Impending crisis, the broken rules of the system v the 90%

Here, Michael Roberts gives a good overview of the global picture regarding new levels of instability in the economic system. Instability is an intrinsic feature of the capitalists system we live in.

He starts as follows:

The US stock market turned volatile this week and has now erased all the gains made up to now in 2018 in just a week or so.  So much for Trump’s boast that things for rich investors have never been better.  The fall in the US market has been matched by similar drops in the European and Asian stock markets.  The all-world index has had its worst performance since the Euro debt crisis of 2012.

— Read on thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2018/10/25/correction/

What does it mean for Australia?

Australia is affected, and the impact will sharpen in the months ahead as the national election gets closer.

Living in denial is dangerous. Governing in denial is destructive. Campaigning in denial is not very smart.

That does not mean giving up. It does means re-thinking the campaigns we are active in and how we join in them, and bringing others with us. Many of our demands will be just as valid. We will have to be tougher and more united in defending and winning them.

Living … in brief

Among other things, profits and profitability will fall. There will be bankruptcies. If you are a small business employer that possibility is very sharp. If you are a worker with a job, the likelihood that you will lose it or be pressured to take a big cut in wages will escalate. If you are a worker without a job there will be downward pressure on your social welfare entitlements. Just surviving will be tougher and we will have to resist a louder call to blame it on refugees and migrant workers. It will infect our thinking and our social solidarity instincts or, it will make them stronger.

Governing … in brief

The LNP government is preparing to leave the next economic crisis to the market. Deciding to do that takes about 5 minutes and means the government is not in control.

In the meantime, they will seek to get re-elected on the basis of “their record”: current growth numbers, reduced unemployment, and very low strike figures.

Growth as GDP is barely adequate.

Unemployment has fallen. They say, for example Kelly O’Dwyer (the rather shrill and vacuous Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations), that unemployment is at 5%. She is using the volatile nominal figures not the more reliable “trend” figures that say it’s a bit higher. I haven’t seen an interview with her that deals with that.

She also does not talk about underemployment. That is now rising and more entrenched.

Campaigning … brief, but not so brief

On climate change …

Apart from the big and growing campaigns against the Adani mega coal mine there remains no coordinated national campaign. There is rich potential for this in the dozens of small initiatives and mini campaigns.

A thousand flowers blooming, each one in its own paddock, will not be good enough to win the battle to reverse climate change.

On workers rights and Changing the Rules …

The union movement’s campaign to “Change the Rules” (CtR) that seeks more power in the hands of workers to reverse inequality and poverty will be affected by instability and new crisis.

We must factor impending crisis into our strategy. Not to do so would be negligent.

Electoral intervention will not be enough.

This is true for those who want the campaign to be focussed almost entirely on getting a new Labor government. That is, an electoral strategy that focuses on the marginal seats that the Labor Party must win.

If the crisis hits not long after such a government, as it did in 2008-9, that new government – on historical form – will seek that we retreat from our most important demands. They will join with the employers, albeit with some reforms to make retreat “excusable”. Recent and longer history says that the dominant (these days) laborist tendency in our union movement will go along with that.

Compliant industrial strategy will not be enough

The CtR’s current industrial strategy is to comply with the rules (even though a percentage who attended last week’s rallies did not do that) and then whinge about them through social media and national union leader media appearances.

This is a dead end strategy because it leaves both union and non union workers fully exposed to the bankruptcies and wage cut demands that go with economic crisis.

The champions of the dead end approach are also champions of rules that restore arbitration powers to the Fair Work Commission and inspectorial and prosecuting powers to the Fair Work Ombudsman. They oppose a comprehensive “right to strike” that puts power into the hands of workers, union and non union alike.

A prospective new Labor government relies on the “dead end” champions as it prepares to win the election with the focus on the ALP National Conference in December.

A defiant strategy: electoral and industrial action before and after the national election

For those who want an strong, interventionist industrial strategy for CtR that interacts with the electoral strategy and also escalates the priority on the “right to strike”, the impending economic and climate crisis is also a big deal.

If we are “fair dinkum”, the need to change the rules by defying them – a big part of Australian history – will rise.

There is a serious option: a minimum wage increase

The National Minimum Wage Review starts soon. The Fair Work Commission will announce a timetable at any time in the next few weeks. The Review process will then start and traverse through to June 2019. This is the period leading up to and probably just after the national election.

In the next few weeks, the ACTU will prepare and present a proposal for a minimum pay increase by taking all minimum wages – the statutory and award based minimums closer to a “living wage”.

Lets start discussing that proposal now even, if necessary, before it is formalised.

Lets build an industrial campaign, reinforced by our efforts in the key electorates, that puts pressure on employer organisations, the government and the Commission to accept that proposal.

