When Marx referred to capitalism as theft he carefully explained the complex process by which the capitalist class extract profit from surplus value; that is, from the value created by workers over and above that which is used to pay wages.
Recently we have seen a number of ways in which capitalism has extracted more and more surplus value. Wage increases are kept below the rate of inflation. Workers made redundant are looked after by the contributions of other workers. Public assets created and owned by workers are sold off.
But Europe’s banks have found a simpler twist to ‘capitalism is theft’. As they pile one austerity measure on another they have realised that the best way to get their money is to simply take it directly out of the bank accounts of workers – in this case the workers of Cyprus.
For the past two decades real wages have been static for most workers in much of Europe, and almost all the economic growth has been extracted by the capitalist class. But we now have zero growth and the opportunities for plunder are less obvious so other measures are being used. We have watched capitalism use austerity to lay waste to the economy of Greece and threaten Spain with destruction.
But this is not enough and never will be – the blatant theft of money from workers is a natural step. If we think this is just a small problem on a small Mediterranean island, we should think again; our savings are no safer, and our pensions are ripe for further plunder.