The Seminar about the Alternatives to the Neoliberal Forces 14.6.1997 PDF Tulosta Sähköposti

MEP Esko Seppänen Amsterdam 14.6.1997 

Today, in Europe the old capitalist economy governed by national states has been replaced by a new economic system. This new economic system is called global capitalism and in Europe the EU is its present being. Moreover, the EU can not be seen as a counter force for global capitalism. In fact, global capitalism does not have anywhere any kind of real counter force. This is due to the fact that there is no contemporary political system equivalent to the global capitalism. Capitalist societies are not identical, but organic systems very different from one another.

Antonio Gramsci wrote about "pessimism of reason and optimism of will". What he meant by this, is that one must have the will and the strength within the present structures, within the forces producing the present reality to act for a new progressive order.

We must know the present in order to be able to create counter forces for it. We must be able to identify our enemies: this is to say the logic of the state byrocracy and the logic of the interrelated free market mechanisms. Moreover, we must form a shared understanding about the metaphysics behind the global capitalism. Just like Marx analyzed capitalism of his time, for us this is the only way to fight against contemporary global capitalism. We must proceed the work Marx began with.

Our ideological enemies are capitalists, utilitarists and libertarists, who are using neoliberalism as their disguise. But, we should enter into alliance with liberal bourgeois and with priests, who teach us to love our neighbours and compatriots. Religious atheism is no longer the right method for us to break the power of the priesthood. Instead, the right method for us is to break the power of our real enemy; namely the power of the neoliberal priesthood. And when we are fighting over the content of human minds, we must first and foremost discourage the beliefs on utopias offered by our rivals in the name of democracy and freedom. We must tell to people ruled by the dictatorship of markets, that the freedom and the democracy are not real properties of heartless capitalism. Markets are a random process and they do not set freedom within their assumptions. Thus, we must uncover the idealism on which the neoliberalists are constructing the realm of false freedom. We must call into question their doctrine's rational ground .

Today, reason can not provide us with real alternative, but pessimism. Pessimism is at present the most dangerous characteristic of human mind. The combination of optimism of will and pessimism of reason defines the actual crisis of humanism, and its drifting into a defence position when facing market economy totalitarism. We must keep up at least with optimism of will. As a result, reason will emerge without will and will without sense. Will must be optimistic. But, reason must be neither optimistic nor pessimistic; but it must be critical. Our heritage from Mr. Marx is a critical reason, not a Marxist-Leninist reason.

The capitalist world without alternative means three things; that human being is only expected to maximize his or her own benefits; that nature can be freely treated as a utility product; and that markets should be neutralized and sacrified beyond the reach of politics. And eventhough, the political democracy could be seen as a presumption in the free markets, it is not a valid hypothesis in reality. Markets are in reality a random game, where the outcome is not known to anyone: in reality competetive markets converge always towards an unstable state. As a consequence, markets can not be understood as democracy. And so, even political democracy has lost its real meaning, if the social decision process allows markets to be considered as beyond the reach of democracy.

There has been and there is at present a lot of discussion about neoliberalism, which has been dug up from the grave of ideology based on negative freedom. They even say, that mankind has now strived its final goal and turned the social development into a perfect world; namely to the world of supranational markets.

Utilitarism is represented as a postmodern version of this old way of thinking where freedom is submitted to maximisation of welfare. First and foremost comes welfare, and only then freedom. And as far as the libertarists are concerned for them freedom comes first, and then welfare.

As far as the alternatives are concerned, after the experiments of socialism in the former Soviet-Union, the left wing can not start to construct an alternative for markets by basing it on physical exchange, barter trade or on clumsy planning.

Now that the left wing is not proposing any reguests concerning the return to regulated capital markets - this probably could only be possible in the national states - one can draw a conclusion, that at present the necessity of markets is confessed generally as social imperative. That is to say there is no way to set any functioning constrains for capital markets.

Global capitalism can not be governed from and be reversed to the history of Western ideas. Global capitalism has not been born in the stream of great ideas. Nevertheless, it has conquered every corner of the world and it is putting a heavy pressure on our minds. Global capitalism is a power executing the logic of capitals with the aid of the newest and highest technology.

There is no use to predict a destruction of capitalism. It has already been done too many times before with too flimsy arguments. To predict a destruction is far too easy, and besides by now one should have learnt that markets are flexible. This has been prerequisite for their self-survival. And so it is more likely that global capitalism can only be suffocated by its own bubble logic.

In the new supranational capitalism there is an important dimension in addition to the liberal capital markets; this is production sphere or production processes. The capital markets can not function without material production. And when in the production process nature is the one to be deplored, these markets are something more absolute than the money sphere on human minds and in memories of computers.

Then there is also a third sector to be added, namely services. The free trade of services is demanded by the World Trade Organisation. This supports the demands for privatisation of public services.

