From Wall Street to Downing Street, the threat of a system gone mad

7 February 2018

Over the 3 days ending last Monday, stock markets all over the world went through one of their most tumultuous falls in a decade.  Starting in New York on Friday, the sudden wave of share-selling spread to Australia and Asia, and then to Europe.  Overall, the value of company shares was cut by almost three trillion pounds - the equivalent of more than 3 years' worth of Britain's public expenditure!
    Should it matter to us? After all, aren't shares just scraps of useless paper?  Why should the crazy ups and downs of their prices be allowed to affect the world of real wealth production?
    In fact, the stock market is the barometer of the profits made by the tiny capitalist minority out of our labour.  And because this insane system is profit-driven, it is the Monopoly game they play with their shares, which shapes the lives of the billions of us who produce all the wealth!

The boomerang of the crisis

Predictably, the capitalists' politicians and experts have been falling over themselves to try to explain away their bingo machine’s latest convulsion.
    And ironically, they all claim that this financial somersault is, somehow, a good thing!  They boast about the "healthy fundamentals", rising wages and the high employment level of the US economy.
    As if we didn't know what this really means.  Aren't we hearing exactly the same nonsense from May about the British economy?  Doesn't she boast about record employment - but not about the record number of non-jobs!  Aren't we told that wages are rising, when, in fact, they still lag well behind today's rising Brexit inflation?
    But if, during these 3 days of crazy selling, speculators have been offloading an all-time record number of shares - over 3 billion of them! - isn't it precisely because they, themselves, do not believe in all this nonsense about "healthy fundamentals"?  As if they didn't know that, since the beginning of the financial crisis, they've owed a huge part of their rich pickings to the largesse of their states.
    For the past decade, in Britain just as in every other industrialised country, social expenditure has been slashed in order to line the capitalists' pockets - whether by means of tax cuts, direct subsidies or the printing of new money which went directly to feed the banks' financial speculation.
    But the profit sharks know that their good times can't last forever.  By now, central banks are de facto broke and money printing is no longer an option.  Nor can social expenditure be squeezed much further without causing a political backlash - as shown today by the housing crisis and virtual collapse of the NHS.
    So, now the boomerang of the crisis is coming back to hit us, with the capitalists getting rid of their potential loss-making assets, be it shares or government bonds.  Whether this causes shockwaves in the real economy - and it inevitably will - is not their problem.  But it is ours!
We are warned and we will have to act!

Contrary to the delusions of the Wesminster Brexit bigots, the British economy cannot sustain itself in splendid isolation.  It will be - and is already - affected by this on-going worldwide chaos.
    In fact, there is a direct link between this chaos and the meltdown which is threatening the outsourcing industry.  Carillion's collapse, Capita's and Interserve's profit warnings, the bail-out of Virgin-Stagecoach - these are all reflections of the parasitism of a capitalist class which has got used to making fat profits on state “welfare”.
    In all these cases, the two main factors in the meltdown have been: the awarding of massive dividends to shareholders and huge bonuses and salaries to directors, when the companies couldn't actually afford them; and the huge loans they took out in order to fund these awards, while their workers' pension funds were left to dry up.
    However, these companies are not a special kind of capitalist "bad apple".  They've been acting just like every other capitalist outfit, since governments have put them on the drip-feed of public funds. Likewise, the incompetence, arrogance and greed displayed by Carillion's officials in front of two Commons' committees this week, are just typical of the capitalists' way of parasitising the state.
    The odds are, that the combination of the crisis and the capitalists' parasitism, will produce many more Carillion-like bankruptcies in the coming months - and many more workers will be told that they have to foot the bill.  The odds are, as well, that against the backdrop of this rampant world crisis, Brexit will cause even more chaos and that we, workers, will be told to pay for that too.
    But why should we pay for the greed of the profiteers, or for the irresponsibility of their politicians?  Private profiteering is a plague that society cannot afford.  We, the working class, will have to bring it to an end.  This is what we need to prepare ourselves for!