The Spark

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

Strangling the Population of Cyprus

Apr 1, 2013

This editorial is from the March 29th issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

The second biggest bank on the island of Cyprus went bankrupt, showing the seriousness of the financial crisis that continues to flare up in one place after another. The fact that Cyprus, the smallest country in the euro zone, threatened an explosion of the euro and the fear of a general bank crash shows that we are sitting on a financial volcano.

The European leaders tried to extinguish the Cypriot fire by proposing to tax bank deposits, including those of ordinary people. It blew up on them: The announcement of this tax plunged the entire system into chaos!

A thunderclap struck, not only from the Cypriots, who rose up against this extortion, but also from the financial world, which feared the move would unleash a general failure of confidence in the banks. A short time after this measure was announced, it was abandoned.

The heads of State were completely overtaken by the situation. No one knew what was going to happen when the Cypriot banks were to reopen after a week.

The European leaders are pretending that their new plan is attacking Cyprus’ tax haven and protecting small savers. They now want to give themselves a virtuous appearance. What cynicism! Small savers won’t be taxed on their accounts, but they’ll be taxed in another way, since, on an island with less than a million people, the thousands of layoffs expected in the banking sector will be a catastrophe. As in Greece and Spain, some austerity leads to more austerity.

It’s ridiculous for the French finance minister to say that the new plan attacks the “casino economy” because it’s necessary to make the big Russian accounts pay. The whole world economy is a casino economy, and the bet on Cyprus is just the latest wager.

For years now, the entire capitalist class has dedicated a growing part of what it takes from the exploitation of the workers and public funds to speculation, instead of investing in production. This is what’s feeding the financial volcano.

The capitalist economy is the reign of anarchic competition, a war for markets and profits that can only lead to crises. The “bailout plans” are so much blustering about, where State leaders do what the financiers demand of them. They refinance banks, in reality, speculation, with billions of dollars, while imposing drastic austerity leading to unjust and criminal levies on the poorest.

In all countries where bailouts have occurred, unemployment has exploded, small businesses have shut down, retirees and workers have been reduced to misery and the economies have plunged into depression. The remedy is worse than the disease!

This policy is carried out by right wing as well as left wing administrations all across Europe, for they can’t imagine disobeying the true masters of the economy, the capitalists. Their only concern is to fatten the pockets of the richest and save their profits and wealth – even when they are dangerous speculators, even when the economy and society die from their actions.

But the workers, the principal victims of such an unjust and mad system, aren’t condemned to suffer. They have their numbers and the fact that they make the entire economy run. It means returning to the values of the workers’ movement, for workers need not only to defend themselves, but also to become aware that they have the force, the social power to take power from the bourgeoisie and its political puppets and to expropriate big capital which is leading society to catastrophe.

Communists have always affirmed, “The emancipation of the workers will be the work of the workers themselves.” This objective is necessary not only for all the exploited but for the entire society.