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Being anti-capitalist is only a start

As the leaders of the world’s richest countries start gathering in London for Thursday’s G20 summit, a picture can convey more than words about what confronts Obama, Brown et al. The latest cover of Time magazine just about sums up the desperate nature of the global economic crisis. It depicts a small boat with six people desperately rowing to prevent it falling off the edge of a massive waterfall. The headline is: “All together now (please?)”

Whatever efforts are made at the G20, it’s apparent that even if the participants agree on stricter regulation of the global financial system, the proverbial cat is out of the bag. In fact, those taking part have already said as much. The German chancellor Angela Merkel spoiled the party on Saturday when she said that no deal would be reached and that the summit “will naturally not solve the economic crisis either”.

Gordon Brown hopes that “this crisis can be dealt with by us acting internationally” and by the assertion of “sounder principles”. Only in his dreams. The notion that those overseeing the global economy can and will redress “global imbalances” is clearly cloud-cuckoo land. In reality, the world economy is on a knife-edge. Financier George Soros, the sage and self-appointed Cassandra of financial capital has warned that if the G20 does not insulate developing countries “against a calamity that is not of their making” the world will slide into slump. Soros does not appear over-confident about the outcome.

Put People First march London

The most significant question is not “imbalances” between the richer and the developing countries, but the nature of capitalist production and ownership itself. The relentless drive for profit through unsustainable growth is at the root of the current crisis. Obviously, the G20 capitalist club is not in a position to address this issue! As A World to Win said in the flyer we distributed at Saturday’s “Put People First” march in London:

Those who created the crisis are part of the problem, not the solution. The global crisis is a great opportunity to make a dramatic change and create for the first time a society where the majority actually come first over the narrow interests of profit. Ordinary people should plan for a future based on co-operation not competition, co-ownership and not private ownership, and for meeting social need not the demands of bankers and shareholders.

Put People First march London Put People First march London

The mass support for the protest march, organised by the Trades Union Congress and supported by a host of other organisations, which was joined by workers from across Europe, was significant despite the futile appeals to the G20 leaders put forward by march organisers. The response – estimated at around 35,000 even by the police which means it was far higher – shows that people are willing to take to the streets to defend their living standards.

In Germany tens of thousands marched in Frankfurt and Berlin. It was, as comedian Mark Thomas also noted, the first time that people have had a chance to come out on the streets in a big way. Thomas called for it to be “the start of a grassroots movement”.

Put People First march London
Put People First march London

The key issue is where that movement should go? This is the question that must be raised at the camps and actions organised by ecological and direct action groups in the City and at alternative summits organised by students this week. Brown is right about one thing – the crisis is forcing change. That change has to be on terms that benefit society and the planet as a whole, however. Our Charter for Democratic Rights suggests how we can achieve the revolutionary transformation required. Sign it, spread the word, and join A World to Win in its aim of going beyond anti-capitalist propaganda to creating a practical alternative.

Corinna Lotz
AWTW secretary
30 March 2009

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