Herring and Class Struggle

Capitalism came late to Iceland. At the end of the 19th century this large, wind-swept, thinly populated island was made up of small towns, farms and seasonal fishing stations. Then European capitalists saw another Klondike in the herring-rich waters of the north Atlantic..

Thursday 27 September 2012

Cod in the North Sea - swimming against the stream

The Icelandic prime minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir has tried very hard to get Iceland into the European union. Well Jóhanna has announced her retirement and the EU hasn't got any more stable since the beginning of the financial crisis. Here's a piece from this weeks Socialist Worker newspaper in Britain about overfishing and the disappearing cod. It finishes with this thought about the EU and it's planning,

'The EU’s quota system is sometimes presented as an alternative to the unrestrained competition of the market. In fact it institutionalises competition.
Individual states lobby for their own fishing industries and against others. For example, this summer British fisheries minister Richard Benyon met with other European fisheries ministers. He argued that Cornish fishing workers should get a larger share of the quota than Spanish ones.
As well as sowing nationalist division, the system creates enormous waste. One of the biggest problems is the fish that are caught but then thrown away to comply with quotas.
Fish of different species often swim together—and are caught in the same nets. Every year half the fish caught are thrown back into the North Sea.
The EU announced a plan to phase in bans on these “discards” by 2018. Celebrity cod-botherer Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall called it a “massive breakthrough”.
But the ban won’t make the problem go away. As long as there are quotas, the waste will continue. The solution is not EU bureaucracy, but a democratically planned economy.'

A democratically planned economy is a deeply unfashionable idea amongst the ruling class for the obvious reason that if we had real democracy we'd have no ruling class. For more on a democratically planned economy see John Molyneux's Future Socialist Society and an interview with Alex Callinicos posted in Capital and Class

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