The logic of capitalism combines locality and globality; the trend to locate in one place and to delocalize in all places. When the capitals are conducted by the logic of highest returns, this means from the point of view of labour intensive industry that this logic can only be optimized in the countries with low labour costs; where labour force can be exploited efficiently without any social responsibilities or without any limits to nature's deploration. It is good to be reminded that this in fact was the way to act for the 19th century societies in Europe.

The so-called wage earner has another role to play in addition to his or her role as a producer, when he or she is at the same time a buyer of others working products; namely a consumer. The economics as it is a bourgeois science can not answer, how the markets can provide the purchasing power to consume all goods produced.

The moving forces in the rival between different logics are the logic of capitalism, the logic of integration and the logic of fighting over natural resources. People for status quo, the conservatives, are the ones to keep the logics unaltered. People for the change are the ones to have the logic changed. The left must be the one to change the logic and write the new methaphysics. If we lose in the fight over human minds, we will lose as well the fight over reality.

It can be argued that in the industrialized countries the big changes are born from outside the system. They are born as coming compulsions; for example in the form of natural catastrophes or destruction of environment. Or the system itself could be dis-turbed endogenously; for example by a stock market crash.

The left should have learnt from the experiences of our past generations that for us the right thing to do is to abandon at least in the developed countries the demands for a revolution. If the left does neither accept the global capitalist economic system nor adjust its political activity to the demands and imperatives presented by the markets, it must clarify its position regarding an alternative economic system and its relation with supranational capitalism. It has not come to my knowledge that there already exists any alternative system.

The social dimension of society is connected with the left; this is the idea of care and responsibility of our compatriots. Social is different from socialistic, and the latter cannot be induced from the former. But, when we think of alternatives one can not pass the socialism, eventhough it is not our present knowledge how to define it.

In the earlier days, socialism was always understood as commonly owned means of production. Why was this then? Because the production was considered becoming socialized, and this further lead to the understanding of production means as everybody's property.

Today, production is more socialized and globalized than ever, it is supra-nationalized. It is not possible to understand production means as belonging to all humans from all nations. And so it is obvious, that the rapid development of technology and of production has already succeeded the old definition of socialism. Such being the case, it would be wise to keep the old socialism in the leftist visions only as a matter of faith; almost like a religious thing.

If the socialism is defined in the old way denying the right for private property, one must ask, what actually is being forbidden. As it is impossible to forbid all private ownership, so the ones in favor of nationalizing must explain their aspirations. If one wants to forbid private ownership in banks, in insurance companies and in large-scale production, one must on that occasion also define, who will the new owners be and according to what logic the production will be governed.

The left stands on a solid ground when it comes to debating on moral grounds and ethics of capitalism. Does neosocialism need to be something else than moral ethos for what is right and against what is wrong?

The European left has to define its relation with the Union. As the economy is living its own life by globalizing and localizing, besides this the EU is living its own life by centralizing power and unionizing. This kind of EU is advancing values, that are controversial to all that the left has always before been demanding. The free movement and floating of capitals is accepted within the general agreements of the EU. The justice of the EU is governed by the capitalist logic. According to this the invisible hand is the system's dictator.

As the EU is the present being of capitalism in Europe, the Euro Social Democrates provide together with the right wing the political system needed for its existance. They want to enlarge the state governed collectivism and corporatism into a supranational political decision process. And besides, it seems to be the case that militarism is being attached to the European Social Democrates. With their support and sympathy the EU is increasing its own defence industry as well as imposing its own common defence policy. In this perspective defence can also be offensive.

The EU provides its citizens accustomed with thinking themselves as citizens of different national states feeling of being socially excluded. Particularly, many Union citizens feel that alienation gets worse as the eurocracy is heading towards federalization and supranational decision making that has nothing to do with real democracy. There is a danger that market rationalism and EU's unionizing will lead towards totalitarism.

Republicanism unites democrates and federalism unites byrocrates. Could there be any other counter force for global capitalism except republican national states?

The left must be international. But, the EU can not be a little sister for USA. The left is facing a challenge - almost an impossible task to fulfill - that is the unification of international and national solidarity.

In the European union A-citizens are those who have a permanent job within the A-countries of the central power. It is a permanent post that makes a person priviledged. The EU's inner core consists of countries from the German mark zone; that is to say the EMU-countries which are also NATO-countries. The representatives of the A-citizens determine what the common interest and the common will in the EU are.

B-citizens are those, whose countries still have a reasonable social security and a feeling of national togetherness. If the EU enlarges, the A-citizens of the new member states will reach at best only B-citizens level in the EU.

C-citizens are the 60 million poor, 18 million unemployed and 18 million homeless people living currently in the EU, as well as all those dependent on state and on income transfers. If the EU enlarges, most of the new job seekers in the new common labour market will be C- citizens.

The answer of the left is democracy. Neosocialism must be democracy on all levels. Ideologically it is first and foremost moral ethos for right and against wrong. In practice, it must be favoring the unemployed by a new distribution of work and shortening of working hours.