• #WeNeedAPlanB
  • Against the power of the oligarchy, power for the people.

  • By Amelia Martínez Lobo | 24 Jan 16 | Posted under: European Alternatives
  • On the next 19, 20 and 21 February a Grand European Conference Against austerity, for a democratic Europe will be held in Madrid.

    After the events in Greece last 2015: financial coup launched from the European Union and its institutions and the subsequent adoption of the third memorandum- racketeering by - the Greek population has been ordered to continue to suffer austerity policies that had already been rejected by the polls twice. These facts, along with an absolutely perverse increase in the inequality crisis, and with an increase of alternative forces against austerity in different parts of Europe, have intensified the debate about the real role of the European Union as a guarantor of fundamental human rights of the social majority.

    Recently, Oxfam has published a report, an economy at the service of the 1%, which claims that "economic inequality is growing rapidly in most countries. The world's wealth is divided in two: almost half is in the hands of the richest 1% of the population, and the other half is divided among the remaining 99%."

    According to the report, in 2015, 62 people had the same wealth as 3.6000 million (the poorest half of the world);besides, these 62 people have increased their wealth by 44% in just five years; while the poorest 10% have only increased its daily income in less than a penny.

    How did we get here?

    1) The financial sector and the illegitimate debt

    There is a complex web of tax havens, where according to the Oxfam report more than 7.6 billion dollars are being hidden, equivalent to more than the GDP of  the United Kingdom and Germany together. The deregulation of the financial system, banking secrecy and globalization in financial activities have favored the ruling classes, those that have enough resources to play and market anything, given that everything has a price in the capitalist system.

    On the other hand, debt has been and remains being a perverse mechanism of submission and domination. The increase in public debt in many European countries is nothing but a "directed political program" as you can read in the report of the Truth Commission on Public Debt requested by the Greek parliament, which analyzes Greece’s situation.

    "The technical exercise surrounding macroeconomic variables and projections of debt- Figures which refer directly to the lives and livelihoods of the people - has allowed the debates around it remain at a technical level that revolves mainly around the argument that the policies imposed on Greece will improve their ability to pay the debt. The facts in this report question this statement. "

    All evidence submitted shows that the debt arising from the agreements with the Troika is a direct violation of the fundamental human rights of Greece’s inhabitants. Therefore, Greece should not pay this debt because it is illegal, illegitimate and odious.

    However, we all know what happened in July 2015.

    2) Return on capital versus job performance

    Work has been a tool for the redistribution of wealth. However, since 2014 return on capital has surpassed work in their share of national GDP, in countries like Spain. This means that the working class benefits less each day from this economic growth. However, we live under a sort of mantra, base of the neoliberal dogma, according to which growth in macroeconomic terms benefits the whole society. This shows that it is not so.

    But it's us, women, who are enduring most of the consequences of rising inequality and the system's perversion. According to OXFAM, "most of the lowest paid workers in the world are women, executing the most precarious jobs." Cuts in social services, health care and assistance for people with special needs, generally makes women have to assume these tasks. This is due to cultural issues - in a country like Spain, where a woman a week is killed by male violence, there is still a long road ahead- but above all they are economic issues. There has been a rapid feminization of unemployment, scarcity and poverty. The cuts and austerity measures are especially opposed to equality because austerity policies are policies against women. It is women who are suffering the cuts and the plundering of public services and its women who are most directly affected by the destruction of public services that cover the most basic social needs. The destruction of our schools, hospitals, care services for people in need, shelters for women victims of violence ... is destroying women’s autonomy. Women’s freedom and citizenship is being cut off. The consequence is that women, coercively, assume the care giving tasks corresponding to the state, while our economic, labor and  social rights recede. With their cuts, we force women in to "internal exile". 

    3) Corporate Power

    The current economic model, in fact, resides its power in supranational entities without any democratic control. These are the big transnational corporations that with their influence - through blackmail or purchase of wills, like the revolving doors - interfere in the legislative capacity of states and their sovereignty. Sweden recently withdrew its bench for the independence of the Sahara, so that Ikea can open shop in Morocco. The Moroccan authorities had blocked the opening of their new store in Casablanca after the Swedish parliament voted possible recognition of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic. This is another example of interference and a frontal attack on popular sovereignty by corporations. On the other hand, there are numerous examples of "regulatory chill" because of the Investor-state dispute settlement (the famous ISDS included in the CETA or controversial ICS TTIP, the first of which is still pending in the Parliament and the second is being drafted by the European Commission).

