Crisis and Wars
By Eckart Spoo
[This article originally published July 16, 2003 in Ossietsky is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.linksnet.de/artikel.php?id=952.]
What the governing politicians are doing is absurd and inhuman: extending working hours with mass unemployment, rearming without any threat, intensely burdening the poor and relieving the rich and so forth. The new book by Winfried Wolf explains why they do this. The diligent journalists who was active politically in the past uncovers the economic backgrounds. This book shows how the capitalist economy drives into crisis. The actions of politicians against crisis only enlarge the danger of system crash.
In the years 1993-2000, the value creation of productive businesses in Germany rose 22 percent while the number of working hours declined 24 percent. Dependent employees had to accept real wage losses of six percent. In the other highly industrialized capitalist countries, mass purchasing power lagged far behind the development of production. Such an imbalance (overproduction/ under-consumption) developed that the economic press predicted a collapse as at the end of the 20s. “The slump or bear market is only comparable with 1929. The world is up to its neck in `bubble trouble’ as the economic magazine Handelsblatt said in March. “The parallels to the present are amazing”, Spiegel wrote with view to “black Thursday”, October 24, 1929. The international economic crisis was organized annihilation and destruction. In London, whole shipments of oranges were thrown into the ocean. In Denmark 1500 cows were slaughtered weekly and their meat was processed in fertilizer. In Argentina hundreds of thousands of sheep were stabbed to death. Transport to the slaughterhouses would have cost more than the proceeds.
Distributing food free of charge to the needy was never considered because the holy of holies – the profit system – would be abandoned. However everything else was devalued including the person. The unemployment numbers climbed to record levels as we are now experiencing again three-quarters of a century later. Wages fall and are forced down along with social security benefits. In December 1929 the association of German industry passed a resolution demanding the “reduction of the social budget” and “liberation of entrepreneurs from the fetters of wage agreements. Before that in 1928, leading German industrialists in light of the first signs of crisis urged the “creation of a Third Reich”. 70 years later the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper recalled the benefits of the establishment of the Nazi dictatorship at the beginning of 1933 by pointing out that profits would rise again after “smashing the unions” and “the return of peace to the wage front”. While German industrial companies posted massive losses on the average in 1932, their capital profit was positive in the middle of 1933 and even rose to 4.6 percent in 1934. Capital profit had already reached a level that hadn’t been attained in the whole second half of the (golden) twenties.
How fitting when capital radicals now call for breaking the “wage cartel”! The right of dependent employees anchored in the basic rights section of the German constitution to assert their interests collectively against big money is violated in exploitation and the hunt for profit. In his new book, Wolf tells about the crisis in other countries, for example in Japan and the Southeast Asian tiger states. He mentions Argentina as a drastic example of what happens to those who zealously privatize following the demands of the US government and the International Monetary fund, open themselves to foreign capital and sink into mass misery as a result of the great sellout. He analyzes the brutalization of world politics through the striving for control of oil fields and for military hegemony. He takes stock of the most recent war against Iraq and refers to the growing interest in West Africa. “West Africa represents the fastest growing source of oil and gas for the American market”, declared the 2000 energy report of the US government commissioned by Vice-president Dick Cheney from the oil industry. Much of the news from the last days and weeks can be explained on this background (unrest in Liberia, intervention of former European colonial powers with German involvement in the Congo, visit of US president Bush in this region).
Wolf speaks soberly and free from illusions about the criminal energies of capitalism. Still he doesn’t preach pessimism. He agrees with those who proclaim: “Another world is possible” and adds “another economy is necessary”. He means an economy “in which massive social resources are used according to plan”. This different economy can only function on the base of radical democracy. In contrast capitalism means dictation of the market and profit and tends to political dictatorship. This tendency intensifies in times of grave crises. As DGB (German Union Alliance) president Michael Sommer said as a demonstration speaker on May 1, 2003: “We are attacked as once in the dying phase of the Weimar republic”.
[Winfried Wolf: “Sturzflug in die Krise” (Nosedive in Crisis), The World Economy, Oil and War.]