Alessio Rastani’s Extrordinary Candor

Mark Vorpahl

Though it is likely that some of our readers are already familiar with the following video, since it has gone viral, it merits comment. The BBC interview with financial trader Alessio Rastani on the Eurozone rescue plan reveals far more than an “expert’s opinion” on this one topic alone. Unrestrained by any concern for dressing up his attitude in publicly acceptable garb, Mr Rastani’s comments give us a glimpse into the conversations and attitude of the small but powerful circle he inhabits. It is as though we are accidentally overhearing a conversation normally hidden from our observation, though its possible outcomes leave millions of lives hanging in balance.

Mr. Rastani predicts a coming financial meltdown that would strip millions of their savings. While the merits of this opinion can be debated, what shocks is his confession, “I dream of another moment like this.” “Anybody can make money. Its an opportunity.” Not only has the pursuit for more profit blinded the likes of Mr. Rastani from any sense of compassion, it has also removed any sense of social responsibility for the crisis their actions have created. If it weren’t for the unrestrained greed of a tiny few that capitalism relentlessly encourages, millions would not be suffering from joblessness, a decline in their living conditions, and attacks on their social safety net. Mr. Rastini and his class are far removed and sheltered from the misery they have helped create. They resemble bomber pilots congratulating themselves for their hits miles above the villages they have burned to the ground. In this case it is working people, the vast majority of humanity, who occupy these villages.
Some have responded to this video by calling Mr. Rastani a psychopath. This entirely misses the point. We live under an economic and political system that richly rewards such antisocial behavior. Mr. Rastani suggests why when he crudely observes, “Governments don’t rule the world. Goldman Sachs rules the world.” While it would be more accurate to say that governments act as the executive bodies of big business, Mr. Rastani is essentially correct. It is the interests of big business that run the world, and consequently there can be little surprise that half the world’s population is mired in poverty, and are becoming poorer by the day. The sole preoccupation of big business is to make more profit. Increasing profit comes from increasing the exploitation of workers. What benefits capitalists like Mr. Rastani, hurts workers. Because of this dynamic, inequalities in wealth have been on the rise. But working people can only be pushed so far until they say, “Enough is enough,” and take a stand. And we are beginning to witness all around the world, determined workers organizing massive demonstrations to put a stop to the rule of the rich. The Occupy Wall Street movement in this country could be the first step of a massive fightback as more and more unions join the demonstration.
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Mark Vorpahl is a unionist and anti-war activist and writer for Workers Action. He may be reached at portland@workerscompass.org