The nation’s robbers and hucksters

It is not foreigners, Muslims or immigrants who pose a threat to our national values. The threat comes from big capital and its parrots in government and parliament.

Not only do the governments of capital steal the treasures of the nation and the people, they also trade the loot if given the opportunity. For them the concept of “nation” is merely a tool for creating support for Norwegian imperialism and its pursuit of new profitable markets. But the interests and sentiments of the Norwegian people and the working class are contrary to those of the political and economic elite that play up to the popular masses while at the same time they plunder us to the bone.

“Don’t sell Norway”

The campaign “Don’t sell Norway” has become popular among ordinary people, and this is not just because the initiator is a celebrity from the public relations advertising industry.

“The people have not given you any authorization to sell the nation piecemeal”, Ingebrigt Steen Jensen said when he launched the campaign that adopted an old slogan from the EEC / EU battle in 1972. The message targets the incumbent right-wing government, but in reality it also rams its ‘red and green’ predecessors.*

* The coalition of the Labour party (Social Democrat), the Socialist Left Party (SV) and the Center Party (rural petty-bourgeois) held government office in the period 2005-2013.

The government, the employers’ association NHO [Federation of Norwegian Enterprises] and the media chatterboxes have by pure reflex launched fierce counterattacks and have tried to ridicule the campaign. However, having perceived the sentiments amongst the people, the government was impelled to make a temporary retreat concerning some of their most extreme sell-out and privatization schemes.

In the early 1970s, the slogan “Don’t sell Norway” was hotly debated when it was launched by sections of the movement of resistance against the EEC (now EU). It was introduced after heavy internal strife within the Labour Committee against the EEC and price rises (Akmed). This slogan unquestionably had nationalistic overtones in that it seemed that the main enemy was not our own anti-national bourgeoisie, but foreign monopoly capital. Thus it veiled the class struggle.

Actually, the slogan is far more suitable today than it was in the 1970s. Sell-offs of state forests, fishery commons, mineral resources, fragmentation and partial privatization of all forms of state infrastructure, commercialization of hospitals and healthcare and so forth was unimaginable in Norway in that period. The odd politicians who played with such ideas, such as Anders Lange and Carl I. Hagen*, were the extremists of the time, hardly taken seriously by the other right- wing brigands and reactionary elements.

* Carl I. Hagen was the founder of the ultra-right Progress Party, today one of the two coalition parties in the Cabinet that took office in 2013.

Sell-off of national values

Throughout the last 25 years, we have witnessed non-stop privatization and sale of national resources and companies. Usually it begins with the conversion of state companies into wholly state-owned corporations (with all the shares in the hands of the state), the next step is to leave them in the hands of private shareholders. Statoil, Telenor*, Statskog, Entra (state-owned real estate), Mesta (road construction and maintenance) and SAS (passenger airline) are some examples where further divestment of state shareholdings is now being prepared.

* Statoil and Telenor have become large transnationals in the petroleum and telecommunications sector.

Portions of the national postal service have been left open to private logistics firms, and more will come should the EU’s Third Postal Directive* be introduced. They agreed to pass on government interests in the aquaculture company Cermaq to a Japanese investor. The airport train is being put up for sale with a Chinese company as a possible buyer. They are attempting to replace municipal ports with private operators and ownership, as in Oslo. And so on and so forth.

* Norway is part of the European Eco* nomic Area (EEA) Agreement between EU and EFTA, which gives a formal right to reject individual directives coming from Brussels. The pro-EU leadership of the Labour Party has been forced by its own party membership to “veto” the Postal Services Directive.

In Norway as in Greece

This story could have been from Greece or Spain, where the EU, ECB and IMF have instructed governments to sell off state and municipal property en masse to pay creditors. But we are talking about Norway, a country that does not have the faintest need to strengthen already bulging government finances.

This is simply a case of capital requiring free elbow-room for their investments and acquisitions, where state borders and national interests are irrelevant obstacles that need to be swept aside. International capital has created a number of institutions and agreements intended to ensure that the peoples’ and nations’ interests are trumped by a “supra-national framework” of the likes of the WTO, EU, TISA, etc.

New robbery of the Commons

Early capitalism arose on the basis of robbery of common land. Peasants were shut out from what had been common pastures. This was the original primitive accumulation of private capital.

A new robbery of the commons is now taking place. This process has been most extreme and obvious in Africa and Eastern Europe after the Soviet Union dissolved, but it is going on in Western Europe and in Norway, too, a country where the capitalist state in no way can legitimize actions by a staggering national debt, budget deficits or threats of being downgraded on the international credit and bond markets.

