LALIT has just completed a series of five fortnightly Study Group sessions on the reign of “Finance Capital” and its political implications. Each session had a different speaker from amongst Study Group members, for a one-hour talk, followed by an hour’s plenary discussion. There were between 15 and 20 LALIT branch members present each time.
The first two sessions, led by Lindsey Collen and Shabeela Kalla, respectively, outlined the rise to power 100 years ago of Finance Capital. This coming to power of Finance Capital in Europe and the US over industrial capital that had ruled for the previous 100 years, had been outlined brilliantly at the time by Lenin in his booklet on “Imperialism”, which the Study Group read as background work, in Kreol translation. The early part of the 20th Century saw the further rise all over Europe and in the USA of finance capital alongside the rise of fascist ideology, culminating in the coming to power of fascism in three European countries. Against this trend, the Russian Revolution, together with generalized revolutionary movements during the first 2/3 of the 20th Century, at the same time curbed the power of Finance Capital, especially after 1945, until the 1980s.
The next two sessions, led by Ram Seegobin and Rajni Lallah, respectively were on present-day Finance Capital. Ram Seegobin outlined the political project of the Atlantic Charter (Churchill-Roosevelt) and then Reagan-Thatcher’s political project based on the Friedman-Hayek economic project, that had been tested by the military dictatorship in Chili, and that, through the political means of the “Washington consensus” (IMF and World Bank) was imposed world-wide. Rajni Lallah then outlined the 2008 near collapse of world Finance Capital, and the political movements that this gave birth to world-wide. Background reading was Walden Bello’s analysis written in the heat of the crisis of finance capital (also in Kreol translation).
The final session, led by Fiona Auckbear, was on Mauritian Finance Capital, from the birth of the MCB until the plethora of banking institutions of today. Emphasis was on the power of financial institutions not only over the entire working population, but also over other sectors of capitalists. In Mauritius, the agricultural and commercial sectors were in power until displaced by the finance and real estate interests. There is today a tendency for Mauritian Finance Capital to go into joint ventures and invest abroad, where wages are lower, just as was happening in the time Lenin described. The off-shore sector, its relationship with the rest of finance capital and the double-tax-avoidance treaties that are so rightly under threat, was also discussed in this final study group session. The systemic crisis with the end of protected markets, especially for sugar, will be joined by a financial crisis. There is clearly a crisis in the making, with banks having invested heavily in hotels and construction projects which are not materializing fast enough for debt-recovery.