Trade wars, protectionism...capitalism’s crisis is getting worse

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
August 13, 2018

Are we heading for another financial crisis in mid-August? At the end of last week, there was another tremor on the world’s stock markets caused by the worsening of Turkey’s economic situation. Its currency dropped almost 20% in one day.

This crisis stems from the clash between Trump and the Turkish president, Erdogan. With his typical brute force, Trump is using the means of pressure bestowed on him by US imperialism: he has doubled the customs duties on Turkish aluminum and steel. This has had a devastating effect on the Turkish currency.

Only a few days before, the sanctions that Trump decided to impose on Iran came into force causing a sharp drop in the value of the Iranian currency. There’s now bound to be a sharp rise in inflation, and the economic crisis, unemployment and the suffering of the population will get worse.

In both countries, protectionist measures and the economic embargo dramatically affect the population but their impact doesn’t stop there. Because of the crisis, US and European governments are waging an economic war whose consequences already have a high cost for their respective populations. And it will get higher. Increased custom duties won’t just cause price increases in Iran and Turkey but, worse still, they’re going to shrink the global market and aggravate the crisis.

This kind of situation is responsible for instability and regularly shakes the financial markets. Is this latest tremor just another one of many or is it the sign of a major stock market collapse? No one can say. Thanks to  capitalists, the world economy is now just a planet-wide casino in the hands of totally unpredictable speculators.

Capitalism is on its last legs, totally incapable of getting over the crisis. It creates monstrous inequalities. It blocks the development of entire regions and lays waste to others through wars that are fought in the interests of capitalists and the major powers. Entire populations can only survive by going into exile.

Workers here in France have seen their living conditions deteriorate. This is the result of attacks on employment, wages, welfare etc. led by the bosses and the governments that serve them, no matter which side they say they’re on. Millions of women and men are condemned to survive in a situation that is more and more precarious. Greater exploitation and the impoverishment of the working class allow a minority group, the big bourgeoisie, who own capital and the major conglomerates, to get increasingly rich. In one year, the fortune of the richest man in France, Bernard Arnault (head of luxury goods group LVMH) grew by 1,300 euros every two seconds. A lot of workers don’t make that much money in a month! The motto of this over-privileged minority is “Profits today and who cares about tomorrow”.

As long as the big capital owners control the economy, attacks on workers will continue. Bosses will do anything they can to increase the workload and reduce the workforce; any  government is only going to cater to the demands of capitalists and the power of money. Those who say that what happens to workers can get better under capitalism are spreading lies and perpetuating dangerous illusions.

How can workers in France and elsewhere defend their basic right to a job and one that pays a decent wage? How can they avoid what is currently happening to the Turkish working class who are being crushed by a crisis that keeps getting worse? They can only rely on their own collective and determined struggle. They must be ready to follow through and, if necessary, expropriate the ruling class to stop them from driving the whole of society to ruin.