Alex Foti on Mon, 9 Mar 2009 12:42:01 -0400 (EDT)

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<nettime> From Precarity to Unemployment: the Great Recession and EuroMayDay

Opening Exhortation

To All Those Who Fight 4: Anarchy, Autonomy, Ecology, Queerness
To all media activists, creative workers, radical artists, union
organizers, immigrant and precarious youth

In 2009, as millions are made unemployed by the bankruptcy of
neoliberalism, hopefully all insurgent people and networks out there
will unite on the 1st of May for a global mayday against financial
capitalism and state repression, and for social redistribution and

>From Precarity to Unemployment: the Great Recession and EuroMayDay

Neoliberalism and monetarism have ended up ruining the world, like the
antiglobalization movement always said they would: like two mad
scientists, they proved socially, environmentally, and economically
unsustainable. And so they fucked up majorly and have produced the
worst economic crisis since the times of Roosevelt, Stalin, Hitler.
Problem is that it's hard to cheer because the vast majority of those
laissez-faire bankers and deregulating economists are still in charge,
still dictating the terms of the game. Those who precipitated the
crisis with their foolish policies of banking deregulation, welfare
privatization, trade liberalization, labor deunionization are still at
their desks! They tell us we should be quiet, accept layoffs and wage
cuts, take some fiscal stimulus if we are lucky, and after 2010 we
will again live happily under capitalism ever after.

BULLSHIT! And they are throwing trillions at the banks who have made
the riskiest of bets on real estate, paid off millions in bonuses to
assehole CEOs and let the economy hang dry when the debts were called
in. Trillions for bankers, cuts for people. This is the European
equation. Not only this is scandalously immoral, it's economically
counterproductive. Banks are hoarding liquidity for fear of going bust
and don't supply new credit.

As Keynes and Kalecki first showed, during great depressions monetary
policy doesn't work, since it falls into a liquidity trap. Only social
spending, public investment and redistribution away from profits and
rents toward wages and transfers is gonna do the trick. For three
decades, as they were happily pocketing the quantum leap in social
productivity afforded by the information revolution, the élites said
there was no public money for services, schools and the precarious
many, while hedge funds and private equity funds were siphoning off
zillions for the super-ritzy few. They said wages had to stay low,
because global competitiveness demanded it, until income distribution
became as absurdly unequal as it had gotten on the eve of the Great
Depression. No wonder another major depression has ensued. This crisis
is no random phenomenon, it was caused by the venality and stupidity
of the financial and political elites.

The Great Recession is shaking capitalism at its foundations and
undermining its social legitimacy. America, Europe and East Asia, the
core centers of global capitalism, have been hit particularly hard.
The North American economy is sinking fast. Europe is following suit.
Ireland risks going the way of Iceland. The meltdown is reaching the
heart of European capitalism. And the Baltics, Eastern Europe and
Ucraine threaten a financial abyss for the eurozone. Japan, like
Korea, has experienced a dramatic drop in exports and industrial
production. China faces a socially problematic slowdown in growth. The
global downward spiral has become self-reinforcing and hundreds of
thousands of jobs are lost every month. The specter of deflation and
serial bankruptcy looms everywhere. Millions of people will soon
become unemployed in the EU.

The majority of those being laid off are temporary, precarious,
immigrant workers in all sectors of the economy. They were the last
hired and are now the first being fired. Neoliberalism has made an
entire generation flexible and/or precarious, now its final demise is
making a whole generation unemployed. From precarity to unemployment:
this is what free-market globalization and the European Single Market
have finally led to. In Europe, the eurocracy remains committed to the
stability pact and monetarism, to competition and the race to the
bottom for workers' rights and social services. Interest rates stay
positive, deficit spending is very weak, incomes keep going down,
layoffs are spreading at an alarming rate, xenophobia is increasing
among the native working class; this is the situation we're in.
Following Polanyi, we can say the euro is the political equivalent of
the gold standard in in the interwar period, forcing deflation on the
throats of european workers as a way of macroeconomic adjustment to
the depression.

