Lenin and Engels on the Corrupting Influence of the Banks

Osborne Pic

Chancellor George Osborne – the ally of big business and the rich against the poor

Since Margaret Thatcher successive governments in Britain have pursued Neoliberal and Monetarist economic policies, which have seen the rich become immensely richer at the expense of everyone else. Thatcher decimated Britain’s manufacturing industry, and attempted to make the financial sector the dominant force in the British economy. The government thus adopted, under both the Tories and New Labour, a series of policies designed to promote the finance industry, and in particular, the City of London. These had a further effect of damaging Britain’s manufacturing industry still further by making our exports uncompetitive. The current government in particular has very strong connections to the City and its financiers.

Engels observed the corrupting influence of the financial sector on government in both France and America in a passage cited by the German Socialist leader, Karl Kautsky, and then by the Russian Communist leader, Lenin, in his 1918 work on the class nature of the state, The State and Revolution:

In a democratic republic, Engels continues, “wealth exercises its power indirectly, but all the more surely”, first, by means of the “direct corruption of officials” (America); Secondly, by means of an “alliance of the government and the Stock Exchange” (France and America).

Cited in Lenin: Selected Works (Moscow: Progress Publishers 1968) 271.

The above passage could describe government policies today, when so much of government policy is formulated to be benefit the banks and the financial sector, so that senior bankers and financiers have been co-opted as government advisors on the regulation and policies for the industry.

In the Great Recession caused by the 1929 Wall Street Crash, the French Communist party had no hesitation in pointing the finger at the bankers they felt were responsible for their country’s economic slump for their own profit, as the poster below shows.

Communist Anti-Bankers pic

While clearly the financial sector is important, we do need government policies that instead once again promote manufacturing, and create properly paid jobs, rather than unemployment, instead of the current Neoliberal, Thatcherite policies that benefit only the very rich at the massive expense of the poor, the sick, disabled and elderly. But this definitely ain’t gonna happen under Osborne. Instead, we’ll see more of the same, and a growing gap between rich and poor and consequent more poverty and despair. The sooner the Tories go, the better.

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