The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

A single bank, so that the population can control the banking system

Oct 20, 2008

The following is translated from the October 17 issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers' Struggle), published by the revolutionary workers' group of that name active in France.

Given the complete chaos in the banking and financial sectors, even government officials who formerly opposed government intervention now favor it. But to impose order out of this chaos, the competition at the heart of the financial system would have to be eliminated. If this is not done, then all the measures that the different governments are now taking will change nothing.

Certainly the banking landscape has changed over time, in very big ways. Many financial companies have gone under and been swallowed up by competitors. This transformation is speeded up by each big crisis, resulting in much greater concentration.

This concentration does not end the economic war between the remaining large financial groups. The fact that financial giants have grown into even bigger monsters has not made their battles any less destructive or less ferocious, even if there are fewer of them....

Each new giant conducts business according to its own private interest. In the name of this single and sole objective, each company tries to increase the interest of its stockholders and its big clients, while battling its rivals for a bigger share of the financial market.

As long as the financial system remains in the hands of private interests, divided up among rival groups, neither can the financial system function in a harmonious fashion, nor can it operate for the collective benefit of everyone.

For things to be otherwise requires, first of all, removing the control of private capital on the economy. In one word, this capital must be expropriated. The different components of the financial system must be fused into one institution, one, and only one, bank in which all financial operations would be centralized.

By centralizing the financial system, the economy could be managed in a coherent fashion that would be simpler, clearer and much less expensive compared to the one that exists today. Then a single accounting system could be put in place, that records all financial operations and the movement of capital. This would include the sales and the purchases of the large companies, so that all the operations and exchanges can be seen. This would make visible all the elements necessary for the real control and management of the economy.

This control must be exercised by the workers, beginning with those who would work in this single bank. These workers are in the best position, at all levels, to be informed of all that is decided, and to raise the alarm and alert the population when they see decisions being made that go against the common interest.

Additionally, it is necessary that the workers' organizations and the public be made aware of the choices and measures taken by this bank and that they are informed of the implications of these choices. There must be the full freedom and means to expose to the public what has been learned, which implies doing away with the laws that protect banking and trade secrets.

This is an ambitious objective, no doubt. Some will say it is unrealistic. But it will be within the power of the population, once it decides to take its own future in its hands.