I left this comment on the article by Professor of Economics at Trinity College John O’Hagan in today’s Irish Times, titled ‘Cyprus bailout drama underlines need for global economic co-operation’.
A question: who agrees and enforces the rules of engagement mentioned by the author?
If the political process in achieving such rules of engagement is 'tortuous and complicated', it isn't simply on account of the number of players involved, but, as the writer puts it, the fact that certain 'players' are subject to the 'diktats of the anonymous international financial marketplace', and the fact that other players are the influential names behind that anonymous marketplace: CEOs and major shareholders of big banks, for example.
The writer states that full democratic legitimacy and speedy resolution of the financial crisis are mutually exclusive. I agree. For one, most of the 'players' involved have no democratic legitimacy, and the range of remedial actions that they will agree upon are anti-democratic: the stripping away of welfare states, the privatisation of public assets, 'labour market reform', which is to say, the stripping away of labour rights, and so on. The reason for this is that the crisis will, all other things being equal, that is, in the absence of democratic mobilisation, be resolved in the interests of the financial dictatorship that the writer does us all a service by naming. The resolution to the crisis, from the point of view of the 'players', is about saving capitalism, not human lives.
Hence, what is coming to the fore here is the fundamental contradiction between capitalism and democracy. As the writer notes, the market has stupendous coercive power, over nation states and over human beings. Today, it is this coercive power that shapes agreements between nation states, agreements in which the democratic advances of the past century are being attacked. And it is the people conducting the negotiations, and those who define the boundaries of what is acceptable -the 'players'- who stand to benefit most from these agreements, having consigned social and economic rights of working people to the trash can of history, under the dictatorship of the financial bourgeoisie.
Where political representatives exercising state power are not already the sworn ideological defenders of the market, they can be easily bought off by the prospect of succulent advisory positions once their political tenure has ended. In light of this, it is the broad mass of people under attack –from Ireland to Spain to Greece to Cyprus- who need to co-operate across borders.