Otherwise they will dominate the public debate with the economic c risks logic of 0% increase.

All methods and tactics of campaigning can be harnessed into such a campaign.

It can be designed to appeal to all of those workers who are not in unions but who try to live on the minimum wage and those whose thieving employers pay below the minimum.

The 90% in charge

The modest efforts that the Rudd Labor government produced in 2008-9 to deal with the economic crash back then will be inadequate. They complied with the financial management rules of the day. But we know the rules of the finance system are stacked for the 1-10%, even more today. They must not be allowed to dominate “governing” as the crisis strikes and takes effect. Unless the 90 % take charge, the 90%, and the natural world we are dependent on, will suffer horrendously.

But we also have the rich working class potential to develop and win an alternative.

“The Greeks are NOT lazy.” Fighting Austerity for REAL is complex

THere is a lot more to fighting against Austerity than slogans, demands and even a humanistic programme for the people. This is one important lesson from SYRIZA’s negotiations with the representatives of European finance capital. In this case, it means complex negotiations. Solidarity with the Greek people and with SYRIZA must also include an unrelenting determination to fight the propaganda that financial capital and their aides in governments like that of Germany and France promote to justify austerity against the majority.
Michael Roberts’ – in this article – refutes the German promoted myth that the Greeks are lazy, and therefore deserve austerity. He povides basic information to back up these statements:
“Greeks work more hours in a year than any other country in Europe – and more than even the Americans or Brits! And surprisingly, it is the Germans who are the ‘laziest’, if measured by hours worked.” And …
“Although Greek economy-wide productivity started from a low base when the country joined the Eurozone in 1999, growth in labour productivity since then has been faster than the strong capitalist economies of Germany or France, up 25% compared to just 10% in Germany.”
… and a few other choice facts that make solidarity with the Greek people and SYRIZA essential. https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/troika-grexit-or-plan-b/

The ECB, QE and escaping stagnation (with an Australian perspective)

Who In Australia would trust the Abbott and Hockey (Liberal government) alliance with the Business Council of Australia to manage the economy in the next financial crisis?
Remember that when Rudd Labor came to office in 2007 it soon had to manage the impact on Australia of a global economic crisis, usually called the GFC. In a mild, Keynesian way they did a reasonable job.
Well, the Davos global ruling class gathering, frantically seaching for “inclusive capitalism”, and Mario Draghi are now talking and acting such that the handling of the 2007 crisis is now leading towards another global economic crisis, even before any real sign of recovery from the first one.
There is no chance that the Abbott government and the BCA will handle this “new” situation democratically, that is in the interests of the majority. Their current standards of competence suggest they wont even be able to handle it competently for their very own and precious 1%.
Well, that leaves the issue of the propect of a new Labor government, under its right wing led by Bill Shorten. What will they do? The next few months will tell us more.

SYRIZA’s Inspirational Practical Solidarity

This story in the Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/23/greece-solidarity-movement-cooperatives-syriza describes the community solidarity side of SYRIZA’s politics as it reaches the final days pof the elction campaign.
The story describes the re-definition of politics as an interdependence between macro economic reform – that is, real reform – and practical solidarity organising that challenges the dictates of charity as a solution to poverty.
Just one of several aspects of the story I liked is the explanation of how neoliberal capitalism shows no respect for individuals, especially the individuals who make up the majority. On the other hand, practical solidarity shows full commitment to each individual it touches and, encourages the fuller flowering of each individual’s personality and personal commitment to solidarity.
In Australia, the interactive political economy of the Abbott government and the Business Council of Australia, promotes individualism as self centredness and greed driven by the freedom to exploit the majority and the environment. In doing so, these social forces of the 1% constrict, deny and destroy the unique potentials of most people.

Global Union Federation calls for international union soidarity for SYRIZA and the Greek majority

“The Greek elections offer a potential breakthrough, but to carry out their program a government of the Left will need massive understanding and support abroad. Unions should be in the forefront of building that support.”(Excerpt from IUF statement.)

The IUF is maybe the first Global Union Federation (GUF) to both argue the case and call for international union solidarity for SYRIZA and its programme to challenge the horrendous austerity capitalism imposed on the majority of Greek citizens.

SYRIZA have not yet won the election, but they are expected to do so.

The IUF article explains the failed history of previous efforts to defeat externally imposed austerity in other European countries. SYRIZA is different and provides working people around the world as well as the Greek majority, with a real alternative foundation against austerity capitalism.

Of course, the global ruling class, will be planning how to bring SYRIZA down.

The Greek ruling class itself has the bloody hands of repression of the people in its own history to stop socialist and democratic momentums.

We are all in the Greek majority.

– See more at: http://portside.org/2015-01-14/breakthrough-greece-austerity-and-solidarity#sthash.TO9PuXky.dpuf