Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Financial Corporatism: What it is and how to fight it

A large part of the problem is that state has effectively merged with the banking industry to create a new kind of government: financial corporatism. Over the last twenty five years, investment banks like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs have been welcomed into the centres of political power to help with PFI, health service reform and many other functions of government. There is a revolving door between government and the banks at all levels of the civil service. Number Ten staff , like Shriti Vadera, formerly of UBS, Jeremy Heywood from Morgan Stanley come and go between the City and Gordon Brown's private office. Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair's chief of staff left to work for Morgan Stanley. His boss walked into JP Morgan on a reported $1m salary for a part time job. Given this degree of intermarriage between finance and government it is hardly surprising that there hasn't been tighter regulation. The world-view of the financier has permeated public life, with disastrous consequences. This is going to have to change, and government is going to have to start disentangling itself from finance, if the present crisis is to be resolved.
The prophets of greed; THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL MELTDOWN, PART 1: An essay by Iain Macwhirter.

Contemporary capitalism is not just ‘financial’ capitalism. ‘Productive capital’ on the front line of squeezing out surplus value is not doing so solely for the benefit of the banks, and besides, also puts a chunk of their realised profit into financial assets. Contemporary capitalism is not going to ‘collapse’. It is vulnerable however, shown by its hysterical intolerance of any other economic model, while millions take objection to being squeezed for more surplus value whether through increased intensity of labour, or having the costs of their reproduction increased. To be superceded, or even reformed in any meaningful way, its own version of itself must be challenged; its legitimacy, competence and the self-confidence of structural greed.
Structural Greed by John Barker

Personally, I always knew that Blair (and of course his cronies) would be right at the heart of the global capitalist crisis when it unfolded. After promising everyone he was a 'pretty straight kind of guy' promising an 'ethical foreign policy', Blair soon waged a succession of criminal and disastrous wars based on lies. After leaving power to become a 'peace envoy' to the Middle East, Israel immediately saw its chance to besiege Gaza and threaten nuclear war with Iran. Given this, it was only really a matter of time after Blair took on a job 'advising' the bankers JP Morgan and Zurich Insurance that the entire world banking system would go into meltdown. No wonder the Archbishops of the Church of England have started quoting Marx - with the 'Tony Blair Faith Foundation' now up and running, they know they have to do something to keep the hopes of the faithful alive and stop a mass tide of atheism sweeping everything before it. Still, a chapter on the incredible lightness and joy of being a banker in the current climate would make a perfectly suitable ending for Blair's forthcoming memoirs...

For what the left can do in the face of the crisis, perhaps watch the following talk by editor of Socialist Worker Chris Bambery, and if you are in London perhaps try to attend the following meeting:

The Economic Crisis - How bad will it get? What can we do about it?
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1 (nearest tube: Holborn)
7pm, Thursday 16 October
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Larry Elliott (economics editor, the Guardian)
Michelle Stanistreet (Deputy General Secretary NUJ)
Charlie Kimber (SWP)
London bus worker
Organised by the People before Profit Charter. Oh, and watch out for spam.

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