The bronze bull that stands in Bowling Green poised to charge up Broadway, first appeared in front of the New York Stock Exchange December 15, 1989. It is symbol of "strength, power and hope of the American people”. Now a day, the bull in posters & flyers has a lady dancer who postures serenely on its back. Yes this is the corporate branding by a group called the Adbusters, for the anti-corporate OCCUPY WALL STREET movement.
The US economy at the time of Cold war stimulated rapid growth but was also the source of instability. Industrial productivity grown rapidly during the sixties. Work and Capital were stable; salaries were increasing as fast as productivity. The distribution of National income remained stable, but those did not take place smoothly. Since then, globalization has indeed gone hand in hand with financialization. In the course of this double transformation, the greater independence of economic activities and economic policies across borders has been matched up by a growth in the coordination and management, both public and private, of that interdependence. The actual effectiveness of that interdependence itself depends, however, on how the interests and capabilities are shaped by the uneven and contradictory path of crisis and the path led to the occupiers to Wall Street today. If we are to arrive at a realistic assessment of that path, we must place the arguments on financialization and globalisation within the framework of a deeper account of the unfolding of NEOLIBERALISM since the 1970s.
The Reason that made people Occupy Wall Street
What is most important in this transformation is not so much the changing strategy of the great powers (i.e. the US), but the emergence of De-Nationalized bourgeoisies throughout the less developed world which enthusiastically adopted the new strategy as junior partners (i.e. India). The key response to this fiscal crisis was not cuts in public spending or even privatization, but the De-Politicization of economic policy, e.g. Through central bank Independence, fiscal rules & devolution to executive agencies.
For thirty years the US revived financial markets all over the world. It used a three-way mechanism as a lever: Dollar, Credit & Speculation, which led to a huge increase in the size of financial markets. Share returns had become the ultimate criteria; a company's stock valuation became the only way to measure its worth. This is how the third element came to play. Financial deregulation and unbridled proliferation hasten today's financial collapse. The US still holds the world's strongest economy but its current account is showing an extremely high deficit, which is mainly attributable to the imbalance in the interdependence within the framework of Neoliberalism. As a result, dollars are being scattered all over the world and return to US as investments or capital. The consequences quickly caught up. The crisis worsened and reached a peak. The biggest victims were those heavily in debt who could do nothing but stay numb watching interest rates rose sharply. Consequences were even more devastating for financed house owners. Over two million of them lost the house they have bought and were left out on the streets. Due to the overproduction crisis and financial collapse US consumption has sharply down-fallen and many investors have lost large amount of money on the Wall Street. The crisis promises to be long and deep. Financial instruments and real estate have lost a lot of value and cannot not be used to hedge new credit. The kind of credit that, for understandable reasons, cutting interest rates to boost the economy is not an option either because at 3%, they are already at the lowest. It is clear that the only way out of this is consistently delayed overproduction crisis is by annihilating production capacity. Hence, inevitable breeding of Unemployment.
How the US Empire will react this time? By increasing even more its expenses on war and by pursuing its military adventurism? At this time it remains an open question, but historical fact that only the massive destruction of production capacity through war was able to find a way out of the last significant system crisis, that of the 1930s. This time they have to come up with a unique solution. Because Neoliberalism is a project of class hegemony, the current economic and financial crisis is only a crisis of neoliberalism if there is a working-class challenge to that hegemony. As in place of class, the neoliberals have successfully promoted the idea of social inclusion or exclusion. So the general consensus is NO to further pursuing 'value for money' through spending cuts not tax rise, deeper privatization and accelerating the outsourcing of public provision. The people must escape from this trap. Building a broad alliance around resisting the cuts by demanding economic democracy and justice may provide a basis for challenging this, laying the ground for the rebuilding of the missing socialist dimension to solve this crisis.
After the Second World War it was the Bretton Woods agreement (1944) that established the regulation that, only dollars could be exchanged for gold and other currencies had a fixed exchange rate with dollar. It was the acclamation that they were the uncontested superpower. Actually the US used its upper hand to counter communism. In Western Europe, the aim of the expensive Marshall Plan was to build a solid imperialist dam against the Soviet Union and muzzle local resistance. The US launched similar socio-economic installation plan in South-East Asia too. These tie-ups were designed to outbreak social chaos what they actually did, that was to make room for the law of maximum profit rule. Production was in no way organised to satisfy the needs of society at large. Next were the Neoliberal reformation of the US and the fall of the Soviet Union. Things sped up in 1991 with the Maastricht Treaty, which established a single European currency and a common European foreign policy. The European Union had to restructure their economy; hence they set the goal of catching up with the US economy by 2010 in the Lisbon Strategy (2000). Thus under conditions of expanded capitalist reproduction the tendency for the workers' income to fall prevailed, in parallel with an increase in the rate of exploitation and the goal of unified strategic choices promoted the restriction of the working class and pensioners in order to crumb labour cost to the most and to pose the idea of 'Profit Prior to the People' prevail. From the early 90s, the EU led the liberalisation of telecommunications, railway and postal services. Important public services transferred to private capital. The Bologna reform in European education was aimed to generate revenue for the industry, inspired by the US. Capitalism triumphed in EU. The current economic crisis started in the US, grown deeply within the Euro zone and now it envelopes Great Britain, Japan, Turkey, few countries of Latin America and even impacts India via reduction of Global Growth rates and international treaties.
The `Occupy Wall Street' movement in the United States and the various protest actions in Europe and other parts of the world are a manifestation of the growing anger of the people at the predatory role of big banks and finance capital. The people have seen how the corporates and banks have been bailed out while the ordinary people are made to bear the burdens of the crisis. We must not register it as an Anti-Corporate Movement only. We have to consider the larger spectrum. The fight is against Neoliberalism in USA, in UK and everywhere, that is what it should be in India too. The people must ask the Government about the Right to Education Act, the Government must extend Food Security to its entire citizen. The state has to ensure social security to every Indian. The neoliberal policies of the Government will lead us to no other way than the US or EU's financial crisis. If we are to strengthen the hands of Occupiers of this time, we must show them not only solidarity but organise a nationwide protest actions against the rapacious exploitation by big capital and finance. It is necessary to step up and broaden the struggles against the neo-liberal policies in India.
The scopes of an Indian alternative
The source of the crisis can be dried up only with the abolition of capitalist ownership & universal commoditisation, with the extinction of the anarchy of the capitalist production, with the central planning of a proportional expanded reproduction, having as its goal the production of use values for the ever-increasing satisfaction of social needs.
Now alternative for the Occupiers is to push the cost of the crisis on to the capitalists through a campaign for the takeover of the financial system and the democratization of finance, which would contribute to the destabilisation of neoliberalism. Large-scale mobilizations depend on the left's ability to imagine an alternative future including the values of democracy, solidarity, satisfaction of basic needs and environmental sustainability. They can draw inspirations from the history of struggle in which the tireless work of millions of left activists has been essential to bring significant gains to the majority.
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