The Paradise Papers revelations show that neither a Labour government in the UK, nor any other national government can match up to the power wielded through the global network of dark pools of private investments that fuel the transnational corporate web.
These are among the many forces that will be certain to challenge and undermine a government led by Jeremy Corbyn just as the business lobby is coalescing to force current Tory chancellor Hammond to bend to its will in preparing his budget.
Expressing shock and concern about the revelations, as Labour did this week, misses the point.
How can we help to ensure that a future popularly-elected government is more than just a minor irritant to the corporations who switch funds around the world to wherever conditions are most favourable for them?
The Paradise Papers, leaked to and studied by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and shared with 95 media organisations worldwide, follow on from the earlier Panama Papers.
Together they shed light on the murky world of offshore tax-free ‘trusts’, derivatives and swaps that shield the affairs of the wealthy from public view. And not just the wealthy individuals which – horror upon horror – include the Queen of England!
The system is used extensively by the big name global corporations including Nike and Apple as they move their capital around the word to maximise their profits, exploiting national differences and havens like the Cayman |Islands.
They (or their accountants) will not be all that concerned at the list of measures in Labour’s ‘declaration of war’ issued in the wake of the Panama leak.
Calls for a higher standard of ethical behaviour, for the super-rich to modify their behaviour will cut no ice with the masters of the capitalist universe or their servants.
The whole point of capital is to maximise profits at whatever cost to people or the planet – as is shown in the sickening sideshow of Gertler, Glencore and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Appeals to the May government or to the EU to act in the causes of equality or of ‘transparency’, or to global agencies like the IMF and World Bank which are the creatures of capital will fall on deaf ears.
Whatever the size of its popular majority, dark global forces will combine to prevent a Corbyn-led government from carrying out its mandate.
The global reach of research needed to trawl through millions of documents and the scale of the collaboration provide a good model for the new kind of organisation needed to envisage and bring into existence a social, economic and political system serving the needs of people and respecting all life-forms on the planet.
Creating new democratic forms in the UK with a perspective of uniting people across the world against global capitalist forces, replacing them with a new commons is, in my view, the only realistic and practical way to defend a future Corbyn-led government.