(The problem is the System.)
On a placard hung in the middle of a Madrid intersection, the youth of the Spanish city in May 2011 hoisted up the above revolutionary slogan. By this one placard, they showed themselves to be clearer than most of the political parties in Europe and well in advance of them by their thinking. All around these young activists and elsewhere throughout the world, political parties from left, right and centre, and their respective leaderships, have failed to point out this obvious truth. The fundamental problem is not with the quality or lack of it, of the political superstructure and the rotating elites managing it, but with the whole system itself. It is a system which is in deep-seated crisis in the economic, financial, social, ecological and political spheres of life. Everywhere the system is in an advanced condition of excessive resource depletion, along with extreme social and ecological decomposition. It is not simply a case of the system contracting a mild and temporary infection. Yet the established parties and political groups of all shades, including many ‘socialists‘, have all failed to register publicly anything other than an urgent necessity to change the personnel of the ‘doctors’ in government and attempt to nurse the ‘system’ back to health. The stark reality visible all around us, is that the system is currently on a massive financial life-support regime. It is on a course of emergency economic therapy which requires increasing amounts of liquid transfusions into its decaying corpse. The transfusions of liquidity, in the form of money, are being obtained by the IMF and other ‘financially induced’ prescriptions‘, by draining the necessary life-sustaining resources out of the mass of the population in Europe and the rest of the world. This is being done by means of increased prices and reductions in wages, salaries and public services.
Even left trade unions only seem to be able to campaign for a defence of wages, jobs and services, with little or no mention or warning to their members that the system is in terminal decay and actually needs replacing, not resuscitating. It is as if many of them believe the system will soon recover and be in a healthy enough condition to deliver these requirements. In fact at this moment the system is fighting for its very life. The systems supporters, in positions of power and in charge of the life-support regime know this, and are prepared to bleed ordinary people to the maximum. Using all the repressive organs of the state, they intend to drain resources out of working people, no matter how many fail to survive the ‘prescribed cuts‘, in an effort to put off the final day. They have proved over many years of the systems progressive decline into terminal sickness, that they are not prepared to listen to those whom suffer under its rule or to begin to act in their interests. They will keep the system on life-support as long as possible in the hope it recovers sufficiently to keep themselves in power and wealth. Meanwhile the ‘system’ continues daily to infect the healthy tissues of the planet, by pollution, ecological destruction, nuclear proliferation, wars, financial instability and widespread poverty. We cannot expect those who benefit from the present system to inform or warn people of what is fully at stake. So whose job is it? Instead of only making reformist demands on a system in such a catatonic state, shouldn’t we on the left be arguing for the creation of an alternative system and looking forward to seeing the back of this one? As anti-capitalists, shouldn’t we be saying publicly and loudly; if the system cannot provide (and sustain) a decent standard of living for all inhabitants of the planet, then we must change the system? Shouldn’t the slogans ‘fight the cuts’ always be alongside, such slogans as ‘the system is to blame’ and ‘lets change the system’ or ‘fight the system’?
To put it another way. When a capitalist business has squandered its income on extravagant expenditure and undertaken risky and expensive adventures, borrowed more than it should and can no longer afford its interest repayments, then bankruptcy is the only logical outcome. Bankruptcy is declared, the enterprise is buried and the creditors get as little as is left over at the winding up. Isn’t this exactly what has happened in all the countries of the world? Haven’t the elite’s run our countries like a business system, instead of a society? Haven’t they spent more than their tax income on advanced military weapons and other extravagant items, including their own life-styles? Surely it is true that they have undertaken risky and expensive invasions and wars, borrowed more than they should and daily inform us they can no longer afford the interest payments. When the international credit agencies mark down countries credit rating as ‘junk‘ is this not an accurate assessment of the ’system’ and not a reflection of the working population? In fact, considered from this perspective the present capitalist system is bankrupt and should be wound up, not repeatedly bailed out as most ordinary people already think about the banks. Like other bankrupts, those previously in charge should also be held accountable. I suggest this is what we should be arguing for, calling for and working for. Everywhere the real problem is the system. For the most part, the rest are just symptoms. The only realistic solution is the systems replacement not its resuscitation as the reformists mistakenly suggest. To the slogan ‘El Problema esta el Systema’ raised by the youth of the Arab world and Spain, we should consistently add in various languages, ‘El solucion esta el Nuevo-systema‘ – the solution is a new-system.