December 2011        

Monopoly capitalism: “technocracy” or fascism?

It would appear that the European Union is moving rapidly into an era of direct technocratic control over member-states, without any pretence of sovereignty for the member-states or any democratic process or values.
     This is something that the CPI and some other organisations, such as the People’s Movement, have described as happening in a gradual process through a succession of treaties. Early in the present crisis the CPI identified the response of the EU as a grab for as much power as it could—not for the benefit of peoples but for the class and system it represents: monopoly capitalism.
     With little establishment fuss or parliamentary debate, member-states are dropping into “technocratic” control through fascist-like coups. The fall of the Greek and Italian prime ministers, Papandréou and Berlusconi—as much as they are enemies of progressive people—were not victories for the people or for democracy. They were not recalled and replaced by the people: they were recalled by financial elites and their political cronies, in the case of Italy to be replaced by hand-picked technocrats. This is a government that includes not a single elected member.
     With barely an eyelid batted, democracy has been suspended in Italy and an unelected government of seven former employees of Goldman Sachs installed, including the new prime minister.
     Later the same week the draft of the Irish budget was being discussed in the German parliament, before it was published in Ireland.
     Capitalism has traditionally favoured maintaining the illusion of democracy through elections. However, when moments of crisis hit, democracy is cancelled. Even the limited forms of Tweedledum-Tweedledee celebrity-factor democracy that exists throughout Europe now seems too risky and threatening to the present-day accumulation process.
     The Bulgarian Marxist and heroic anti-fascist Georgi Dimitrov described fascism as the terrorist dictatorship of finance capital; and I would recommend to readers that they dust off their Dimitrov books, or start a web search, because he went on to say:
     “The imperialist circles are trying to shift the whole burden of the crisis onto the shoulders of the working people. That is why they need fascism. They are trying to solve the problem of markets by enslaving the weak nations, by intensifying colonial oppression, and repartitioning the world anew by means of war . . . Fascism is the power of finance capital itself. It is the organisation of terrorist vengeance against the working class . . .”
     Dimitrov did not describe fascism as the terrorist oppression and mass murder of Jews: that was a particular form it took in a specific historical context. Fascism is the direct and anti-democratic rule of finance capital, something we are moving very close to in both Europe and the United States today.
     Given technological changes and the central role that information—correct or incorrect—plays in the accumulation process, those people sitting on billions of euros, which they can move at the click of a button, do not care for the rhetoric that some populist politicians use to get themselves elected or in responding to their constituents’ demands, as that might scare the markets and affect their billions. Therefore it is better for them to have people in charge who are not responsible to the people at all, and who don’t respond to constituents but respond only to the markets’ own demands.
     Parliamentary democracy grew and developed out of the demands of a rising capitalist system and the conflict of forces that was being played out. It was used to break down feudal privilege and, under the guise of liberalism and freedom, to break the restraints on capital. But a free capital does not lead to a thriving of competitive capitalism but in fact to its opposite: monopoly capitalism.
     As capital is accumulated through the creation of profit, it concentrates into monopolies, which are best placed to ensure its further accumulation, and so it further concentrates and accumulates, in fewer and fewer hands.
     And where once profit-creation came largely through a commodity production process, today the dominant avenue for capital to flood into, and consequently the dominant source of profit-creation, is financial speculation, through a variety of innovations, “products,” funds, derivatives, algorithms, and on-line casinos.
     Industrial policy, even as limited as it was, directing and developing an economy along some kind of path with some political and democratic accountability, has been replaced by credit flows. The deregulation of banks and the creation of the euro, breaking down potential costs and any checks and balances against the free flow of capital, led to countries being swamped by cheap and easy credit; and it was this flooding of credit and the M–M accumulation process (described in previous issues of Socialist Voice) that shaped economic development and that today has moved the system further and further towards fascist government.
     Maybe the role played by finance capital is not much different from that in Dimitrov’s time, but there appears to be a big difference in scale and speed. The barriers are far less, and it can create havoc far more quickly; and the dependence of the system on speculation as a source of profit-creation would appear to be far greater.
     The turn to finance was not a choice of policy-makers or of a corrupt “golden circle”: it was a systemic necessity. When over-production occurs in a particular avenue for capital it is essentially blocked off to further meaningful investment; and as over-production infected manufacturing in the middle of the last century, surplus capital required new avenues, which it found in financial products and speculative investment in finance-related areas.
     Likewise today the turn to technocracy—or fascism—is not a choice of right-wing market fundamentalists: it is a systemic necessity. Democracy is a threat to the rule of finance capital, to monopoly capitalism. People will not willingly continue to hand over capital from themselves and their families and future generations to the 1 per cent, the amoral capitalist class, that rules the world.

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