Monday 7 May 2012

The French Go Dutch!

Now Hollande is running France, my European geography is really messed up. But seriously, I am watching this with huge interest because what happens next across the channel could potentially give hope to millions of working people across Europe.

The right wing, neo-liberal has dominated the economic and political agenda for decades. The banking collapse in 2008 has allowed the elites (who caused the mess by combining greed with policies of deregulation) to use the techniques outlined in Naomi Klein's 'The Shock Doctrine' to decimate the public sector for the enrichment of the corporate world.

The misery caused by the austerity agenda cannot be simply brushed aside by the capitalists as a 'necessary evil'. The damage to people lives is clear even to the wealthy. Mass unemployment, especially with the young, and financial uncertainty affecting almost everyone except those on extremly high incomes.

When given an opportunity, the people will punish these oligarchs at the polls. Sadly in the UK, we mostly face a choice of different shades of the austeriy agenda, from Labour to the Tories. In France, given an anti-cuts, pro-growth candidate, it was clear what the choice of the electorate would be.

However, the real test is to come. Germany has already stated that Francois Hollande cannot renogotiate the European treaty on budget discipline. Angela Merkel will make it hard for the French to backtrack on Sarkosy's conservative deals. And now we will see the 'market' making Hollande suffer if he sticks to his election pledges.

If you have ever read Chris Mullen's excellent 'A Very British Coup' you will remember how the 'Market' (not the public, but the owners of the 170 companies that run 50% of the world's economy) punish a truly left wing fictional government. They cause huge financial pain to provoke a backlash against the socialists in power. It's hard to beat the corporate power brokers.

But I am praying for a miracle. We need an alternative to the cruelty of austerity budgets which destroy jobs, freeze wages (except for the rich of course) and cut back the sorts of public services the rich don't use anyway.

First France, hopefully Greece and then potentially the rest of Europe will throw off the corporate hackles and forge a new way forward. We need policies that support the needs of the majority of the population and are independent of the selfish needs of the Elites.

Vive la France! Liberte, egalite, fraternite!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Chris! On that subject,here's an article published recently enough in Le Canard Enchaine. It's an extract, i did the translation.

    “Les marches nous font bien marcher” de Jean-Luc Parquet

    So who are the markets ? The big bankers, the CEOs of insurance companies and of hedge funds (the famous « rapacious funds »). Why are they so powerful? Because they have an invicible weapon: the governments must rely on them to cover their deficit. That wasn’t always the case. Until 1973, the “Tresor public” (national treasury) used to borrow directly from the Banque de France. But that year, Pompidou (himself a banker) prohibited this practice, thus forcing the State to call upon private banks: they lend and fix the interest rate as they see fit. Since then all the other European countries, and Europe itself, have done the same. Hence this grotesque situation: it is prohibited for the European states to seek finance directly from the European central bank. But this latter (the ECB) can refinance private banks with very low interest rates, and these in turn can lend to governments, at much higher rates! Why are government thus offered, hands tied, to the markets? Because for the past twenty years, and particularly since the Wall came down, the big names in international politics have converted to "le capitalisme triomphant".