A Letter from Joe Johnson
A number of people write and ask me theoretical Marxist questions, for example, I am asked, “Why is the Euro falling?” and “What does that mean?” My answer is quite different than what the Wall Street Journal says and also different from what various socialist groups say.
I think the Euro is falling because the European Union is coming apart, self-destructing. There are many reasons that contribute to the falling of the European money, but it is basically the failure of the European Union itself.
Before World War I, there was discussion among both capitalists and socialists of forming a United States of Europe. The value of this was acknowledged by everyone. There was a difference in both capitalist thought and socialist on if this could be done.
World War I came and showed there was no United States of Europe. The Second World War came and there was no United States of Europe. However, after there was a repair of the destruction of World War II, there was the development of the European Union and then, a few years ago, the development of a common currency of the European Union. The Euro was, if I remember correctly, 85 cents to the dollar at its birth. Then it steadily increased in strength to $1.36 to the dollar. It was considered to be a strong currency reflecting a strong European Union.
In my opinion, capitalism is not able to develop a United States of Europe! It is, and was, back before World War I, too degenerate, too sickly, too close to death to develop a new advanced capitalist nation out of itself. This means that the capitalists cannot bail out Greece, Spain, Portugal, etc. (all of Southern Europe) with their own money. They must take the saved funds of their workers. They must increase taxation on their workers, and they must drastically reduce the living standards of their workers. This is not something they have a choice in—it is life or death for them—and now.
Capitalism at all times has a drive to lower wages. The class struggle is always with us. However, now, in this situation, they must get the money and it must be done immediately. This makes today different than ten years ago. The class struggle is at its boiling point.
The capitalists must call on their political parties, because now the struggle becomes a political struggle of power both in terms of military power and control of hearts and minds through political parties. It becomes a relationship of physical and psychological power of the workers versus the capitalists. The capitalists call on their servants in the military and in their political parties (no matter the names of these political parties—Democratic, Democratic Socialists, Socialist, Communist, etc.). The question becomes the relationship of forces, who is stronger, the workers or the bosses? The workers are, as Marxists know, much stronger. But they are only strong when they use their strength.
We have an additional complexity, as Lenin pointed out, imperialism. Capitalism is more and more developing a stronger and stronger financial sector—“the banks are taking over.” So the Euro’s decline takes the form of a financial crisis, not a production crisis. The bankers want their money and the armed men of the state must get it for them, for they have no army of their own. Germany, the productive center of Europe, must bail out the banks of Greece—a contradiction within a contradiction. The German people or the German capitalists can’t do it, however.
It took sizable U.S. money for the first trillion-dollar bailout and it will take much more. Politically and militarily it will take help from the U.S. However, the U.S. is stretched thin both in extra money and in military forces.
We the working class and the oppressed of the world can win!
With Warm Comradely Greetings,
Joe Johnson, Chippewa Falls, WI