There’s no doubt about it. A class war is definitely on. Marx must be spinning in his grave: “See, I told you so! Historical forces are driving workers and capital into confrontation.” It’s like those who declared Marx’s “ism” dead with the collapse of the Soviet Union seeing ghosts back to haunt them.
Actually, we’re not saying communism is back we’re saying we’re witnessing a global class war, inspired not by radicals shouting “workers of the World Unite!” but by what we hear in the news as “the greed” of the Wall Streets of the world.
To grasp the global rather than domestic dimension of the situation just listen to Brazil president Lula’s damnation of “northern” nations.
‘This was a crisis that was fostered and boosted by irrational behaviour of people that are white, blue-eyed, that before the crisis looked like they knew everything about economics,’ Lula declared, March 27 at a news conference the week leading up to the G20 conference in London.
‘Now they have demonstrated that they don’t know anything about economics.’
Lula added that “no black man or woman, no indigenous person, no poor person” was culpable for the global banking crisis.
OK, it’s not quite how Marx would have defined it because to the old bearded one of the 19th century, class trumps race in the capitalist war.
But the more stately message to the leaders who were gathering in England, including US President Barack Obama and Britain’s prime minister Gordon Brown, came from Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, who more aptly set out the array of capital vs the proletariat.
Sharma called on G20 leaders to pursue an inclusive agenda to ensure that the outcomes of the summit benefit millions of people around the world who have lost jobs and livelihoods due to the economic downturn.
Noting that 90 per cent of global GDP will be represented at the G20 table in London on April 2nd, Sharma said all that will be missing will be 90 per cent of the world’s countries. “[T]he message of the ‘G172’ that is not invited to the London table, is that every country in the world needs a stable and vibrant global economy. In many of these countries, economic stability is a matter of life and death,” said Sharma.
“The simple fact of globalisation dictates that all countries, the world over, have been affected by a tsunami of crises – of finance and food, of energy and the environment. Equally, all have an interest in what goes into the G20 meeting, and what comes out of it,” he said.
Obama is in a peculiar place as the first non-white face to preside over the world’s largest economy, the one that bears the brunt of the blame for triggering the crisis. Accused by adversaries as being socialist, he is the one who must convince the working class who brought him to power that it is their taxes that must rescue the banks and big auto manufacturers and it is their jobs retrenched and salaries that must be cut to keep business afloat.
What a sell that must be in the first country set up as the first republic of free and equal humanity, which grew to become the the cornerstone of the free-market whose egalitié is now international poverty. So while the socialist Lula may have to revise the colour bar of his economic thesis, Karl Marx is rolling in his grave with laughter that the dialectic is capital vs labour.
Caption: Anti-capitalism protesters in London, April 1 for the G20 Summit.