The dangers of recession
I recently came across a political pamphlet which had been distributed at a mass rally. A key passage in the pamphlet ran as follows:
“The end of capitalism is imminent. It has been caused by the natural greed of the owners of capital, and by the reckless behaviour of the banking system, pushing people and firms into excessive debt, and seeking unearned and scandalous personal benefits for the bankers. Capitalism is dead, and we will help to bury it. ”
The whole pamphlet was full of righteous indignation about the unacceptable nature of the capitalist system and the pain that its troubles were inflicting on working people; it ended by advocating a popular uprising that would take financial institutions into public ownership and force them to work for the people, rather than for greedy businessmen.
It may be interesting to say a little more about the origins of this pamphlet. First of all, this was not written as a response to current events, it was dated October 1932. Secondly, it was written in German (the above is my translation). And finally, right on the front cover we learn that it was published by the National Socialist Workers Party of Germany, the Nazis. And of course we know that whatever they wanted to do about the events they described, within about three months they were in a position to do it, and much more besides. What followed were some of the most horrific years in human history.
I am of course not suggesting that all those have been attacking capitalism in response to recent developments are in reality fascists. But dramatic economic crises bring all sorts of dangers in their wake, particularly where these crises are accompanied by an erosion of confidence in the key organisational structures of the economy and the political establishment. The conditions today are still, thankfully, nowhere near what they were in the late Weimar Republic, but it is still worth remembering that the risks we run are not just economic and financial.
What is worrying right now is the continuing growth of cynicism and anger, and the strong desire evinced in various public commentary to see someone ‘punished’ for the mismanagement that has been evident. Of course we need a vision and a plan. But as I have suggested before, this needs to be effectively communicated to the wider population. There is much to do, and the time for doing it is now.Explore posts in the same categories: economy, history, politics comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.