Posts Tagged ‘Labour Fluidity’

The Young Turks on Corporate Coup against Brazilian President

May 14, 2016

The leftist Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, has been impeached and removed from office on charges of corruption and breaking electoral rules on expenditure. In this piece from The Young Turks, their anchor, Cenk Uygur, argues strongly that the charges are merely a specious pretext for what is essentially a coup against the Left by Brazil’s rich and corporate elite.

Rousseff was in a coalition with a centrist party, led by Michel Temer. After her removal, Temer took over the reins of power. But unlike Rousseff, Temer is massively unpopular. In polls, he has a popularity rating of 1 per cent. Which is probably as low as you can get for someone in government. Even Jeremy Hunt hasn’t reached that nadir yet, though he’s still going. And he’s hardly Mr Clean either. Temer is embroiled in a series of massive corruption scandals, far more than Rousseff. However, he’s been put in place because the elites love him.

Uygur argues that the coup has been arranged by the country’s financial backers. The big corporate media has been running campaigns against Rousseff. Those investing in the country include Goldman Sachs and the IMF, who are now demanding that the Brazilian government embarks on a programme of austerity – meaning more welfare cuts and tax reform, which will no doubt mean that the tax burden is once more transferred away from the rich to the poor. Oh yes, and they also want greater ‘labour fluidity’, which is corporate-speak for cuts to workers’ rights to make it easier to sack people. This was also a big favourite of Bliar and Broon.

As for the substance of the allegations against Rousseff, Uygur states that there may well be something there. But she’s nowhere near as corrupt or as unpopular as Temer. He quotes the very conservative magazine, the Economist, as saying that the allegations are unwarranted. Even Temer himself scoffed at the idea that she should be impeached.

Uygur concludes that this is how the corporate elite and the rich move against left-wingers once they’re in power. As soon as they start doing things for the poor, they find some arrangement to remove them, and replace them with the people, who will do what they want.

It’s not hard to see the reflection of what’s going on in American politics in this as well. Bernie Sanders was massively more popular with ordinary voters than Shrillary, but Bernie was for the blue-collar Joes and Joannas and against the corporate elite that fund the political machine. So the superdelegates, the party heavyweights, whose votes count for many more than the ordinary Democrat voters, back Shrillery instead. Who doesn’t represent anyone except Wall St. You can also see the same machinations in the EU with the Troika and their demands for the austerity regime in Greece and Italy and so on. Or in Honduras, where the Corporate elite, including Shrillary, backed a military coup that overthrew the president, Manuel Zelaya. Why? Zelaya had made terrible attacks on western capitalism by providing the poor with a minimum wage, and free education and electricity, amongst other things. The country’s corporate elite and Shrillary couldn’t permit this, and so once again, America backed a coup. Brazil’s coup is different, because it’s basically a peaceful change of government personnel, rather than a military takeover. But it’s a coup, nonetheless.

It shows the power of the transnational corporate elites, and how much they really despise lower classes, genuine working people, and just how far they will go to keep them from power.

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Social Darwinism and Alan Duncan’s Defence of Offshore Tax Havens

April 19, 2016

In the controversy over Dodgy Dave’s tax avoidance and the rich’s use of offshore tax havens to avoid paying their share of the nation’s finances, the Tory MP Alan Duncan stood up in parliament to defend his master. He argued that it was wrong to close them down, as this would penalise ‘achievers’ and stop them entering parliament. It wasn’t quite a Social Darwinist spiel, but it was almost there. It had most of the assumptions.

It took for granted that the rich had acquired their money through their own efforts, and that, as naturally gifted people, who had risen economically to the top of society, they also had a natural right to lead. None of this automatically follows. Firstly, probably the majority of the rich aren’t achievers in the sense that they haven’t earned their riches. It was already accumulated for them by rich ancestors. This is certainly the case for the aristocracy, and also for the big business dynasties. And they’re supported by important social and financial networks that ordinary mortals don’t have access to. The early Utopian Socialist Saint-Simon recommended the abolition of inherited wealth, so that the individuals in each generation would start out on a level playing field, and have to make their own money. I wonder just how many of Duncan’s ‘achievers’ would rise to their positions of eminence if that was the case, and they had to start out in council houses and in suburban housing estates with everyone else. Possibly very few.

Secondly, the tactics the rich have used to hang on to their money and retain their privilege are blocking opportunities for everyone else. Under New Labour, which was enthusiastically Thatcherite, social mobility had almost ceased. Now I think it’s stopped altogether. This isn’t an accident. Policies like the introduction and raising of tuition fees to exorbitant levels, and paying low wages so that employees cannot acquire the capital to start their own businesses naturally have the effect ensuring that those at the bottom of society cannot afford to take the opportunities that the rich take for granted. Duncan’s ‘high achievers’ in actual fact are the dead hand of the wealth past stifling achievement and innovation in the present.

And then there’s the whole assumption that because they’re good at business, somehow this entitles them to political leadership. This is obviously false, because capitalism, at least in its neo-liberal variety, is geared to enriching the few at the expense of the many. Hence the trickle-down economics, which has seen the tax burden shifted on to the poor to subsidize the wealthy, demands for wage restraint and labour fluidity, so that workers can be hired and fired easily. The result has been a massive growth in poverty, with about 4.7 million people in Britain now wondering where they’re going to get their next meal from. All to benefit Duncan’s ‘achievers’.

Duncan had to apologise for his speech. Who knows, he may have been sincere when he did so. But it showed the underlying snobbery and class bias underneath Conservatism. Marxists used to consider the ‘creators of wealth’ to be the workers, as in the slogan, ‘all wealth to the creators of wealth’. The loyal followers of Milton Friedman got hold of the phrase, and decided that the ‘creators of wealth’ were entrepreneurs, and, in particular, the financial sector. The result has been over three decades of such snobbish rhetoric, of which Alan Duncan’s latest speech was just the latest example. It’s high time this was brought to an end, and the neo-liberal policies scrapped so that real achievement can be made possible, and working people can enjoy their share as ‘creators of wealth.’