Where we stand‎ > ‎News & Comment‎ > ‎

THE VULTURES ARE CIRCLING By Ken Howell

posted 4 Mar 2016, 08:19 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 4 Mar 2016, 08:29 ]
It is said that during a grim dry season, when the land begins to crack and the water evaporates from the rivers and streams, that is when the animals die and the vultures begin to circle.
   To those capitalist cobos it would appear that we are currently in such a situation.

That is why all the imps from the “Milton Friedman School” of economics and those who argue in favour of the supply side are coming out of the woodwork like termites, with the news that the house is about to crumble.

There is no empirical evidence to support the contention that privately run businesses are more efficient than those that are managed by the State. This is a view which originated in the 1980s, in the era of the Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan administrations when the price of oil collapsed.

Dr. Darren Conrad who in his interview with Cleavon Raphael in the Sunday Guardian of February 21, 2016 under the title “Don't give WASA to private sector” would have learnt of that in his studies at Harvard University. Therefore, he should be careful when an emissary of the ANSA/McAL Empire seeks to mobilise him in their campaign to convince the working people and citizens of this country that there are benefits to be derived from the loss of jobs as a result of privatization.                                                                         

That view, reared its ugly head in the nineteen eighties because the ideologues of capitalist economics saw an opportunity to dismantle the rigid regulations and restrictions placed on businesses, along with the welfare programmes and policies, which included the nationalization of certain business entities, which previously were privately owned.


Ronald Reagan
Some of us will remember, the campaign led by United States President Reagan and the Republicans, against “big government” which really meant, that government should not be involved in the management of business. That should be the domain of private enterprise; so they said. As a result, a campaign was launched against the trades unions in England and the USA under the cover of foreclosures and the resultant retrenchments in the private and state sectors in those two countries.

More importantly, it was a campaign against an economic philosophy or strategy, - whatever name by which one would choose to call it - which the Economist John Maynard Keynes enunciated as the solution to the economic crisis of the 1930s and which was adopted by President Franklin Roosevelt of the United States of America at that time and which continued to be the economic policy followed up until the 1980s.

Following the defeat of fascism and the Hitler regime, Europe entered a period in which the state in the respective countries had to assume the responsibility, to a large extent, for the management of the economy, particularly those entities which were responsible for the provision of public goods. That is why in most of these countries railways, prisons and hospitals and some schools are the property of the state and a massive welfare policy and programme was implemented, largely to protect the most vulnerable, and because of the amount of influence which the trade unions had on government policies in those countries. 

The private sector in this country declared in the 1980s that they were taking the fight to the workers after the collapse of the price of oil, similar to the situation in which we are in today. Governments in Europe and Central and South America and the Caribbean, also adopted that stance and sought to implement those measures, not without dogged resistance from the unions. In England, the Thatcher administration locked horns with the trade unions in a bitter struggle which saw the destruction of the Mine Workers Union, while it failed in its efforts to privatize the health sector.

Here in this country, we could soon be preparing for a similar battle, if we are to judge by the kind of signals coming from the private sector, who no doubt believe that the time has come to prepare for such a confrontation. Especially since it would appear that some leaders in the trade union movement can be bought for 15 million pieces of silver.  That is because while they shout loudly about corruption and rightly so, about the last government, they themselves are engaging in the same type of corruption, while they pretend that that is not so.

If that is not so, then could they explain the reason why they want to convert an ad hoc grouping which came together to mobilise for struggle into another federation. What is the ideological difference between this grouping and NATUC? The only difference that I can see is that the OWTU, which was always an enemy of the PNM, seems to have become a close friend of that enemy of the working class and seems to be working tirelessly to bring the trade unions kicking and screaming into the prisons of the PNM.

The strategy which is being adopted is the typical divide and rule. Most of the unions which they are seeking to win over are members of NATUC. That is why I am calling on those right thinking trade union leaders to resist any attempt to form another trade union federation! That is not going to be in the best interest of the working class. Those right thinking union leaders must become wise to the hand of certain external forces represented by persons drunk with political ambition, and as a result, they have been used for many years to divide the trade union movement.

It is now time to expose them. If we fail to do so they will succeed in doing more harm to the working class. These elements, who pretend to be fighting with the working class, are in fact enemies of that class. While they pretend to be opposed to the right wing economic policies that have become the prescription recommended by the international lending agencies, very quietly, they support those policies, when they do everything in their power to divide the workers in order to prevent them from uniting to resist those said policies. 

To think that this view is still peddled today, even after the failure of Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae, Lehman Brothers and some of the major banks in the USA; the  massive corruption at HSBC and so on! The view that these enterprises were too big to fail is outrageous! As a consequence, taxpayers’ money was used to bail them out. Here in this country, we had a similar situation, when the CL Financial Empire almost collapsed. It was taxpayers’ money once again that was used to bail out that enterprise after the management followed the example of the Freddie Macs and the Fanny Maes.

The reason why the capitalist ideologues peddle the view that the state should not get involved in the management of business, stems from the fear, that when the state acts in that manner, particularly under pressure from the trade unions and the working class as a whole, it is doing so in contravention of its role, which is to act in the interest of the dominant class - the capitalist class. Sometimes the state responds by saying that it must take into account the interest of all the classes and acts in a manner which brings into balance the interest of all. What it does not say, is that it is the class struggle which forces the state to act under pressure taking into account the balance of class forces.                          

Now, what we must not lose sight of is the reality that under this system which we adopted under orders from Britain, there are two classes whose history is tied to slavery, indentureship and colonialism. That is, on the one hand, the former plantation owners and merchant class and on the other, the descendants of the former slaves and indentured immigrants. That has been the class composition of the society for quite some time, before other communities of wealth and economic and financial interest emerged in the society. As a result we can now hear of the Syrian and East Indian interest. 

This is because these communities, comprised of elements whose interest are opposed to those of the working class -which is made up of people of East Indian and African descent-  have succeeded in staking a claim on what they consider to be their share of the economic pie, without regard to the interest of the working class who are largely responsible for the wealth which they have been able to accumulate over the years.

So that when in 1970, the working people revolted, and forced the PNM government led by Dr. Eric Williams at the time, to nationalize 

companies in the energy sector and also demanded that he call on banks to employ people of African and East Indian descent.  The action of the masses, then, represented a declaration that they were staking a claim on their share of the economic pie. That is what the demand to nationalize represented.

Well, the slice of that pie since then has become larger to the extent, that those who are in control of the private sector believe that it is now time for the state to relinquish its responsibility to manage that sector. Subsequent to 1970, the undertaking was given by the Chambers administration, because of the promise made by Dr. Eric Williams in the declaration at Chaguaramas, that the government would, at the appropriate time, divest itself of the state enterprises.

It must be recalled, that Williams was forced to concede to the demands of the movement, because of the liberation and anti-colonial struggles raging at that time. And because he who was the author of Capitalism and Slavery, and a Historian at that, could not be heard to be opposed to nationalization at a time when the struggle raging in the former colonies was against colonialism.

That is why Dr. Darren Conrad must be made to understand that an attack on the state sector through the use of the weapon of privatisation is an attack on the patrimony of the people and that is why the working class must resist any attack on that patrimony.

                     

Comments