The United States is veering towards a debt default, Cyprus looks set to be the fourth Eurozone country requiring a bailout and the UK economy is now more or less flatlining. The solution to the global crisis requires international resistance, argues Kate Hudson.
Whether or not US politicians cobble together an agreement on their trillion dollar debt, it is clearer than ever that we are facing a global economic crisis of mammoth proportions. These are not problems that are national in the making, nor problems that can simply be blamed on the bankers. This is a systemic crisis on a global scale that requires answers on a global scale.
As the crisis has escalated it has become clear that those who run the capitalist system are prepared to do anything to protect their interests and not to pay for their crisis. It is also clear that governments are prepared to wreak havoc on their own populations on the instructions of international financial institutions. In Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland, governments have knuckled under to the injunctions of the so-called ‘troika’ – the European Commission, ECB, IMF. In effect this has meant the imposition of brutal and ineffective austerity measures, privatisation – the plundering of the collective wealth of the people – and the destruction of social rights. These measures in turn have attacked the very democratic foundations of these societies.
This anti-people offensive is now being extended to all EU countries through the Euro Pact and the ‘new economic governance’. Quite simply, this aims to deconstruct what little remains of the social state and public services, while cutting back on salaries and social rights. Countries would be invited to apply these destructive policies and would be automatically sanctioned if they refused. This will be far worse even than the Maastricht Treaty in the early 1990s which imposed huge government spending cuts, causing massive unemployment, cuts to wages and to pensions.
Of course those attacks on working people led to enormous demonstrations – millions mobilised across Europe in response to the onslaught and the movement won many victories. Today too, we have seen significant protest taking place across Europe and elsewhere, in opposition to the austerity packages – aka swingeing cuts – which are depriving people across society, and hitting young people particularly hard, depriving them of education and employment.
We have been inspired by the protests taking place in Greece, in Spain, and elsewhere – the new mass movements challenging the very legitimacy of the failing political systems that are trying to prop up the failing economic system. In Britain too we have seen significant protest – the half a million-strong demonstration on 26th March, the pensions strikes and protests in June, and the many local campaigns which are springing up.
Protest so far has tended to be nationally based. Such protest is essential and is the bedrock of what is needed. But many people are now recognising the limitations of solely national protest. Voices from across Europe are calling for a convergence of struggles, for fronts of resistance everywhere which will assert the primacy of human need over the demands of finance.
The Coalition of Resistance here in Britain has recognised this need and is in strong agreement that resistance needs to be international, and it needs to be co-ordinated. As a top priority we are now working with movements and organisations across Europe and beyond to organise an international conference in London on 1st October. Our emphasis is on working together, with respect and openness, to maximise our strengths and agree common direction and action. Too often the movement in Europe has been divided between countries and within countries. If we are to be effective, that has to stop. Let us build on the positive aspects of the European Social Forum movement and of the powerful anti-war mobilisations of the last decade and let us take our international work to a new level.
The crisis is too serious for us to be divided in the face of the challenges confronting the people. The crisis is global and the solution will have to be global. Make sure you’re part of it.
The European Conference Against Austerity will take place on Saturday, 1st October at the Camden Centre in London, with a range of international speakers, debates and workshops. A new website, dedicated to the conference, will be launched shortly.
Kate Hudson is the General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and a founder member of Left Unity. She was instrumental in building the Stop the War Coalition and was one of the organisers of the million-strong 2003 demonstration against the invasion of Iraq. She has written widely on a number of subjects and spoken on many platforms. She is active in the People’s Assembly and the Greece Solidarity Campaign.