Monday, May 28, 2012

800. A Word With the Reader: For a United Ecological Socialist Europe

Assistant Editor, Ernie, after a fist fight with a neighbor's cat.
By Kaman Nayeri, May 28, 2012

Let me put forward the following propositions for your consideration.
1.              The crisis in Europe, especially in its southern flank: Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy, offers an unmatched opportunity in four decades to educate, agitate and organize for a course towards a new and better society, an ecological socialist society.
2.             The European crisis is the continuation of the 2008 world capitalist crisis also known as the Great Recession, its current epicenter.
3.             Contrary to the claims of (bourgeois) economists and policy makers, this is not merely a financial crisis. [i] It is a multi-facet crisis of capitalism.[ii] It is a crisis of capitalist accumulation (growth). Moreover, it is a secular, systemic crisis that coincides with the planetary crisis fueled by carbohydrate-powered industrialization.  It is also a crisis of Our way of Life: a cultural crisis that of “civilization” that has been built on the premise of domination and exploitation of nature, including fellow human beings, the cultural basis of the class society institutionalized with the Agrarian Revolution, 10,000 years ago.
4.             The European crisis has already provided a pre-revolutionary situation in Greece. This was signaled by defeat of the four decades old two party system in the May 6th Greek parliamentary elections: the Pasok (a bourgeois socialist formation) and New Democracy (a right of center bourgeois party) that colluded with the troika--European Union (EU), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—to impose a bailout plan that mandates deep austerity measures lost their majority and could not form a government.  In a 300-member parliament, the Pasok took only 41 seats (13.18 percent of the vote) and New Democracy took 108 seats (18.85 percent of the vote). The anti-austerity parties surged; in particular the SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) rose to the second position with 16.8% of the vote and 50 representatives.
5.              The election was preceded by two years of intensifying mass protests, including general strikes. During the past six month the socioeconomic crisis has begun to be transformed into a pre-revolutionary situation. Self-activity and self-organization of direct producers could create an alternative revolutionary leadership to find a genuine way out of the crisis for Greece and show the way to other Euro zone countries in crisis, particularly Portugal, Spain and Italy.  
6.            It is high time for the European parties and currents that speak in the name of socialism, ecology or ecological socialism, especially in Greece and Spain where the crisis has assumed a depression-like proportions and mass resistance is strongest, to call for a United Ecological Socialist Europe as an alternative institutional framework to the capitalist European Union. Let’s not forget: European Union was formed by the European capitalist classes to serve their class interest.  A United Ecological Socialist Europe will favor a European integration from below—based on self-organization and self-activity of the European working people—to re-establish a society in harmony with itself and with nature.  The contrast between the European Union and a United Ecological Socialist Europe will not be more stark: for the former society is organized to serve the economy (the profit-making machine) while for the latter all economic activities will be organized by the direct producers in the interest of society and in harmony with nature.
7.             The slogan of the United Ecological Socialist Europe combined with transitional demands tailored to each country’s situation will help working people to imagine a workable alternative to capitalism.  In the pre-revolutionary Greece, it should be combined with a call for a government of direct producers and a constituent assembly based organizations of the Greek working people.  The constituent assembly will determine how the Greek people will proceed—as master of their own destiny empowered by their own organization and government and in solidarity with the rest of the European and world working peoples  not as hostage to the capitalist masters Greek or otherwise.
8.            The slogan of the United Ecological Socialist Europe as a perspective helps explain why dichotomies proposed in the context of the current crisis (negotiation for better terms for a Greek bailout, remaining within the Euro zone or breaking with it, nationalizing banks or not, whether to rely of the June 17 elections for a resolution to the crisis, etc.) are false choices if the capitalist system itself is not questioned. However, the perspective of a United Ecological Socialist Europe should not be taken as a recipe for an ultra-left sectarian course. Clearly, there are no ecological socialist currents in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, elsewhere in Europe or the world with any influence among the broad masses of the working people.  This is a law of historical development: consciousness lags reality.  The slogan is not meant to maintain and to reinforce this isolation. The perspective should help to break out of this isolation through participation in the building of the mass movement as it emerges in concrete situation and to build unity in action and encourage widest discussion and build all forms of participatory democracy among all revolutionary minded individuals and currents.
*     *     *
There have been 99 posts since my last communication (nos. 701 to 799 inclusive).  As usual, the focus has been ecology, environment and ecocide (11 posts), global warming and climate change and other planetary crises (16 posts), evolution and evolutionary theory (10 posts), science and methodology (8 posts) and issues regarding the Cuban revolution (11 posts).

