by John Clarke
Global Research, December 8, 2008
Now that the crisis of the financial markets has become a crisis of the ‘real’ economy, it is obvious that those who already face poverty (or live on the edge of it) will be hit extraordinarily hard in the days ahead. Over the last three decades, social programs that served to partially redistribute wealth or limit the disciplinary power of unemployment on the working class were massively reduced. With this ‘social safety net’ seriously compromised, we can expect a rapid and deep process of impoverishment to take effect as the downturn unfolds. The scale and severity of this will pose major challenges but open up huge possibilities in terms of mobilizing poor communities.
In the last weeks since the crisis came to head on Wall Street and scandalous bailouts for the rich ensued, a question has been lurking in the background: who will pay for this crisis of capitalism? That the capitalists and bankers do not intend to pay is more than obvious. That workers and the poor face massive austerity is also very clear. However, in order for this to happen, those in power are going to have to impose their harsh ‘solutions’ and that will produce suffering and an anger that forms the basis for fighting back. I would like to look at how poor communities may be attacked and at some of the forms that resistance could take. I speak from the standpoint of someone who is active in anti poverty struggles in Toronto. In some smaller and more heavily industrialized cities, the situation is already further advanced but we may expect a deepening downturn to affect Toronto very seriously. In many smaller centres, systems of social provision are even more inadequate than in Toronto and many people facing conditions of poverty and destitution will be forced to head for the major centre out of necessity.