Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Meeting Report

Last night we held a public meeting with a representative of the Tax Justice Network, John Christensen, on the topic of Globalization, which way forward : World Socialism or Tax Reform.

John put forward a persuasive case for the ill effects of global capitalist finance -especially in terms of the vast, well co-ordinated networks fo corruption that are necessarilly involved. He told us how dictator General Abacha of Nigeria had been squirrelling away $15 million a a day to Swiss bank accounts by standing order - a feat that could not have been achieved without the connivance of Western bankers, accountants and lawyers. He estimated that some hundreds of billions of pounds a year were being withehld by corporate tax avoidance; that British dependencies and terrirtories accounted for around half the world's 72 recognised tax havens; and that debt releief is off-beam because so many of the ruling classes in poor countries are making a fat living for themselves from their national debts.

It was a concise, well-argued and powerful case. Our speaker, Adam Buick, though put the socialist case, that there is a class issue. The burden of taxation falls ultimately on the owners of property, not the workers they stole that wealth from in the first place. Capitalism cannot be made to work in the interest of the plundered, and that John's arguments just showed how irredeemable the capitalist system is. Any tax regime would just be a matter of changing the balance of competition between capitalists, not removing the inherent corruption of the system.

I was mugginsed into the chair, and had to keep order in the lively debate that followed, where we explored what possibilities socialism might provide and in which John defended his preference for attempting to reform capitalism in the short-term. At the end, I reminded everyone that we were contesting Vauxhall constituency, and that this was not an abstract debate but a pressing immediate choice for the electors of Vauxhall.

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