At the Progressive International’s launch summit, Yanis Varoufakis insists we must mobilize solidarity across borders to challenge corporate foul play.
Speaking today (Friday) at the launch summit of Progressive International (PI), the global network that unites movements, parties and people in shared political action, former Greek finance minister, member of the Hellenic parliament and member of PI’s council, Yanis Varoufakis will call on the world’s progressives to identify “multinational companies that abuse workers locally” and target them globally.
Progressive International, Varoufakis will insist, must mobilize solidarity across borders to challenge corporate foul play. He will use the example of Amazon worker Chris Smalls, who organized a walkout from the Staten Island, New York, facility in protest at working conditions during the pandemic. Smalls was sacked by the trillion dollar corporation. Varoufakis will suggest that in the future, PI could organize global solidarity actions against multinational corporations, like Amazon, when they victimize workers.
Elsewhere in his wide ranging speech, the former Greek finance minister will set out a possible common political program to unite the world’s progressive movements and parties. He will take up the idea of the Green New Deal as a vital and necessary set of reforms amounting to a $8 trillion annual global intervention to stave off the worst of the climate crisis, including: transnational bonds, revenue-neutral carbon taxes, global minimum corporation tax rates, an Organisation for Emergency Environmental Cooperation to develop new green technologies and an International Monetary Clearing House.
Varoufakis will also lay out an even more ambitious and wide-ranging prospectus for the future, drawing on his new book Another Now. This vision of a high tech-enabled post-capitalist future includes: worker-owned democratic enterprises, the end of the stock market, a universal annual dividend alongside trust funds for all and a radical overhaul of the tax system to focus on carbon and land.
Calling on progressives to act globally against multinationals who victimize workers, Yanis Varoufakis is expected to say:
Do you remember Chris Smalls, the Amazon employee who dared organize a walkout from the company’s Staten Island facility in protest at working conditions during the pandemic? He shot momentarily to fame when it was revealed that, having fired him, Amazon’s ultra-rich and uber-powerful directors spent a long teleconference planning his character assassination to undermine his cause. Even though a considerable number of public figures spoke out in Chris’s defense, the furore had no effect. Amazon emerged from the 2020 lockdown richer, stronger and more influential than ever. As for Chris, once his five minutes of fame faded, he remained fired and vilified.
What would it take for the PI to make a difference and to defend Chris in a way that angry letters to the NYT did not? Suppose the PI were active then and we could call upon people far and wide to participate in global trades union Days of Action at the local level, aimed at the company and its affiliates.
Then we could combine these Days of Action with Global Days of Inaction — a particular day when we just do not even visit Amazon’s website in support of workers like Chris Smalls. Not visiting a website for a day costs people — even heavy Amazon users — next to nothing but can translate into large costs for corporations like Amazon.
This could be a start: identifying multinational companies that abuse workers locally and targeting them globally, utilizing the great disparity between the cost to participants and the costs of the targeted firms.
On plans for a global Green New Deal, Yanis Varoufakis is expected to say:
The $8 trillion we need annually will have to be financed both from public and private sources. Public finance, just like in the original New Deal, must involve transnational bond instruments and revenue-neutral carbon taxes — so that the money raised from taxing diesel can be returned to the poorest of citizens relying on diesel cars, in order to strengthen them generally and also allow them to buy an electric car.
Meanwhile, tax evasion will only be dealt a major blow if we introduce a global minimum effective corporate-tax rate on multinational corporations of, say, 25 percent, that is then redistributed on the basis of a simple formula taking into account the geographical distribution of sales.
To plough these resources into green investments, we could propose a new Organisation for Emergency Environmental Cooperation, or OEEC — the namesake of the original OEEC which, 75 years ago, administered the works funded by the Marshall Plan in Europe. One main difference from the 1950s is that today’s task is not simply to rebuild but to develop new zero-emissions technologies. No country alone can fund the requisite research and development. The OEEC would, thus, pool the brainpower of the international scientific community into something like a Green Manhattan Project — only one that aims, instead of mass murder, at ending extinction.
Even more ambitiously, the PI can propose an International Monetary Clearing Union, of the type John Maynard Keynes suggested during the Bretton Woods conference in 1944, including well-designed restrictions on capital movements. By rebalancing wages, trade and finance at a planetary scale, both involuntary migration and involuntary unemployment will recede, thus ending the moral panic over the human right to move freely about the planet.
On a post-capitalist vision, Yanis Varoufakis is expected to say:
Can an advanced economy function without labor markets? Of course it can. Consider the principle of one-employee-one-share-one-vote. Amending corporate law so as to turn every employee into an equal (though not equally remunerated) partner, via granting them a non-tradeable one-person-one-share-one-vote, is as unimaginably radical today as universal suffrage used to be in the 19th century.
By granting employee-partners the right to vote in the corporation’s general assemblies, an idea proposed by the early anarcho-syndicalists, the distinction between wages and profits is terminated and democracy, at last, enters the workplace — with the new digital collaborative tools standing by to remove all inefficiencies that would otherwise hamper the prospects of a democratically-run corpo-syndicalist firm. Besides the democratization of firms, it would bring the demise of share markets and terminate the need for gargantuan debt to fund mergers and acquisitions.
Already, some central banks are thinking of providing every adult with a free bank account. If this goes ahead in a society without share markets, why would you want an account with a private bank? Once debt leverage linked to share markets and personal banking disappear, so does commercial banking. Goldman Sachs and the like become extinct — without even the need to ban them.
What if we were to take this idea further, proposing that the Central Bank also credits each such account with a fixed monthly stipend (a universal basic dividend). As everyone would use their central bank account to make domestic payments, most of the money minted by the central bank will be transferred within its ledger. Additionally, the central bank can grant all new-borns a trust fund, to be used when they grow up.
Thus, persons would receive two types of income: the dividends credited into their central bank account and earnings from working in a corpo-syndicalist company. Neither need be taxed — the end of income and sales taxes (VAT). Instead, three types of taxes fund this type of government: A five percent tax on the raw revenues of the corpo-syndicalist firms. A carbon tax. And proceeds from leasing land (which belongs in its entirety to the community) for private, time-limited, use.
Varoufakis will deliver his speech at 10:00 EST, 14:00 UTC, 1930 IST, Friday 18 September 2020. To register to view the speech and the rest of the day’s programming, please click here.
Source URL — https://roarmag.org/2020/09/18/varoufakis-calls-for-global-action-against-abusive-multinationals/