THE FOXES GUARD THE HENHOUSE
Interview with Susan George
[This interview published in: Freitag 3/19/2009 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, link to www.freitag.de
Susan George, honorary president of Attac France, speaks about the weak spots of the ruling elites, German crisis nationalism and Europe's role. As an immediate step, the banks should be brought under social monitoring.]
FREITAG: The present situation is confusing. We inherit the mess of the neoliberal era without a powerful reform movement. What should be central for those demanding serious changes of the world economy?
SUSAN GEORGE: Bringing the banks under social control or monitoring is the most important challenge. Whether this is called socialization, nationalization or something else is not crucial. The banks must be forced to give credits to small and medium-size businesses. Green ecological projects and cooperative businesses should be given priority. All private persons who want to buy climate-friendly houses or ecologically retrofit their homes should also be massively sponsored. Governments could support this with additional funds. There is enough money. Funds only need to be collected and bundled for these goals. The rich and corporations should be taxed properly. Tax havens should be closed, financial transactions covered with an international tax and debt cancellation carried out for the South so poorer countries can share in the global ecological campaigns.
Where are the weak spots of the ruling elites that could be exploited?
The elites have no ideas! They give the banks billions in tax funds but citizens receive absolutely nothing in return. I am always surprised enraged people do not take to the streets. Perhaps the lords of the establishment will regulate capitalism here and there. But they are also trying to preserve all the elements of the failed neoliberal doctrine.
What do you expect from the financial summit of the 20 economically strongest countries at the beginning of April in London?
Nothing at all in the sense of rational solutions. At the G20 meeting, there will be an attempt to force the liberalization of world trade and outfit the International Monetary Fund with billions upon billions.
We were right. No one on the other side wants to admit this. In the first crisis phase, the media were very willing to let critics speak. But now they are back to their normal business. We need more common action of the left to really get a hearing.
What will happen in Europe? What do you fear? On what do you base your hopes?
In its present state, the European Union is a hopeless case, a great obstacle for more reason. If the treaty of Lisbon goes through, if neoliberal policy gains a constitutional rank, if Ireland does not remain with its No in the second version of the treaty, we must worry even more. Support for the Irish No is eminently important. The general strike in France on January 29 was a sign of hope. We must set these signs all across Europe.
Susan George on Global Justice, YouTube:
"Disarm the Markets!" by Peter Wahl, a new Attac Basis text:
"The Crisis of Finance Capitalism as a Challenge for the Left":
G20 CRISIS POLICY: TOO LITTLE, TOO SUPERFICIAL AND WRONG
Attac criticizes Crisis Management
By Attac Austria
[This statement of Attac Austria published 4/1/2009 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.attac.at/index.php?id=7151&type=98.]
On the occasion of the world finance summit on April 2, 2009 in London, the global justice network Attac criticizes the crisis policy of the economically strongest 20 industrial and threshold countries (G20). The crisis forces G20 governments to take new measures in regulating the financial markets. However the planned measures are too few, too superficial and go in the wrong direction in several central points. "Speaking about avoiding future crises is not enough when a depression acutely threatens the world economy. Central problems are not tackled," Attac spokesperson Alexandra Strickner says.
Attac demands shriveling of the financial markets:
The draft of the final declaration of the London summit includes 24 measures to regulate the world financial system. Attac applauds the fact that the problems of tax havens and hedge funds are tackled on the international plane. Nevertheless this is all completely inadequate. "A little more transparency and monitoring were resolved. The dynamic and bubble-formation on the financial markets are unrecognized. Drastically shriveling the financial markets must be the goal. Taxes on financial transactions, controls, restrictions of free capital traffic and an end to tax havens, hedge funds and derivatives are imperative, Attac co-founder Christian Felber insists.
FREE TRADE IS THE WRONG MEDICINE:
In the draft of the joint communiqué, the heads of state and government of the G20 confess to the principle of free trade and an end to the Doha round of the World Trade Organization (WTO). One essential cause of the global imbalance and the crisis susceptibility of the world economy is the liberalization policy of many G20 governments of the last years. Free trade is still the wrong medicine," Strickner emphasizes. The current free trade negotiations must be stopped. Steps should be taken to a regionalized world economy based on mutuality. To gain more stability, the global imbalances between surplus- and deficit countries must be permanently dismantled with the help of an International Clearing Union.
Many points of the planned final declaration were merely statements of intent without concrete steps of action, Attac criticizes. "The current development of the world economy is dramatic. The regulation of the world economy must be set on a completely new foundation," Felber urges. Warning of competition-conditioned currency devaluation is not enough. Steps to stable exchange rates are connected with a new world reserve currency beyond the dollar-hegemony."
"The pressure of the population is necessary so our demands to the G20 summit do not die away unheard. The protests on March 28 showed people can resist. Our protest will grow," Strickner is convinced.