Friday, 9 December 2011

Eurozone crisis capitalists know no way out

As the much hyped European union summit comes to a end this weekend and countries return home no nearer a solution for their crisis it is becoming increasingly clear if it isnt already that capitalism and its leaders know no way out of thei own crisis. The only thing they are all agreed on is that the working class of all nations must pay for the mistakes of greedy bankers and the super rich.
While the financial markets are increasingly expecting, at the very least, a restructuring of the eurozone, with one or more countries leaving, the major powers are striving to avoid the probably catastrophic effects of a eurozone collapse on the European and world economies.

This is why both the US vice-president and treasury secretary discussed with European leaders this week.

The markets, most recently in the shape of Standard and Poor's threat to downgrade all eurozone countries, are also exerting their pressure on governments to act. At bottom, all the solutions which are being proposed are based upon a concerted drive to cut living standards.

For now the 'weaker' countries are being targeted. In the last few days drastic new austerity budgets have been announced in Ireland and Italy.

In Ireland the latest €3.8 billion-cuts package is the fourth since 2008. But these are not simply measures to try to save the euro; they are part and parcel of the capitalists' drive to solve their crisis at the expense of the working class and many sections of the middle classes. This is why, outside the eurozone, British chancellor Osborne announced new cuts at the end of November.

Even presently 'prosperous' countries will be threatened, for example clouds are starting to develop over the Netherlands where household debt is equal to nearly 250% of total income; in Portugal the figure is 129%.

While France and Germany are effectively dictating to the other eurozone countries what steps should be taken, there is also a visible shift in European power occurring.

Reunited Germany is not just playing the leading economic role but increasingly dominating the EU politically. However Germany's demands for greater control over eurozone countries in return for continuing membership of the euro will create a backlash.

The plans for a 'fiscal union' will, if implemented, mean attempts by France and Germany to control national governments. Already in some countries like Greece and Ireland, opposition to austerity is being tinged with anti-German feelings.

But while German imperialism has benefited most from the EU and euro, this crisis's roots lie in the continuing world economic turmoil and the euro's Frankenstein character.

Naturally, the capitalists' attempts to solve the crisis in their own interests are meeting opposition; 30 November in Britain and 2 December in Belgium are the latest examples.But the labour movement has to link determined resistance to attacks with a vision of a better future.

This, however, cannot be achieved via the EU which is a mechanism for strengthening capitalism. A socialist alternative needs to be put forward, without this there is the danger that right-wing, populist nationalists will seek to take advantage of the crisis by blaming foreign 'enemies' and migrants.

It is high time for the trade unions and left parties in Europe to plan concerted action to rally opposition and go onto the offensive against capitalism.

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