Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Bankruptcy of Chrysler

This is an immensely historic event.

After 80 years of making cars and sitting as a cornerstone of American capitalism, Chrysler is closing its plants until August when it will announce its restructuring vision. What will emerge from this cocoon will be a pathetic ghost of what had been one of the great engines that not only produced cars, it produced a way of life. It was a driving force demanding massive quantities of raw materials to be shipped into its plants. It resulted in not only Chrysler workers demanding goods and services, it also allowed workers in factories that produce paint, glass, rubber, and wheel bearings to spend money. And so were the millions of workers that worked at providing goods and services to those workers. The car manufacturers in America have been the main engines of American and Canadian prosperity.

That is because capital is created in the process of turning raw material into buyable stuff. It is the workers that create the money the owners accumulate. The term 'car manufacturers' may be thought of as the investors but in reality, they are the men and women that manufacture cars.

Enduring Neo Liberalism

Neo Liberal policies are something we have been enduring for decades and it will itself endure for some time to come. It is far from dead as current attitudes about the economy show. Don't be hoodwinked into believing that America has gone socialist because they are bailing out large capitalists or promoting union stakes in failing companies. Nothing could be further from the truth. Obama is showing and will continue to show himself to be as married to neo-liberal voodoo economics as his disastrous predecessor. He is a slave to late monopoly capitalism, as was his predecessor. Obama's faith in reliance on the ultra wealthy that are somehow 'too big to fall' will endure.

Capital is a strange ethereal beast and has some dangerous characteristics that must be heeded. Especially now. As a result capitalists themselves must assume similar characteristics. He is slave to capital. He must abandon notions of patriotism and any concern for the economic health of the nation. He must turn away from his human impulse to care about human beings. He must care only about capital and its enhancement. It is more than just software. It is a virus. And that virus will seek out wealth where-ever it is found like a vulture ripping away at a diminishing corpse. It will take it from workers wages and pensions. It will take it from your pockets.

The very ideology that has brought America to the abyss remains unshaken. The underlying assumption is that wealth emanates, somehow, from the rich and 'trickles down' to the rest of us. That is why trillions are handed to the ultra wealthy in bailouts and workers wages and benefits are ravaged and others are left to the unemployment lines. This is in complete contradiction to the socialist view that wealth begins where work occurs and finds its way, rather quickly, to the owners.

Obama said that Chrysler will emerge stronger and more competitive. We have heard for years that with globalization we must become 'more competitive'. Pick this notion apart for a few moments and consider what that really means. It is a continuation of the race to the bottom that American and Canadian workers appear to be winning.

What has caused the crisis is being touted as the way to fix the crisis. This faulty logic is based in capitalists board rooms and with people that know better. They know exactly what they are doing. They are turning America into an economic wasteland in favour of new and more fertile markets.

The Great Sell Out

Chrysler's valuable assets will be sold to private scavengers and the liabilities will be handed to the taxpayer. In this equation we have winners and losers. The wealthy are always the winners and the middle class are always the losers.

The standard of living for Americans and Canadians has been sliding for decades now. Monopoly capitalism takes no prisoners. It is software that is programmed to increase profit and it will do whatever is necessary to that end. It has to pick the meat off the bones of the American and Canadian middle classes and that process has been ratcheted up in a big way during this economic crisis.

This 'restructuring' is a euphemism for a sell out. The workers of North America have been sold out by those they have seen as their bread and butter. The capitalists that are running the show today are different than capitalists that operated in the past. In the quaint past they had direct involvement in the company. Today, under mature monopoly capitalism where shares can be traded in a split second, they are more akin to gamblers in a casino. They don't care about making cars and they don't care about the plight of the nation. Capital accumulation is all that matters and if they could do it without manufacturing anything, that would be best for them. They are programmed software - a virus far more pernicious than Osama bin Laden or terrorism.

Now that Chrysler in sinking, it seems that it is suddenly a good idea for the workers (the UAW) to take some ownership of this sinking ship. What nobody is talking about is the possibility that this is an 'easing in' process to the bitter end of Chrysler. Consumers are not going to flock into Chrysler dealerships to help the company out. Consumers too are a virus and are not idealists. Consumers buy into deals and they buy products that they have faith in. The plants will close and we will wait until August when this depression is even more protracted, and Chrysler will make an announcement with little fanfare or attention. They will announce what we all expect.

Fight Back

What is most important now is that workers wages and benefits are increased. Not only with Chrysler but across the board. More wages means more demand for goods and services. As Henry Ford observed, the workers need to be paid enough to buy cars.

To get America and the rest of the world on track, it is vital that workers do what they had done in the early and middle part of the last century - and more. The situation now is more dire. Workers must fight back and take control. The means of production are shutting down and they are shutting down because capitalism is not working. It is work and it is workers that create wealth. It is in the hands of the working class to rebuild and re-tool without the benefit of being told what to do. And when we do get back on track, it will be a completely different track on a new trajectory. A trajectory to stability, peace and equality.

When and how we fight back is up to us. Obama isn't going to lead us and neither will the scam artists we have become conditioned to have faith in. Obama and the scam artists will tell you there are only two choices. We either must rely on the greedy impulses of the financial elites or we face totalitarianism.

It is up to us to forge a third way. We will soon have no choice.

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