Capitalists will try every trick to derail a Labour government. Sarah Bates argues it will take mass resistance and strong counter-measures to give them a run for their money
Part 3 - Unelected
But the bosses that threaten capital flight are unelected and unaccountable—and their interests do not line up with the interest of the majority of people. And bankers aren’t the only ones who feel threatened by a Corbyn victory. Shortly after Corbyn was elected Labour leader, a serving British army general Corbyn could face “mutiny and mass resignations”.
Corbyn’s calls for nationalisation are widely supported. But the rich who sit on the boards of energy firms and rail companies will not be happy about any attempts to undermine their profit.
Agencies can downgrade countries’ credit ratings, which influences how much the government can borrow. And bodies such as the IMF can attack and even ruin governments if they don’t like their programme.
The Syriza party in Greece was elected on a wave of anger against austerity in 2015. But in the first three days after its election, investors pulled their money out of Greek banks, slashing 40 percent of their value. Syriza focused on seemingly clever manoeuvres at the negotiating table with its creditors, the IMF and European Union. It didn’t mobilise working class support on the streets and workplaces—and ended up implementing worse austerity than its Tory predecessors. Syriza is just one example of why it will take a much larger challenge to the system to beat back the bosses’ attacks.
This isn’t just about rich individuals pushing their own agendas—it’s about the immense power of the ruling class. Wealth is concentrated in the hands of a small number of people. Just eight men have as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population. This power of the bosses has become a catch all excuse for those who don’t fight for real change.
But opportunities do exist for the left. Because workers create profit, they have power to take them on the bosses. Capitalism brings together workers in large workplaces, which gives us an opportunity to fight collectively.
Millions of people have had their sights raised by the movement around Corbyn. Demands that were previously seen as too radical and unachievable, such as a £10 an hour minimum wage, are popular with millions of people.
But now the pressure is on Labour to moderate its programme and make comprises with the bosses. Corbyn said he wanted to reassure investors that they would find a friendly market if Labour won the next election. McDonnell has tried to appeal to business, saying, “They don’t like our tax plan, but they like our investment plan”. His plea that he is “thinking about business” is not an answer.
One obvious counter-measure is for Labour to say it will take back control of setting interest rates from the Bank of England. The movement cannot exist just within the confines of electoral politics. And the experience of Syriza, the Wilson government and others show that it is not enough to get elected on a left wing programme.
To fundamentally break the stranglehold of the bosses’ whims workers need to exercise their power. Syriza could have nationalised the banks under democratic workers’ control and imposed capital controls to stop money leaving the country.
If bosses try to strangle a left wing government through an “investment strike”, workers will have to strike to hit their profits.
To make sure there’s a movement capable of resisting bosses’ attacks, we have to support every working class struggle now. Revolutionary socialists should support Corbyn when he takes on the establishment. Building a movement can bolster Corbyn—and help prevent him from moving to the right under bosses’ pressure.
And that movement can go much further and take on the influence of the unelected bosses and bankers. Its strength will be decisive in the battles to come.