#oxi2015 5 hypotheses arising from the struggle in Greece

oxi image

OXI! Fantastic! But what now? As always we must start from the position that it is impossible to really know from afar what is going on – especially on the ground where it really matters. It is ridonculous to give advice [edit: sectarian comment removed] . Kevin Ovenden’s journalism both at Left Flank and on Facebook has been invaluable. He is our John Reed. Still we are compelled to try to think on the run and to try to work out what this moment is teaching us about our world so we can improve our efforts to transform it. So here are some hypotheses arising from my observations at a distance of the struggle in Greece. They are for discussion and debate. Continue reading “#oxi2015 5 hypotheses arising from the struggle in Greece”

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Is the G20 the Austerity Summit? No actually…..

austerity

Is the G20 the Austerity Summit? No actually…..

Recently the following press release was put out by the BrisCAN (BrisCAN being one of the spaces organising against the G20). This press release framed the problems of the G20 as follows:

“G20 is austerity summit” claims protest organiser

BrisCAN spokesperson, Adrian Skerritt said: “The G20 meeting will disrupt the lives of Brisbane residents from November 8 to November 16. But it won’t end there. G20 policies will continue to disrupt our lives long after the meeting is over.”

The G20 forum is committed to shifting wealth from the majority of citizens to the incredibly rich. They will do globally what Newman and Abbott are doing locally – sell public assets, outsource and cuts to social services.”

“The G20 is the Austerity Summit” claimed Mr Skerritt.

“What they can’t achieve through their budgets and trade deals they will attempt to resolve through war. Look at Obama and Abbott’s new war in Iraq and Putin’s use of military force in the Ukraine.”

The rally and march on November 15 will condemn G20 policies that create poverty and inequality. The march will also champion the values that should drive economic and political decisions – justice, sustainability, indigenous sovereignty and democracy.

“BrisCAN is demanding a world with an economy that works for people and the planet, a world safe from the ravages of climate change and war, a world with good jobs, clean air and water and healthy communities” said Mr Skerritt.

The rally will assemble at 11am November 15 2014 at Emma Miller Place (Roma St) and subsequently march past the G20 summit to Musgrave Park.

What’s wrong with this? Two problems:

  1. Austerity is no longer the central plank of the strategy of multilateral organisations like the G20.
  2. It is wrong to conceive of the G20 as some nefarious exterior force set to fuck up our lives. Rather the G20 attempts to coordinate capital accumulation on a global level; the social relations of capitalist society already constitute our lives.[i]

Continue reading “Is the G20 the Austerity Summit? No actually…..”

Debt and the Limited Imagination of the Left

Debt. Debt is constantly looming at us. It is now a key element of the political-ideological constellation of our time. Debt expresses both the current crisis of capitalism in its economic guise and also the ‘representation of the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence’(Althusser, 2008, p. 36). Debt is pervasive, all encompassing and seemingly inescapable.  The debt of Australian households is steady at 150% of income(Reserve Bank of Australia, 2013). If Australians only spent at the levels of their income it is more than probably that great sections of capital – especially retail – would no longer be viable. The majority of debt is tied up in mortgages: the major asset of most households is not only purchased by going into serious debt but only can maintain its value because the society as a whole is steeped in debt.

percentage-of-annual-disposable-income.ashx  Graph: (Bird, 2013)

It was the US Sub-Prime Mortgage crisis that triggered this current, seemingly permanent, economic malaise – and it is now sovereign debt, that is the debt of states, that is the part of its current manifestation. (Neither are the source of the crisis itself – for that you need to look deeper into the structure and history of capitalism.) The sharpest expression of this is the looming possibility that the US will not raise its debt ceiling and thus be compelled to either drastically cut state expenditure or default on its debt. Since US debt, in the form of Treasury Bills, make up a core component of the global economy, such a default would, in the words of IMF Christine Lagarde ‘…cause serious damage to the US economy, but also to the global economy as a result of the spillover effects.’

Continue reading “Debt and the Limited Imagination of the Left”