September 4, 2013

The Finance-Dominated Regime of Accumulation and the Crisis in Europe

Alex Demirović and Thomas Sablowski

There is no consensus among the ruling classes on the correct way to deal with the current crisis or, more broadly, how to continue with the project of European integration. Should the euro be defended, or would it be better to split up the eurozone or give up the euro completely? Will austerity policies help us overcome the crisis, or would a more Keynesian policy of investment be more appropriate? Would it be better to return to the nation state and its competencies, or move towards deeper European integration? Should debtor countries such as Greece or Cyprus be rescued, or would it be better to have an option for the insolvency of states?

The Left cannot remain indifferent to this situation. Until now the Left has maintained a (quite unsuccessful) defensive position based around the slogan: “We won’t pay for your crisis.” Many analyses have provided good and quite technical advice on how the crisis might be brought under control. However, it is not likely that the ruling classes will listen, and even if they did it is not clear whether it would actually bring the crisis under control. This leads us to the question of the emancipatory aspects of the crisis, for crises always open up new possibilities. Currently this emancipatory potential has been relegated to the background, largely because solutions to the crisis tend to provide momentum for nationalist divisions.

Left-wing analyses have also portrayed the problem as one between Germany and Greece; or rather between France and Germany, etc. Merkel’s government appears as a taskmaster forcing austerity policies on other European states. Furthermore, the Left also finds it hard to convey its criticism of European crisis policies in the light of Germany’s relatively stable economic and political situation.

In this text, Alex Demirović and Thomas Sablowski from RLS Berlin analyze the current constellation through the lens of the finance-dominated regime of accumulation. The contradictions that emerge are specific to the regime and reproduce themselves at ever-higher levels, principally because the regime itself is not called into question. This in turn further embeds the crisis in social relations. It is against this background that the two authors incisively assess the policies and politics developed by the Left and social movement groups to fight and work to resolve the deepening crisis of Europe.