ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: DSK prend la porte à droite
by Patrick Appel-Muller
Translated Tuesday 1 June 2010, by Henry Crapoand reviewed by
’T was the kiss of death. The French minister for the budget yesterday applauded a statement by IMF’s managing director Dominique Strauss Kahn (also known as DSK in France) in support of increasing the retirement age: “If one lives to be a hundred,” DSK exclaimed, “one can’t be still allowed to retire at sixty!” François Baroin was only too pleased to denounce “the big lies“ of those that defend the right to retire at 60 – a historic breakthrough for workers– and declared its supporters to be “so irresponsible that they are not even worthy of being permitted to govern as a political party.” He then practically proposed a toast in DSK’s honour, saying: “I think all those that hear us tonight will now say: that Strauss-Kahn is a clever fellow!”
That DSK should spark such enthusiasm in one who has just crossed over to join Nicolas Sarkozy’s political body guard should alert those who, on the Left, fondle the dream of this socialist leader being his party’s next presidential candidate. In contrast, President Sarkozy must congratulate himself on supporting DSK’s candidacy to the post of managing director of one of the world’s main international institutions.
Since he has taken the post DSK has proved very wise indeed to those who consider financial markets to be the world’s most efficient driving forces. At the apex of the financial crisis he demanded that public funds should massively be offered to float the banks, shore up rotten assets, and provide flows of vital liquidities. Once national budgets had turned private debts into public deficits, the IMF turned to the peoples and enjoined them to foot the bills run up by stock exchanges and big share-holders. As Bertolt Brecht in his own way suggested in his Three Penny Opera , thieves are better off to become bankers than to rob banks.
For all his assumed good-natured air and his professed fear of “ambitious projects that are not credible”, Dominique Strass Kahn is none the less one of the great guns who authorized the blood-letting inflicted on Greece and the European austerity plans. Black-suited IMF men landed in Athens as they did in Bucharest, Vilnius, as they had in Buenos Aires before, to slash services, social budgets, wages and pensions. Wherever the IMF passes, financial markets shoot up and economies bleed to death. How many countries have been laid low by their recipes? The international financial institutions always proclaim the most virtuous intentions – but what have been the effects of their leaders’ regulatory prescriptions? Their criteria are so profitable to free markets that they disseminate extreme poverty and unemployment wherever they are imposed. But that leaves DSK unruffled: “the crisis is an evil that will bring some good.” He must have been thinking of what lies ahead for Greek public workers, or Spanish pensioners, and the Portuguese jobless. Wasn’t yesterday Obesity Day worldwide, and isn’t a diet the best cure?
At a time when emerging countries are challenging the way the IMF is run, and the cry is increasingly for the use of credit in the service of growth and human development, the IMF’s managing director is content with sailing with the current of capitalist globalization and preaching against social benefits as substantial as the right to retire at sixty. How sad that he has chosen the door on the right.