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Stop the neo-liberal crisis politics – dispossess the beneficiaries!

Stop the neo-liberal crisis politics – dispossess the beneficiaries!

We are experiencing the deepest crisis of capitalism since the great
depression of the 30s – and the European governments continue to pour oil
on the fires! From the very beginning, some governments have prevented a
solidarity-based solution to the crisis in Europe and are significantly
responsible for its exacerbation.

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This refers particularly to the German government, which, in August 2008, blocked a substantial economic stimulus
package for Europe. Hardly had the recession reached its lowest point in Germany in 2009, when the German government preached the necessity for
hard austerity policies. The “debt brake” was anchored in the
constitution: politics disempowered itself, shaped by neo-liberal
ideology. The austerity measures taken in various EU states affected above
all wage-earners, pensioners, the unemployed and the self-employed, while
the wealthy, the banks and the corporations were spared. In spring 2010
the German government blocked aid for Greece, causing a steep rise in the
yields of Greek government bonds and thus an increase in national debt and
making a solution of the crisis more difficult and expensive. The loan
agreements with Greece and other countries in crisis and their ridiculous
austerity demands only made the crisis worse. For example, the reduction
in the Greek minimum wage does not contribute to an increase in
“competitiveness”, as the country’s current account deficit is as much due
to the mercantilistic policies of the core eurozone countries, as to the
role of deregulated finance. Instead, the reduction of the minimum wage
has destroyed the internal market further. This example makes clear that
the current crisis politics redistributes wealth from wage-earners to
those who possess the capital, regardless of the macro-economic and
societal consequences. Greek salaries have already dropped by 20-30%,
hundreds of thousands of people are losing their jobs, over 10,000 schools
are closed, hospitals are running out of medication, children are
starving. Similar developments are also looming in Portugal and in other
European countries.

Neo-liberal politics, whose failure has become obvious in this crisis, is
being radicalised once more. The aim of the “fiscal pact”, for example,
which was agreed by the heads of state and heads of government of 24 EU
states on 2nd March 2012, is to make neo-liberal austerity policies
legally binding for all time. A “debt brake” in line with the German model
should be anchored across the whole of Europe. National budget deficits
should, in future, be capped at 0.5% of GDP. This plan overlooks the fact
that already in the 1990s the “Stability and Growth Pact” agreed by the
European Economic and Currency Union, which had allowed a budget deficit
of 3% of GDP, could not withstand the reality of a capitalist society
dogged by crises. The 3% deficit was frequently exceeded. The “Treaty on
Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary
Union”, as the Fiscal Pact is officially called, is more than the result
of unrealistic plotting by neo-liberal economists and politicians.
Further waves of privatisation, destruction of jobs, restriction of public
services, social degradation, and wage reduction, are pre-programmed
across the whole of Europe; and all to protect the profits of a small
group of rich capitalists. The destructive policies which have been pushed
ahead mainly by the German and French governments have been accepted and
put into practice by nearly all EU governments, because in every state
there is a dominant wealthy clique who profits from the increasing
pressure on the wage-earning population.

The European crisis policies lead to an increased undermining and
devaluing of democracy. Not least through international pressure were the
governments in Greece and Italy removed from office and replaced by a
government of “technocrats” in order to calm “the markets”. These
governments make far-reaching decisions without having the legitimacy of
being elected. A proposed referendum on the austerity measures in Greece
was quickly quashed after pressure from the ruling powers. Elections
become meaningless when the large parties represent more or less the same
policies, as recently in Portugal and Spain. Responsibilities are moved
from the national level to the EU-level without an adequate democratic
control of the activities of the EU institutions such as the European
Commissions, the European Central Bank, or the European Court of Justice.
We note with great concern the increased nationalist, racist and fascist
movements in various European countries.

And yet the prevailing policies are not without an alternative. A
significant alternative, however, is only possible when the roots of the
crisis are correctly identified. National debt crises form only one aspect
of the current European crisis, in which the tensions of European
integration (unequal development, common financial policies without common
policies on wages, taxation and industry) collide with a structural
over-accumulation of capital. There is too much capital, measured by the
possibilities which remain to exploit work and the environment.

An alternative strategy for attacking the crisis needs to include the
following elements:

– No ratification of the Fiscal Pact

The Fiscal Pact means further loss of democracy, commits nations to
neo-liberal policies, and increases the crisis.

– Cancellation of national debts

A public debt audit must clarify how the debts were incurred and who is in
possession of the government bonds. One person’s debts are another
person’s wealth. The savings and pension entitlements of the broad mass of
the population must be secured, while the interest and repayment
entitlements of the wealthy, the banks, the hedge funds and the
corporations must be cancelled.

– Nationalisation of the banks

Banks which have been saved by public funds must be nationalised. Banks
which are “too big to fail” must be divided up.

– Radical redistribution of income and wealth

We need a tax on financial transactions, an increase in taxation on
capital returns, a re-introduction of wealth tax and a much stronger
progression in income tax, in order to achieve a lasting financing of
state spending and increase in benefits, and to enable social and
environmentally necessary investments, as well as to combat world poverty.

– Overcoming of mass unemployment

Mass unemployment, low wages and wage reduction are important reasons for
decreasing wage rates and the creation of surplus capital which inflates
the financial sector. There must be an end to the manipulation of
unemployment statistics. Mass unemployment can only be overcome by a
radical reduction in working hours.

– Democratising democracy

Democracy must be strengthened at all levels, especially at the European
level, and must also include the economic sector. It cannot be possible
that democracy comes to a stop at the gates of the factories and the
banks, and that a small group has the means of production at its disposal,
when human survival depends on it.

The “Arab Spring”, the movement of the “indignant ones” in Spain, the
numerous strikes and demonstrations in Greece and the worldwide “Occupy”
movement which started in the USA, are all a source of encouragement. It
is high time to strengthen the protests and to take them to the place
where the European crisis policies are apparently decided. This is why we
are announcing the world-wide decentralised protest demonstrations on 12th
May as well as the European protest demonstrations which will take place
in Frankfurt am Main on 17th-19th May 2012.