Commentary on Political Economy

Saturday 10 December 2011

Europe! Europe!

It may be an appropriate time to write a brief comment on the scandalous goings-on in Europe. As many know, the view is spreading that the current crisis may ultimately be resolved if the ECB is ready to intervene in capital markets to protect both eurozone banks and sovereign bonds issues as well. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, the German Regierung will probably not be so foolish as to let the eurozone collapse and throw the German economy into a recession too deep for the political repercussions to be gauged with any degree of political confidence. But the more relevant and irremovable obstacle is the fact that the European bourgeoisies will have to divide up the amount of politico-economic pain that will have to be endured to redistribute "the burden of economic adjustment" that the "fictitious value" created during the Great Moderation (1980 to 2007) had hidden from view so effectively!

And this is the real obstacle beyond which it is very hard to see - because it is almost impossible to believe at the moment that the European bourgeoisies of Germany and France, and then Italy, Spain and Greece will be able to agree on how to cary out this adjustment in a way that does not precipitate far greater political cataclysms. So far, it has proved relatively simple to remove incumbent governments and replace them with "technocratic fixes". But you take no prizes for guessing that this is only the lull before the storm - and a big storm is surely brewing, from Moscow to Lisbon.

Evidently, just like the Versailles Treaty of 1919 and the return to the Gold Standard in the 1920s after the Great War, European elites have reckoned without the working class - a "class" that certainly at the moment does not have a solid political organisation or a voice, but one that exists and that is "felt" in the recurring "crises of capitalism". What produces these crises is the intransigence, the irrepressible "needs" of all of us who have to work and for whom the present system represents an intolerable barrier and obstacle to the liberation of our productive powers and the fulfilment of our needs. This is the moment of "crisis". This is the time to organise and shake this system to its foundations. 

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