Socialist Worker and the banks

Submitted by AWL on 7 September, 2021 - 5:31 Author: Sacha Ismail
System change not climate change placard

The SWP's paper Socialist Worker has published a number of articles (rightly) praising Extinction Rebellion's recent focus on the City of London.

Socialist Worker says: "while the banks and investment companies keep the funds coming, the fossil fuel industries will keep digging, drilling and burning... That’s why breaking the cycle has to mean more than reforming banks, or choosing the 'good' ones. It has to strike at the profit system itself."

How do we strike at and defeat the profit system? By a socialist revolution? Yes! We need to convince many more people about socialism and what it will take to win it. But do we really have no demands and proposals to strike against the profit system on the way, and help move the struggle forward? Nothing more immediate to propose to climate activists and trade unionists who are not yet convinced about workers' revolution, or maybe even about comprehensively replacing capitalism, but want to fight capitalism at least?

Of course, SW calls for more and more militant working-class struggle as well as climate protests and so on. But effective class struggle needs clear and ambitious goals.

The crucial demand, in terms of ending the financial sector's funding of fossil fuels and redirecting its resources to tackle climate change, is reorganisation of the big banks and financial institutions under democratic public ownership. But Socialist Worker, like the union and Labour and Green leaders (though for different reasons), doesn't want to raise that demand.

In 2008 the SWP's slogan was "Don't bail out the bankers": so, rather than calling to take meaningful and democratic public control of the banks, we should have advocated letting the banking system collapse?

Today what we get from the SWP is a combination of revolutionary-sounding rhetoric with an immediate approach that is social democratic - and not even a radical version of social democracy.

• Reading and resources on taking the banks into public ownership here

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