Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Spanish Revolution

Marx - saw it coming and got the teeshirt!

The last twenty four hours have seen a wave of anti-austerity protest in Madrid. Galvanised by social media, the Indignants have marched on Congress in their tens of thousands to demand an end to the harsh austerity measures of the conservative government which, deferring to the European Central Bank's "tight money" regime, have slashed public services and catapulted one in four Spaniards onto the dole.

They have faced rounds of rubber bullets from the police, but they remain in place even now; follow them here.

The Spanish Government's fiscal policy is the same that is being applied across Europe for the sake of saving the beleaguered Euro - while in Britain, which is not part of the Eurozone, the Con Dem Government pursues deficit reduction as its first and, many would argue, sole monetary policy objective. All this in spite of the fact that cutbacks depress economic activity and cause the whole economy to spiral down in an ever-decreasing circle - and with less tax generated and more unemployed people needing state assistance, the deficits continue to grow.
Madrid on Tuesday evening
There are alternatives - Keynes and Roosevelt demonstrated that borrowing to invest in employment pays dividends many times over - a tack echoed in the current round of Green New Deals proposed by Green Parties (including US Presidential candidate Jill Stein). And in the case of sovereign currency states like the UK, expanding the monetary supply by "quantitative easing" (printing money) can kick-start a stagnant economy (and as a nation that can print its own money, the UK can never go bankrupt contrary to Tory and Lib Dem claims of pending insolvency).

But on another analysis, this round of austerity, just like the previous period of expansion, is just part of the never-ending capitalist not-so-merry-go-round; a cycle of boom and bust followed by more boom and bust. It will never end, never be resolved, especially in a world where many resources are fast becoming expensively scarce. On this analysis, the only real answer is to change the economic and social systems completely - to a more planned economy, with resources used to the benefit of all and strict limits placed on what private individuals and companies can take from the common wealth. 

Otherwise, we are condemned to Austerity Groundhog Day:

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, "The Communist Manifesto" (1848)

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