The neoliberal looting expedition does not stop with industry, property and transport. The forests, fishery resources and mineral reserves are also being offered for sale to domestic and foreign private capital. In 2012 Chairman Bernt Stilluf Karlsen of the municipal Port of Oslo ensured, through his consulting company, that a Canadian mining corporation obtained exploration rights for 5% of Norway’s entire land area. He has of course also been pushing to build a new privately-owned port in Oslo. The incumbent government also wants a massive sell-off of the State Forests, which make up a fifth of Norway’s land area, of which a large part is Common area. A preliminary stop might be put to this plan, after the opposition Labour party found it opportune to oppose some of the privatization plans of the Conservative / Progress Party coalition. They probably hope that voters have forgotten that it was the Labour Party and Jens Stoltenberg* who sped up privatization of state-owned companies in the 1990s and 2000s.

* In October 2014, former Labour Party chairman Jens Stoltenberg was appointed Secretary General of the NATO alliance.

Welfare put up for sale

Even the general social welfare schemes are being expropriated by finance capital. The campaign “Don’t sell Norway” might well have included the dismantling and sale of social welfare institutions made by the people’s sweat and their tax money. Our pensions have already been sold in part to private insurance corporations. Researchers are amazed how the parliamentary parties in Norway managed to implement dramatic cuts in pensions with quite limited protest movements.

This year a new tax regulation for disability benefits has been put into force, which among other things means that these benefits will be taxed as ordinary income. This is yet another outright robbery of the 300,000 who have been tossed out of the labour market.

True enough, this on-going robbery is presently being conducted by the steel-blue [conservative] parties now in power, but the disability reform itself was adopted by the whole caboodle of parliamentary parties, including (the reformist left party) SV. The cutback reform was presented by the Stoltenberg government.

The nation’s fifth column

What does this record tell us? It shows that the greatest enemy of the Norwegian nation and our national values is the social class that holds the economic and political power, i.e. the network of shareholders, directors and politicians of all parties administering the system. Parliament might just as well be baptized the “Auction House”. The fact that the bourgeois class alternates between letting a Jens (Stoltenberg), an Erna (Solberg, Conservative Prime Minister) or a Siv (Jensen, leader of the ultra-right Progress Party) represent their interests, changes nothing.

Two hundred years ago the bourgeoisie, the impetus for the freedom and rights of the nation, was of a quite different kind. It needed to consolidate its domestic market and therefore wished to secure the national resources and defend the country’s sovereignty.

“Formerly, the bourgeoisie was regarded as the head of the nation; it upheld the rights and independence of the nation and placed them ‘above all else. ‘Now not a trace remains of the ‘national principle.’ Now the bourgeoisie sells the rights and independence of the nation for dollars. The banner of national independence and national sovereignty has been thrown overboard.” J.V. Stalin, Speech at the 19th Party Congress of the CPSU(b), 1952.

The Norwegian bourgeoisie of today is imperialist; it is the nation’s fifth column. This bourgeoisie sells the nation’s interests in exchange for dollars or euros, as Stalin precisely put it in 1952, if that provides greater profit opportunities and makes it easier to rob the people at home and abroad.

Abusing the flag

This class of parasites utilizes the nation, the flag and the national state solely in order to divert the class struggle and to sow chauvinism among the people. They abuse the flag to expand economically and by means of aggressive military adventures. They have long since leased out the country and people to NATO, and they are constantly aspiring to underwrite a contract with the EU to sell out our sovereignty, because this offers the prospect of even greater profits and further weakening of the working class. The EEA Agreement* was the first deal.

* The European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement is a treaty between the EU on the one hand and Norway and other EFTA-countries on the other, where the latter are included in the European Internal Market on certain conditions.

In order to preserve solidarity and the national values we wish to safeguard, the working people must take power from this gang of robbers and charlatans.

In the unlikely case that you, dear reader, are among those who believe that immigrants and Muslims are the ones who threaten Norwegian national values, you must remove your blindfold. The view that immigrants and other peoples are “undermining” the nation and national values, is a mirage intended to prevent people from seeing that within the Norwegian ruling class there is nothing left of “the national principle”. For them, the nation is only of interest as a springboard for marauding by Norwegian-based capital for markets and natural resources in other countries.

First published in Revolusjon No. 46, March 2015.

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