While in America neocon market bigotry has been finally unsaddled, in
Europe orthodoxy reigns, since the very same gerontocratic elites are
still at the helm untroubled, dictating yet another round of social
sacrifices so that they can continue remain at the top. We must
overthrow them. We, the precarious youth and migrant generation of
Europe must rock Strasbourg, Brussels, Frankfurt, the eurozone and the
rest of the continent to establish a neutral, social, radical europe.
The task is immensely daunting, no doubt. But in Athens, Malmoe,
Sofia, Oslo, Vilnius, Riga, in the Italian, French, Spanish student
movements, in French and Belgian general strikes, in the countless
demos for Gaza in all the cities of Europe, where muslim and dissident
youth joined forces against european xenophobia as much as against
israel's ferocious militarism, we have seen that large-scale
rebellion, mobilization, protest is possible. It will only increase in
the next months, starting with London against G20 (Financial Fools
Day!) and in Strasbourg against NATO in early April.

The Great Depression led to keynesian policies, union counterpower and
the fordist welfare state. We must act to make sure that the Great
Recession leads to economic redistribution, social emancipation,
ecological community. In the short term, the fiercest fight will be
around the destination of the huge flows of public money that are
being poured to prime the economic pump. This should be our position:
One trillion euros for basic income, not for banks! Socialize credit:
spend money on precarious workers, not on wealthy bankers!

In Europe, this crisis can either go authoritarian right or social
left, there will be nothing in between. It can either strengthen to
sarkozist statism and the EU police state, fan the flames of
xenophobia and islamophobia, further scapegoat immigrants and the
undesirables, or it can newly empower the precarious and the excluded
in huge struggles, produce universal entitlements like a european
basic income and free higher education, give rise to new forms of
urban democracy, new forms of solidarity between service and cognitive
labor. In the global recession, the euro is posing itself as the new
reserve currency, as the new standard of international value. This
means reinforcing the power of property and amassed wealth in
euroland. If European monetarism is alive and kicking, the crisis has
exposed the cracks and faults already existing in the EU. After having
being beaten thrice at the ballot, the Union has been unable to devise
a common response to the crisis, and countries are left to their own
means and national policies, which they are using to heavily subsidize
 their banks and corporations. Subsidies are going to shareholders and
bondholders, not to the unemployed or underemployed.

In Malmö at the ESF, Michael Hardt saluted the General Freeters' Union
in Japan as the first revolutionary syndicate in the world committed
to the cause of migrants and/or precarious, and EuroMayDay in Europe
for trying to do the same: Oficinas de los Derechos Sociales have
established a network of social defense for migrants and precari@s in
Spain: ChainWorkers and Intelligence Precaria have created social
media for precarized workers in airports, call centers, publishing,
education in Italy; Helsinki mayday is part of the social center
movement fighting antiziganism and zero tolerance on street culture,
and of the student movement that has just occupied the university; the
Liège mayday network, which organizes precarious and migrants and
connects with Brussels, Ghent and other cities, is providing impetus
to the first explicitly radical european network active in
countersummit protests and theoretical strategizing to finally bring
revolution to the EU. Soon the times will be ripe to create a
distinctive political tendency that will put the 20th century red and
green left in the reformist league where it today belongs. Pink
postcapitalism is near!

We should also build a paneuropean biosyndicate of the precarious and
the unemployed, the excluded and the exploited, the discriminated and
the arrested. The alternative is the slide toward patriotic
sectionalism and even xenophobia that was noticeable in the strikes in
the UK energy industry. Mass unemployment will make the sirens of
proletarian nativism and racism very seductive. Transnationalist
solidarity must be organized, it won't happen by default in the Great
Recession. We have to organize the precarious and the unemployed
youth, the second generation born in Europe that yearns for freedom
from police persecution and equality of treatment and opportunity:
et's fight the police state, let's reclaim the welfare state; we are
all punk islamic queers!

EUROMAYDAY 009: Creative Anarchy, Social Autonomy vs the Crisis and its Makers


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