If you self identify as left wing or ‘progressive’ then its likely you have protested against the inequities and ideological lies of austerity – I have both online and on the streets. My Facebook stream is awash with outrage that arrives every other minute – all perfectly understandable and just.
But there is a problem here… this obsession with austerity risks blinding the left to other equally important and related issues, indeed we aid tory propaganda if we limit ourselves in this way. Let me explain.
That austerity doesn’t work is obvious – it’s a disaster in Greece and all over Europe – its also been a disaster in the UK.
That austerity punishes the poor, the disabled, the sick and the unemployed all in the name of reducing debts is also obvious. The blogosphere and social media are ablaze with examples of innocent people suffering and dying as a result of austerity.
That austerity actually increases public debt is not so widely understood but many heterodox economists (rightly) point out the disparity between the narratives of the corporate media and the reality of debt ridden Britain.
Austerity is morally wrong, logically absurd and globally discredited as an economic approach – even the IMF who have preached the gospel of ‘structural adjustment’ around the world have now abandoned it
So here is a question:
Q: With so little going for it - and with so many voices of protest raised up in arms against it – why do the tories and the corporate media love to talk about and enact austerity?
A: Austerity is not a rational economic tool – it never was and its architects know that, its purpose is primarily public relations.
The success of austerity as a propaganda tactic has allowed George Osborne to run up more debt in five years than Labour did in thirteen and still be seen as a financial pragmatist.
The primary success of Austerity has been to distract us from topics we should have been protesting about since 2007/8 - namely the banking and monetary system.
I understand that banking is boring.
A terminal cancer patient being hounded by the DWP is emotive but our corrupt monetary system is the cancer of our entire society.
The left must demand monetary reform or lack credibility when proffering solutions for social justice and sustainable living. The tories will always crow triumphantly “we can’t afford it!” whenever socially just alternatives to their sociopathy are offered and under the current system that is an easy case to make.
The solution the left needs to embrace is to change the monetary system itself – and THAT is something the tories and the financial elites do NOT want discussed.
By ‘monetary system’ I DO NOT MEAN PUBLIC SPENDING.
Public spending did not cause the crash of 2007/ 8 – that was caused by mortgage debt issued recklessly by private banks.
Monetary reform addresses the reality that over 97% of our means of exchange is not cash issued by the royal mint but actually digital credit issued when private banks make loans.
If you are care about social justice, the environment, inequality, democracy and your future prosperity then you need to learn how global modern banking ‘works’ and how it enslaves the majority and enriches a tiny elite.
Happily the wonderful folks over at Positive Money have done all this work for you so get over there now and start reading.
The point I want to make in this article is that however righteous and necessary our protests against tory austerity are – we are actually helping the tories if we allow that to be our sole focus.
There was a lot of public interest in and outrage towards the banking system back in 2008 but that has mostly faded – the promised enquiries were whitewashes and austerity has worked wonderfully as tool of mass distraction.
The bankers complete with obscene bonuses, grotesque public subsidies and socially harmful lending are back to business-as-usual.
Our current banking system systemically drives inequality, pumps up the housing bubbles, deprives sustainable business of investment and is inherently unstable.
The next banking crash is on the way - private debt including mortgages and credit cards is back to 2007/8 levels and beyond - we now collectively owe a staggering £1.436 trillion of private debt.
The left needs to put the banking system right up alongside austerity as a key focal point of protest BEFORE the next banking crash, not afterwards.
Monetary reform will afford the left more options, more credibility and can form part of a renaissance of political thought and action. The tories and the corporate media have gone to extraordinary lengths to distract you from discussing it - so go and learn about it – and make your banking reform protests every bit as loud as those against austerity.
The tories, the right wing press and their oligarch supporters have been clever and disciplined in their deployment of austerity as a tool of distraction – now activists and right thinking people everwhere must be equally clever and disciplined in not allowing them to get away with it.
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