[OPE] João Pedro Stedile, The Crisis Will Be Profound and Prolonged. . .

From: Gerald Levy <jerry_levy@verizon.net>
Date: Sat Mar 14 2009 - 07:19:21 EDT

Amazingly, Stedile (from the MST in Brazil) claims "There are all sorts of
positions and
ideological currents. But they all connverge on this diagnosis: it is a
profound crisis,
WORSE THAN THE CRISIS ON 1929" (emphasis added, JL). Yes, most positions
have come to the conclusion that the crisis is 'profound', but ... worse
than the crisis of 1929???
At a minimum, this is a gross miss-reading of what other positions are
saying. Those who
believe that the current crisis is worse than the crash of 1929 are a
small - but assertive and
shreiking - minority.

How bad will the current crisis get and how long will it last? Well, THE
that nobody really knows.

In solidarity, Jerry

The Crisis Will Be Profound and Prolonged. . .
by João Pedro Stedile
It's been several months since the crisis of capitalism was unleashed on the
international level, with its epicenter in financial capital and the US
economy. Now we have more evidence that this crisis will be profound and
prolonged, affecting all the peripheral economies -- including Brazil.
Many analyses of the crisis have been published in academia and the media.
There are all sorts of positions and ideological currents. But they all
converge on this diagnosis: it is a profound crisis, worse than the crisis
of 1929. It will affect the entire world economy, which has been
increasingly internationalized and controlled by fewer than 500 companies.
It will be worse, because it combines an economic crisis, a financial crisis
(of the credibility of currencies), an environmental crisis, an ideological
crisis due to the failure of neoliberalism, and a political crisis due to
the lack of alternatives on the part of the dominant class at the center of
capitalism or the governments of the periphery.
In the history of crises of capitalism, the dominant classes, owners of
capital, and their governments have adopted the same prescription to exit
First, they need to destroy a part of (over-accumulated) capital (lacking
demand) to make room for another process of accumulation. In recent months,
over 4 trillion dollars in paper money have gone up in smoke.
Second, they call for wars. War is a way of destroying goods (weapons,
munitions, materials, facilities) and getting rid of the social tension of
workers. And it does so in such a way as to also eliminate the industrial
reserve army. Thence the First and Second World Wars, and then the Cold
War. Now, given the fear of atomic bombs, they stir up regional conflicts
instead. The attacks on the Palestinian people by Israel, the provocations
in India, and the threats against Iran all fit in this strategy as well.
The strategy is to increase military spending and destroy goods.
Third, magnify the exploitation of workers. That is to say, in crises,
lower the average wages, and bring down the living standards and thus the
costs of the reproduction of the labor force, in order to restore the rates
of surplus value and restart accumulation. Hence also the expansion of
unemployment, which keeps multitudes surviving only on the basic baskets of
goods, etc.
Fourth, a greater transfer of capital from the periphery to the center of
the system. This is accomplished by the direct transfer from enterprises in
the periphery to their headquarters, as well as through the manipulation of
the dollar exchange rate, the payment of interests, and the manipulation of
prices of goods sold and bought in the periphery.
Fifth, capital goes back to using the state as the manager of the savings of
the population to shift these funds for the benefit of capital. For this
purpose, capitalists again valorize the state, not as the caretaker of the
interests of society, but as the steward of their interests, to use its
compulsory powers and thus collect money from everyone, through taxes as
well as savings deposited in the banks, in order to finance their way out of
the crisis.
We are witnessing the application of these classic measures, reported in the
press every day -- here in Brazil, in the center of capitalism, and in the
rest of the world.
But, as with everything in life, there are always contradictions. For each
action of capital, the government, etc., there will be its contradiction,
which society and workers can recognize and exploit to change the situation.
The historic periods of crises are also periods of change. For better or
worse, there will be changes! Crises create openings and rearrange the
positioning of classes in society. In Brazil, we are still apathetic,
amorphous, listless, watching the description of symptoms of the approaching
crisis on television. There was hardly any reaction or feedback from nearly
800,000 workers who lost their jobs just in December 2008. Nor are there
comments on the IPEA research showing that, of the 17 million poor families
in Brazil in the general register of beneficiaries of government programs,
79% of them are unemployed! For they received some benefits, they are not
seeking more jobs, and they are left out of even the statistics of
It is vital for the organized sectors of society -- in all existing forms,
whether in churches, trade unions, schools, colleges, universities, the
press, social movements, or parties -- to do something about the crisis.
The first thing to do is to debate the nature of the crisis and find ways
out of the crisis, from the point of view of workers and the majority of
society. It is urgent to encourage all manner of discussions in all arenas.
Paraná Educational TV's initiative to promote this kind of public debate is
welcome. But it is still insufficient. The crisis will be long and deep.
We need to involve the largest possible number of militants, politically
conscious men and women, to discuss the situation, so we can collectively
build popular alternatives. Without mobilization and social struggles,
there will be no way out for the people -- except for capital.

João Pedro Stedile is a member of the national coordination of the MST and
Via Campesina. The original article "A crise será profunda e prolongada. .
." appeared in the February 2009 issue of Caros Amigos, republished by the
Agencia Latinoamericana de Información on 16 February 2009. Translation by
Yoshie Furuhashi.

URL: http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/stedile130309.html


ope mailing list
Received on Sat Mar 14 07:24:43 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Mar 31 2009 - 00:00:03 EDT