“Facing the world economic crisis: From Greece to Australia” was the title of a public forum, sponsored by Socialist Alliance, Resistance and Green Left Weekly on May 25.
Marxist academic Gary MacLennan and Socialist Alliance candidate for the federal seat of Brisbane Ewan Saunders spoke.
MacLennan explained that the world economic crisis showed signs of deepening, not ending. He said right-wing explanations of the crisis blamed government mismanagement, rather than the capitalist system.
Left-liberal explanations viewed the cause of the crisis as being insufficient government regulation.
“The capitalist class is beyond greedy”, MacLennan said. Ruling-class solutions to the crisis now focus on shifting the problem from the private sector to the public domain, he said, transferring private debt to sovereign or public debt.
He said the Greek working class was showing the way fighting back against imposition of the debt on the public, rather than the banks and other capitalists who caused the crisis.
“We face not a temporary, but a systemic, crisis of capitalism”, he said. “The crisis will deepen, not diminish. In the end, there is only one solution in the interests of working people: revolution. We have to learn again how to fight on a class scale.
"Greece shows the way for Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy. I am confident that at a point in the future, revolution will break out through a crack in the system.”
Saunders took up the economic problems of Australia, and the response of the federal Labor government. He outlined the measures proposed in the recent federal budget, the current hot issue of a tax on mining “super-profits”, and the need for socialist solutions.
“Treasurer Wayne Swan's budget was projected as 'no frills’, and for working people it certainly was”, Saunders said. “Real spending growth was capped at 2%, as promised by Labor, as it struggles to pay back last year's stimulus spending to bring the budget back into surplus.
“The result is an ongoing failure to make funds available for badly needed social and environmental projects.
“Military spending was increased, particularly to boost Australia's imperialist adventures in Afghanistan, East Timor and the Solomon Islands.”
Saunders said that the need to raise additional revenue had resulted in the current battle between the big mining companies and the government over the Resource Super Profits Tax.
But, “with or without the tax, the mining industry in Australia is extremely profitable".
“State ownership would give government all the profits — not just 40% above a certain level”, he said. “If the private owners of big companies resist or sabotage this change, government should be willing to step in and takeover.”
Saunders concluded with ideas about socialist solutions to the present crisis, in both the economic and ecological sphere.