Whose cash is it anyway? Finance and the left

Poor black people can’t pay their mortgages and supercapitalism collapses. It’s then bailed out (secretly in the UK) to the tune of $5,000 billion worldwide. It’s worth remembering the bailout every time we ask for money to be spent feeding, housing and educating people.

But what is more significant than even the monstrous bailout figure is that, at a time when the left can’t muster a coherent sentence politically, the working class has unprecedented economic power. The power, its been proved, to wreak havoc on global capitalism.

In today’s economy the real money is made speculating and, though statistics in finance are more impressionist than realist, the derivatives market alone is worth 12 times the planet’s GDP. The profits on offer are astronomic and the politics of making it are less about good bets than they are about mobilising people’s money.

Speculation is a simple game of inflation. Get people to invest in the same area and the price rises, this attracts more investment, and the price rises even more. What do credit rating agencies, the financial press and complex mathematical models do if not coordinate investment?

The sharp end of the political economy is about how you get people to invest. Power comes from finding streams of payments (mortgages, mobile phone contracts, student loans, insurance, pensions, pay-monthly deals at DFS etc), which can be securitised, leveraged and sold.

The left has to realise its power in this process, working people are not simply passive, powerless victims of loan sharks. The working class constitutes high finance.

Like in the 18th century, when the left realised its power in the production line and formed unions that secured higher pay, democracy and the NHS, it must realise its power in the financial marketplace.

Progressive voices spend all their time trying to mobilise the political power that will change the ravages of the marketplace, but this rarely happens. Rather the opposite is true, the left gains political leverage when it first mobilises power in the marketplace.

The era of strong unions, mobilising their power in the marketplace, was the era of social democratic governments. Without organising in the marketplace the left will never gain power in the political arena.

Savings unions, local bonds, local currencies and credit unions are all good starting points. Which reminds me, I must sort out a smile account.

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2 thoughts on “Whose cash is it anyway? Finance and the left

  1. Yo folks, take a look at this article in the Guardian from today – http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/dec/14/new-economics-foundation-social-value – my initial reaction being WOW, YOU DON’T SAY????!!!

    So whose cash is it indeed? It’s interesting how commonsensical it seems to translate social value directly into monetary figures. Is this right…? It makes for a very clean argument, that’s for sure.

    And what do you know about the guys behind the report? They sound great! Are they? (As far as suggesting they promote ‘real economic well-being’, does that sound a leetle beet vacuous or am I just feeling incredibly cynical?) Take a look at: http://www.neweconomics.org/ Their origins sound credible: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Other_Economic_Summit

  2. I was labelled ‘the left’ today. It was by a woman who objected to a hyphen being used between Israel and Palestine for the following reason:

    “On the contrary, hyphenating Israel-Palestine is politically un-diverse and sends a bias from the extreme left in my opinion. Geographically speaking, we are all in Asia, however borders define how a nation sees itself politically. If you really want to be accurate, you should be referring to the Palestinian Authority, as the modern state of Palestine has yet to take its complete form. I know for a fact that I made aliyah to Israel, and that’s what my passport shows.

    Regardless of what one thinks about Israel and how she conducts herself politically, militarily, one can still acknowledge that it is a viable, legitimate state.”

    Since I’ve been coming round to the idea of Thatcher (as a creator of wealth through house privatisations rather than as a bedfellow) I was a little surprised by being categorised in this way.

    However, my point I imagine is that this lady is correct in so far as the term ‘the Left’ seems to be used to as a catch-all for those who aim at a more human politics and those who understand markets as inhumane simultaneously.

    What Sahil’s article does is highlight alternative means of enhancing social power from marginilised groups in an age where capitalist society’s structure has evolved. I say forget left and right. Instead seek areas of subversion.

    So sahil – why don’t you invent another term that ‘the left’. I like your ideas very much but I’m horrifically right wing in my social appetites and my highly individualistic outlook on life. Help me out here mate – I need a haven for my identity and ‘the left’ just ain’t it.

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