    Plan B

    Therefore, we need a disruptive solution, radical and democratic. The rise of fascism, capitalizing on discontent through fear and xenophobia is alarming. We must learn from our own not too distant history. We must demystify the neoliberal fallacy that affirms these of being naive and utopian views. We know that our disruptive alternative is possible. We know that the planet has enough resources for all human beings to have decent living conditions. However, many of which are hidden in tax havens, after massive expropriation of the working class’s resources in favor of the ruling class.

    There are numerous examples and measures referred to by different parties or social movements such as:

    • As guarantor of wealth redistribution, broad participation work performance in the economic system. Decent wage with decent working and living conditions.
    • Removal of tax havens and fight against tax fraud.
    • To increase public spending on health, education and social services which fight social inequality.
    • To create mechanisms of democratic and parliamentary control over the European Central Bank and the same contingency to the political authorities
    • To democratize bank’s management  and the abolition of banking secrecy
    • For it to be mandatory for all multinational companies and their subsidiaries to account for their activities in overall terms and for it to be broken down by country
    • Fair tax policies headed towards fair distribution of wealth and the service of a new development model
    • Removal of all the possibilities of circumvention for large fortunes and corporations referred to in national legislations, making effective the principles of generality, fairness and progressivity
    • End of revolving doors
    • Public services are to be protected as fundamental rights of citizens, and as such must be protected from private speculation. Public services are financed by a progressive tax system and not finalists, with justice and social welfare criteria.
    • Elimination of inequality between women and men in the workplace, to implement the human right to work under fair conditions and the economic independence of women
    • End the use of Memoranda of Understanding. Establishment of criteria for democratization, transparency and accountability for all processes, making macro-decisions in the field of economic policies. The major macroeconomic decisions must be preceded by a real public debate and binding referendums

    This is not to reinvent the wheel, Marxist theory already headed towards an overall understanding of society, since there are no absolutely separate, independent or tight areas. In reality everything is intermingled. However, it’s the bourgeois ideology the one that advocates the idea that economy is an autonomous part with entity of its own. However, you need an analysis and complex solutions that take into account all social relations. Currently, we are in a system that has its economic and neoliberal dogma as something alien to citizens and other social relationships. It occurs, for example, as economic science that tax rates for companies should be low to stimulate economic growth. But this system favors those who already have more and not the whole of society.

    Former Greek parliament president, Zoe Konstantopoulo, said she prefers to call it Plan A because of the supranational powers, without democratic control or collective, that didn’t let them carry out their own plan, which was none other than putting institutions to serve the public, as they had already expressed at the polls and in the streets.

    It will be, in any case, a collective project, internationalist, involved and supportive, or it will not be. The weapons to transform our society must be found in itself. The real transformation, as Marx pointed out, cannot be done from society’s top or from their political and intellectual elites, but that all individuals have to emancipate. It is therefore necessary to generate the collective and participatory tools to promote this emancipation and fulfill our historical, ideological and moral responsibility to actually convert our alternative in a reality.

    The next 19, 20 and 21 February a Great European Conference "Against austerity, for a democratic Europe" (http://planbeuropa.es) will be held in Madrid, it will be attended by various political, social and intellectual agents. The European left must meet there to search for the space of European convergence, where to build a political, social, economic agenda  and mobilizations that put solutions and demands for social majorities on the table, so they move to the streets and  to the institutions. One foot in the institutions and millions on the streets.

    Oxfam report

    https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/bp210-economy-one-percent-tax-havens-180116-es_0.pdf

    Sweden and the Sahara

    http://www.publico.es/internacional/suecia-retira-apoyo-independencia-del.html

    On the Greek audit

    http://www.transform-network.net/en/blog/blog-2015/news/detail/Blog/-7df8c4d114.html


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