Attac and the financial crisis: "And then comes the anger"
The disempowerment of the financial markets was one of the founding demands of Attac. Now the financial markets have collapsed and there is a real chance for a reorganization. But Attac remains relatively quiet. Stefanie Hellge asked Kerstin Sack, a member of the nationwide coordinating group, how Attac wants to use the crisis.
ChroniquesDuVasteMonde.com: Should not Attac be in high spirits in the face of the global financial crisis?
Kerstin Sack: We are not cynics. A crisis of this magnitude, which affects many people worldwide, is no cause for delight. But it is interesting to see how suddenly politicians, who until a few weeks ago still pursued the liberalization of the financial markets, talk as if they had joined Attac overnight. Attac has been advocating regulation and democratic control of the financial markets for ten years - for which we have always been derided by the neoliberal mainstream.
ChroniquesDuVasteMonde.com: One gets the impression that Attac reacts very slowly to the crisis she had warned about for years. Why is Attac still holding back?
Kerstin Sack: I do not think we are holding back. The focus of our activities is on the financial crisis. We have made several quite spectacular actions in recent weeks - for example the protest on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange last week. In addition, we are working on a broad social mobilization. But we can not do it alone. For this we need allies such as the trade unions, environmental organizations and church organizations we want to get on board. That's our turn First talks are on.
ChroniquesDuVasteMonde.com: What does that mean concretely? What could a broad social mobilization look like?
Kerstin Sack: At the moment, the events on the stock markets are still very abstract for many people. Those who did not buy certificates from Lehmann Brothers or work for an automotive supplier do not notice much in their own lives. But at the latest when people lose their jobs or are afraid of them, or when the money that the state spends to save the banks is suddenly missing for schools, universities, day-care centers and health care, the anger will come. I am convinced of that. Attac wants unions, unemployed initiatives, church and left groups and environmental groups to call together for demonstrations for a redistribution of money from top to bottom. The Hartz IV demos showed in 2004 that this is possible.
ChroniquesDuVasteMonde.com: In other words, Attac sees his task more in social protest than in the development of new global structures?
Kerstin Sack: Attac sees itself as part of the worldwide social movements. Roughly speaking, we want a world in which the economy serves people and not vice versa. But in order to implement alternatives, we need to work with other peers to put pressure on governments and corporations.
ChroniquesDuVasteMonde.com: Is there anything like Attac's "master plan" on how to respond to the global economic crisis?
Kerstin Sack: We do not have a master plan in the sense of a ready-made plan as to what the future world order should look like. But of course there are very specific things that need to be implemented now. We call for the immediate taxation of all financial transactions at European level to reduce speculation. We demand a financial market TÜV, which standardizes and checks new financial instruments before they can be traded. Hedge funds, special purpose entities and other unregulated financial actors are banned and tax havens are closed. Democratic control mechanisms must be imposed on banks and the public and cooperative banking system must be strengthened. And, of course, the costs of the crisis must be financed socially just. Figures should be those that have benefited from the deregulated financial markets over the past 30 years. That's why we demand a special tax on large fortunes.
ChroniquesDuVasteMonde.com: The same is true of the Left Party. How does your position differ?
Kerstin Sack: The Left Party has actually largely taken over our positions on the financial crisis. This was not the case at the beginning of the crisis, as the demands of the Left Party were much weaker. That she now carries our arguments into Parliament, we find good. But in other fields there are clear differences between us and the Left Party. We have a much clearer profile when it comes, for example, to global inequality and globally socially just climate protection. In doubt, the Left Party - like any other party - depends on voters in Germany.As an extra-parliamentary movement, we are much freer and can, for example, demand higher taxes for more development aid without upsetting voters.
ChroniquesDuVasteMonde.com: What chance do you see that actually changes in the context of the crisis?
Kerstin Sack: Now we have the historic opportunity to bury financial market capitalism. But this change does not come by itself. For even though politicians and managers have now eaten chalk and talk a lot about regulation: The current crisis management of the Federal Government aims primarily to make the financial markets fit again for the next round in the global financial casino. In order for this not to happen, we need the pressure from below, the broad social mobilization we spoke of earlier.
ChroniquesDuVasteMonde.com: And at international level?
Kerstin Sack: Take the example of Latin America, from which we could learn a great deal: There were several financial crises at the beginning of the new millennium, which in part led to a complete collapse of the economy. This resulted in very strong social movements. In Brazil, for example, there is a State Secretary for Solidarity Economy. It has the task of promoting projects, cooperatives or other forms of joint ventures - both financially and through training. There is now a whole Latin American network of companies and factories that are taken over and managed by the workforce. In addition, some Latin American countries no longer handle their business in US dollars, but as a barter. The first project of this kind was between Cuba and Venezuela. Cuba needed oil, Venezuela needed doctors and teachers for their social projects. For this type of business, there is now a private financial institution, the Bank of the South. Thus, these countries create their own structures, with which they are no longer dependent on the International Monetary Fund. This model could well provide food for thought worldwide.