It might be time to reconsider Marxism
When Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou announced he would put the European Union bailout to a referendum, I was stunned and I applauded his astonishing decision.
For a moment, I had hope that a government would finally defend the rights of its citizens to have a direct say in their country’s policies. However, under pressure from the European Union (EU) and other organizations, Papandreou and all Greek citizens are crushed under the wheels of capitalism — the most pervasive and powerful ideology in the world.
Now I know that Wilfrid Laurier University is largely a business school and most business students will likely say, “Marxism is dead, onward with capitalism!” This may be somewhat facetious, however, the fact remains that most people are too quick to write off Marxism.
According to Laurier political science professor Thomas Hueglin, there is a specific reason for this. In discussing this topic with The Cord, he stated “[Karl Marx] has been ridiculed for his prediction of a proletarian revolution because he did not foresee the rise of the middle class as a capitalist stabilizer.”
Papandreou’s initial suggestion of a referendum is the perfect situation with which to frame the current relevance of Marxism. In recent years, Greece has been overspending and now has a rather large amount of debt. As part of the EU, they are to be bailed out. However, as part of this bailout, there would be massive cuts to every social program.
These cuts to social programs would have a detrimental impact on the lower classes and it speaks to the inequality this policy “solution” will create. Again, Hueglin asserted, “Greek protesters have clearly understood that the proposed bailout will mainly benefit the rich at the expense of the poor.”
Prime Minister Papandreou’s initial support of a referendum was a major step forward in a democratic process. The citizens of Greece should be given the choice of whether or not they agree to the EU bailout and the subsequent cuts.
It is a rare situation when a western country’s government actually takes a stand against the capitalist machine. The fact the Papandreou attempted to do this speaks volumes about his government and their support for the working class.
Unfortunately, but arguably without choice, the Greek prime minister was forced to withdraw his proposal for a referendum. The threat by opposition, his own party member and EU leaders made Papandreou virtually powerless.
While many readers may think that this is a good thing, that’s an arguably capitalist and self-interested take on the situation.
The announcement of the referendum caused turmoil on the world markets. As such, it is a general assumption that the referendum would have an overall negative impact. This, however, is not true. The bailout would have the truly negative impact, affecting more people over a longer period. The Greek citizens are the 99 per cent; they will all suffer, while the elites feel no impact.
“In light of the dramatically widening gap between rich and poor it is perhaps time to take Marx’s prediction more seriously again,” remarked Hueglin.
There was some hope for democracy in Greece, but capitalism marches on, continuing to crush the 99 per cent. It is time to reconsider our economic system as the current one obviously has it flaws and will not work indefinitely into the future.
For years, capitalism has been accepted without question. But now, with Greece’s economic woes and the global financial downturn, it is becoming apparent that capitalism has failed. While many will argue this point, the system is crumbling slowly and it is only a matter of time before it topples.