The Spark

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

France:
Why Should Workers Pay the Debts the Government Took on to Save the Bankers?

Jun 14, 2010

The following is translated from the May 28 issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers’ group of that name active in France. The problems it raises will sound very familiar to workers in this country.

Two years ago, at the point the stock market crisis erupted, all political leaders pretended that saving the banking system was necessary for the entire society. What they were really trying to save, however, were the bankers, the ones responsible for triggering the crisis.

No government proposed to expropriate the bankers or take control of the banking system. To the contrary, governments gave them hundreds of billions of dollars, asking nothing in return. And as soon as they were “saved,” the bankers went right back to speculating, just like they did before the crisis.

Every government went deeply into debt to save the bankers. The U.S. government took on the biggest debts. Today they all must borrow to make payments on these new debts. What governments owe grows along with the interest, of course. So governments propose to cut back on other expenses, above all, on the social expenditures and public services that benefit the population.

The French government already announced it plans to reduce the minimum wage and cut aid for housing and job benefits. Like the U.S. government, the French government proposes cuts in health care expenditures. It proposes to block further national government contributions to local governments. And there is an ongoing attack on Social Security benefits.

...

The same political leaders who poured billions into the banks loudly claim that the national debt has become insupportable. But it wasn’t workers who drained the government of funds. Since billions went straight to the pockets of the bankers and the big capitalist corporations, they are the ones who should pay!

...

If workers don’t want to be completely crushed by capital, it’s necessary they defend themselves with their own means, with their own class weapons: strikes, street demonstrations, a social explosion so powerful that the capitalist class fears for its profits, for its property, for its power over the economy.

Workers must take control of business and bank accounts, or else the bosses will pretend they don’t have the means to pay wages and benefits. Workers must be able to verify the bosses’ accounting, including what they claim as income and expense and what they pay the shareholders.

It’s the only way the working class can stop this plunge toward misery.