Socialists on the financial crisis

This is a link to a challenging socialist analysis of the current world capitalist financial crisis
by Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin

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‘They say they won’t intervene. But they will.’ This is how Robert Rubin, Bill Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, responded to Paul O’Neill, the first Treasury Secretary under George W. Bush, who openly criticized his predecessor’s interventions in the face of what Rubin called ‘the messy reality of global financial crises.'[1] The current dramatic conjuncture of financial crisis and state intervention has proven Rubin more correct than he could have imagined. But it also demonstrates why those, whether from the right or the left, who have only understood the era of neoliberalism ideologically – i.e. in terms of a hegemonic ideological determination to free markets from states – have had such a weak handle on discerning what really has been going on over the past quarter century. Clinging to this type of understanding will also get in the way of the thinking necessary to advance a socialist strategy in the wake of this crisis.[2]

Markets, States and American Empire

The fundamental relationship between capitalist states and financial markets cannot be understood in terms of how much or little regulation the former puts upon the latter. It needs to be understood in terms of the guarantee the state provides to property, above all in the form of the promise not to default on its bonds – which are themselves the foundation of financial markets’ role in capital accumulation.

The scale of the crisis and the popular outrage today provide a historic opening for the renewal of the kind of radical politics that advances a systemic alternative to capitalism. It would be a tragedy if a far more ambitious goal than making financial capital more prudent did not now come back on the agenda. In terms of immediate reforms and the mobilizations needed to win them – and given that we are in a situation when public debt is the only safe debt – this should start with demands for vast programs to provide for collective services and infrastructures that not only compensate for those that have atrophied but meet new definitions of basic human needs and come to terms with today’s ecological challenges.

Such reforms would soon come up against the limits posed by the reproduction of capitalism. This is why it is so important to raise not merely the regulation of finance but the transformation and democratization of the whole financial system. This would have to involve not only capital controls in relation to international finance but also controls over domestic investment, since the point of taking control over finance is to transform the uses to which it is now put. And it would also require much more than this in terms of the democratization of both the broader economy and the state.

This is worth printing and studying.

http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/bullet142.html

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