crunch down on the ordinary global citizen, many of whom still work their socks off in the growingly fallacious notion that somehow hard honest work leads eventually to well-earned comforts. Not so in the deregulated world of casino capitalism. We do the work, then the City stockbrokers and speculators gamble it away, and the banks and councils try to make profits on our savings and tax revenues ultimately at the expense of our own interests, and without our permission (to which please do read the new polemical poem 'Bankers' by Nicky Jones on this site).
Of course, those of us who experienced first hand the darker side of Thatcherism during the Eighties and, in its mutated form, through to the Nineties and under new Labour, none of this is really much of a surprise or revelation, only slightly breathtaking in its suddenness and far-reaching severity. And to many on the Left, it comes with mixed blessings: both a sense of the proverbial fear as to how the ordinary person will be immediately affected by the fall out from this crunch, and, on the other hand, a tingling glimmer of hope that perhaps finally unregulated global capitalism will crumble. Already it seems that the United States' economic hold on much of the world may now - with or without the bail out - stumble and decline. This can only be a good thing in terms of their audacious self-appointment as the Global Police, which has resulted in as many crimes - illegal invasions, Gunatanamo Bays etc. - as those targeted by them for reprisal. And now, almost unbelievably, the US, and now the UK, are feeling compelled to nationalise many of their banks, such is the extremity of the global crisis, that even an ethically constipated right-wing reactionary as Bush has put wheels in motion that one Republican senator warned was 'on the slippery road to socialism'. This measure, indeed, is the only real revelation, to the point of view of the Left, as yet. And even though we know these nationalisations of banks are not in any way socialistically motivated, we can both cheer and balk in unison at the ultimate irony that the only way to rescue a failing capitalism is by instigating what are, in themselves (irrespective of motives), socialist methods. Marx must be somersaulting in his grave at this irony!
Nevertheless, to those on the Left, even the mere appearance of the term Nationalisation on the front of establishment broadsheets sends a shiver of optimism up our spines. But, as today's Morning Star warns in its column 'Worship a false god', 'The international crisis, with its specific features in Britain, does not equate to a collapse of its capitalism'. Shit. Oh well. 'Nor is the working class or any of its myriad punative political representatives in a position to pose revolutionary change'. Well, that's as maybe, but as the Morning Star goes on to point out: 'But that does not mean that the labour movement can give no meaningful response to the current crisis. It is clear that, despite the vanities of the past two decades, the free-market model is incapable of avoiding the periodic crises that are its hallmark'. And that, palpably, cannot be denied. In short, unregulated free market capitalism is unstable and a new form of weightily regulated global economics needs to be created. In the words of same columnist: 'Nationalisation of the banks must be accompanied by financial policy being returned to democratic accountability.... the obsession of transnational corporations to profiteer must be countered by price caps on gas, electricity and essential foods'. Hear, hear. And: 'There must be an expansion of the public sector, especially in transport, water and energy utilities and council housing, together with a housing insulation programme... Ending worship of the false god of the markets must be accompanied by taking on a new left-wing economic and political agenda'. Or, to put it more glibly in the words of Red Ken: 'Take the banks from the greedy fat cats'. Absolutely. the Recusant fully supports the Morning Star in these sentiments, as it does the current related lobbying by the Labour Representation Committee.
We only hope that in turn this government will come to its senses finally and re-nationalise the railways and public transport, and the utilities, for all of our common good. Whatever happens from this point on, whatever changes - whether intentionally or unavoidably - or trickles down into other areas of society through the Wall Street fall out, we can at least start to almost believe that at last the palsied claw of Thatcherite economics on the Western World is finally losing its draconian grip. Who knows, maybe at Thatcher's future state funeral, we will burying not only Thatcherism's namsake, but also the last toxic vestiges of Thatcherism itself.
Alan Morrison © 13/10/08