Five years ago the world banking system, the foundation of the imperialist social and economic system, fractured. Huge financial institutions sank into bankruptcy as each found that its speculations (they call them “investments”), which seemed so safe and secure, so insured by other huge banking houses, suddenly crumbled like a falling house of cards.
From small countries like Iceland and Ireland to huge centers like the United States, the billionaires demanded that each country empty its coffers of their peoples’ accumulated wealth and transfer it over to fill the banks’ vaults. Of course, they didn’t consult the workers in these countries.
The rulers generated an air of panic. They told the workers, who are the producers of all this wealth, that this was all necessary to prevent a complete breakdown of social and economic order. Millions were thrown out of work. Millions lost their homes to foreclosures, from Detroit to Lisbon to Athens to Marseilles to Dublin to Las Vegas to the mining towns of South Africa. All sent the same message to the workers – accept this!
But this bankers’ robbery did not stem the fears of the billionaire class. Yes, they have hoarded the vast wealth they have appropriated. But because of the vast armies of low-paid workers from Asia, Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe and elsewhere now available for exploitation, because of the breathtaking development of computer technology, the giant corporations cannot sell the huge quantity of goods and services now produced at the rate of profit they’re used to. Overproduction has mired the worldwide capitalist system in its deepest crisis, and it is only getting deeper.
What to do? In Europe, “austerity” has become the bankers’ and their governments’ catchword, their slogan, their mantra. Hard-won gains like public health care, social security, pensions, health and safety controls, education, environmental controls — all are on the chopping block. They look to break every pledge, every promise, every contract with the workers, in order to stop the “drain” of wealth to those who produce it.
But around the world, and particularly in Europe, workers are uniting and building a stronger and stronger resistance movement to the banker governments’ austerity measures.
From Greece to Portugal, from Spain to Italy, millions have flocked to the streets to fight back. Labor organizations and workers’ parties are pointing to Nov. 14 as a day of Continental general strikes, demonstrations, and other forms of struggle against the harsh austerity measures being imposed. n