The absurdity of Miliband’s ‘one nation banking’ under capitalism


LABOUR leader Miliband has once again revealed the absolute bankruptcy of reformism. In a speech made yesterday he denied that there were laws governing the capitalist crisis, and put the greatest-ever crisis of the capitalist system down to bad behaviour, urging that the crisis could be resolved by ‘responsible capitalism’ and ‘one nation banking’.

He in fact indicted himself and Brown and Blair who presided over the period, thirteen years in all, when British capitalism and its banks were at their most irresponsible, as Miliband would have it. This was when Brown sold off a huge chunk of the gold reserves for euros and dollars, while boasting that he had resolved the crisis of capitalism through a regime of unlimited credit. Blair supplemented this approach with his worship of the rich and his determination to emulate them.

Miliband has now put on the hairshirt and admitted to ‘bad behaviour’. His thinking is once again utterly superficial. What is behind it is his fear that if the worst excesses of finance capital are not pruned it will lead to a mutiny of the oppressed who will treat the bankers and bosses, and of course capitalism, in the same way that the French masses treated the Bourbons. To use a modern term, they will be subjected to a ‘haircut’.

He told his audience: ‘This is about more than one man, one bonus, or one knighthood. These are symbols – and symptoms – of public discontent with a system that is not working as it should.’

Fearful Ed pleaded: ‘Nobody in this country – neither the banks’ most staunch defenders nor their most outspoken critics – believe that a public argument between executives, shareholders, politicians and the public is the best way for any sector to set pay.’

The dirty deals must be done in private – not in front of the public – is the theme of the Labour leader, as he added: ‘It is in all our interests to find a better way forward…We need to learn the most important lesson of the week: we cannot have a banking sector so divorced from the rest of the economy and the rest of society. We succeed or fail together.’

He added: ‘We need what you might call “one nation banking”. We need banks that serve the real economy. We need banking serving every region, every sector, every business, every family in this country. And we need banks run in a way that people believe are consistent with their values – the values of Britain.’

Miliband wants an Alice in Wonderland-type of banking, that has never existed anywhere. But he has to admit to the advance of revolution. ‘Everywhere you look, pillars of the conventional wisdom which have stood solidly for thirty-odd years are crashing to the ground.

‘Until 2007, (when his political bosses Blair and Brown were caught out – News Line) it was hard to imagine that: light touch financial regulation would be so thoroughly discredited; financial instruments designed to make each bank safer would make the banking system as a whole riskier; we would be facing interest rates lower than we have seen for decades without lending rising as a result; bank bonuses could be in the billions even as banks’ share price fell; all the banks in this country would be backed by an implicit government guarantee; and two of the biggest would be largely owned by the government.

‘We all know this has happened because something has gone deeply wrong.’

Far from things going ‘deeply wrong’ – as Marx proved in his volumes of Capital – the laws governing the capitalist system produce such crises as part of its development, and that crises cannot be regulated out of the system – they are intrinsic to it and can only be eliminated through a socialist revolution.

The reality is that banks will only act for the nation after a socialist revolution has nationalised them and put them under workers’ management where they will play a progressive role as an institution of the workers’ state, developing a socialist economy planned to satisfy the needs of the people.

The maxim of such a society will be: from each according to their ability, to each according to their need. This will be a truly fair and responsible society.