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Opposing the European Rage of Privatization

Telecommunications, postal service, gas and transportation were the first public sectors that fell victim to the rage of unbridled liberalization..A drastic
structural change of the state has occurred from a producing to a guaranteeing state.
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By Thomas Fritz

[This article published in: Attac-Rundbrief 1/2004 is translated from the German on the Attac-Germany website,  http://www.attac.de.]

In the fall of 1984 the powerful industrialist association "European Roundtable of Industrialists" urged the establishment of a "Common European Home Market." The goal of the captains of industry was the removal of all trade barriers in the interior of the European Union to strengthen the competitiveness of European capital on the world market. The European commission gratefully took up these proposals and formulated a gigantic liberalization program in its 1987 white book. The 280 legislative proposals of the white book have not been completely realized. Nevertheless an extremely destructive dynamic of neoliberal re-regulation was released.

Telecommunications, postal service, gas and transportation were the first public sectors that fell victim to the rage of unbridled liberalization. By means of a bewildering mesh of secondary legal guidelines and regulations, transnational elites, economic lobbyists and the EU commission confirmed this privatization in European law. Its main supports are: a) prohibition of public monopolies and promotion of private monopolies, b) legal claims of profit-maximizing service providers to access to state subsidies and c) pressure to advertise public contracts with the obligation to award contracts to the cheapest supplier.

This progressive capitalization of public services is accompanied by a drastic structural change of he state, its transformation from a "producing" to a "guaranteeing state." The EU commission describes this process very inaccurately: "While a series of universal services were traditionally provided by the public authorities, the authoritie4s nowadays increasingly commission public or private enterprises, i.e. public-private partnerships, with these services and restrict their own role to identifying public goals, supervising, regulating and if necessary financing services." That the capitalist profit-making pressures stand structurally in the way of equal access to indispensable service assignments and are not annulled by well-intentioned "regulation" is not mentioned.

Encountering this transformation of the state by referring to the supposedly blessed times of "Rhine capitalism" or the Fordist "welfare state" is absurd. The essential function of the "social" state like e=very capitalist state consists in assuring the prerequisites for the smoothest possible production of profit. To this end, all middle class societies developed the legal models of "freedom of contract" and "private property." An emancipatory social resistance will have to annul these legal constructions through social appropriation of former "public" services and "private" production. Concepts of "global public goods" are not emancipatory as long as special treatment is graciously granted "public" goods while the sacrosanct "no-go area" is declared for the private-capitalist production process and its legal prerequisites.

The development of an emancipatory praxis of social appropriation is still in its infancy with Attac. However this praxis is central since commercialization advances briskly. Commercialization is now occurring in the area of nursing. A task force of the European standardization committee will develop a norm for "burial services" by 2006 that will prevent public excesses. The right to be laid to rest in any other EU country and establish a burial business is part of the "freedom of establishment" of the domestic market. Competition also rages here. The most important trade barrier for this stable business is also on the hit list: communal property as a cemetery.

homepage: homepage: http://www.mbtranslations.com
address: address: http://www.foodfirst.org

Thanks again, mbtranslations 06.Apr.2005 22:31

Progressive Democrat

It's interesting to trace the origins of "neo-liberal economic theory" back to the original pre-1970 work of the original "Chicago school" -- notably "A Positive Program for Laissez Faire" by Henry Simons. The original "privatization" scheme, from the U.S. point of view, was the expropriation for private gain of the terms "neo-liberal" and "libertarian" by the corrupt and arrogant Hayek/Friedman/Ludwig v. Mises gang of academic frauds.

I have been unable to locate Simons' "A Positive Program for Laissez Faire" (1934) on the iNet, although I once had a paper copy of it so that I know it exists somewhere. Does anyone know of any source for that book or pamphlet?

It's also interesting to consider how this immoral destruction of the common good proceeds from the post-1970 "neo-liberal" postmodernist deconstruction of the concept of "common good." In the U.S., I think, a major tool used to effect this kind of thing is U.S. corporate law, with the myth of "corporation as person" and also the myth that the highest duty of corporate officers is to maximize the profits of shareholders. My meager understanding of European law is that much more discretionary authority is given to extra-judicial beaurocracies.

Finally, it's especially interesting how the E.U. trade forces are engaged in what -- except for the existence of the W.T.O. -- would have to be called a "trade war" with the U.S. corporate group.

Well, it's so comforting to know that at least all this "neo-liberal" destructiveness in the lives of ordinary people around the world has shown itself capable of delivering on its promise to bring an end to war ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Related articles recently posted -- 09.Apr.2005 02:09

Progressive Democrat

"Promised peace -- we get war" at


AND "Wall Street: How It Works and for Whom" by Yoshie (with a GREAT link)


AND "Capital Crimes: On Everyday Capitalism" by Arno Klonne (trans. by mbatko)