Nine post deal with various species and four with natural history, four were book/film reviews and seven posts offered alterative visions, including ecological socialism.  A number of posts dealt with labor, anti-war and protest movements.

As I state regularly all signed articles represent the views of their author(s).  They are posted here because they relate to a subject of our interest and some from the mass media can even represent current bourgeois thought.  Only unsigned articles are the points of view of Our Place in the World.

A list of hotlinks to the last 99 posts follow:

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[i] For the past two year, the austerity approach to the European public debt favored by the German bourgeoisie represented by Angela Merkel, Chancellor, and supported by the French president Sarkozy, has been applied. The approach calls for frontal attack on the living standard of the working people to resolve the capitalist crisis as the debt-relief package for Greece exemplifies.
However, the test of events has discredited this approach. Greece and Spain where the austerity program has been implemented are in depression-like conditions. Unemployment rate in Greece stood at 21.7 in January 2012 and in Spain at 24.1 in March. Youth unemployment in both countries stands at 50%. Understandably, austerity has also led to the rebellion of the working people in Greek and to a lesser degree in Spain and contributed to the defeat of Sarkozy in the French presidential elections. The resistance to austerity could spread rapidly across Europe.  At the same time, the bond market—financial institutions that purchase sovereign debt—is no more willing to purchase Greek, Spanish or Italian bonds. Public finance remains in disarray.
This has given the Keynesian policy makers an opportunity. Prominent economists, including Nobel Prize laureates Paul Krugman and Amartya Sen, have criticized the German-led austerity approach. As Sen puts it: “There is, in fact, plenty historical evidence that the most effective way to cut deficits is to combine deficit reduction with rapid growth, which generates more revenue.” The Keynesian approach to macroeconomic policy differs from the neoliberal approach in that the former admits market failure in securing “full employment” to enable workers to earn their own livelihood and (2) that it favors provision of social services necessary for a smooth functioning of the capitalist economy and society. Thus, the Keynesians argue that the capitalist state has an important economic function (that the state and the market are interdependent). 
Over the capitalist long cycle of accumulation, Keynesian and neoliberal policies have alternatively been used and proponents of each claim historical support for their approach.  However, they seldom admit instances of the failure of their policies. For example, the Keynesian policies resulted in stagflation of the late 1970s and early 1980s and the 2008 financial crisis was most immediately caused by neoliberal policies. 
What is important to note is that neolibral and Keynesian controversies are about the best way to preserve the capitalist system.  They have little to do with how to arrive at a socioeconomic system best suitable for the working people and the planet.  Further, Keynesians also accept the need for austerity measures. However, they argue a pro-growth deficit spending program can soften the blow to the working people ensuring a less painful and dangerous path to recovery. 

[ii] Although the 2008 international Great Recession has manifest itself first and foremost as a financial crisis, it is neither merely a financial crisis nor it is simply due to bad (neoliberal) policies. It is the most serious systemic capitalist crisis since the Greet Depression of the 1930s.
The development of finance is integral to the process of capitalist accumulation:  it has increasing freed the accumulation process from the time requirements of the process of valorization of capital.  However fictitious capital—claims against future production; income generated by that production—is also money that is thrown into circulation as capital without any material basis in commodities or productive activity.  Thus, the potential for financial crises: speculation on future returns to capital that may or may not bear out.  All financial bubbles originate from this potential disparity.
However, if financial investment remains within reasonable bounds and valorization of capital proceeds without serious problems there will be no generalized financial crisis.  When the valorization process encounters problems and financial investment become increasing speculative as the result (because already held assumptions become invalid and because money flows from productive activities associated with industrial capital to speculation) generalized financial crisis happen as they did in 2008 and have been with increasing frequency and severity since the 1970s when the secular decline in the average rate of profit began.

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