Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Austerity as ideology

The always lucid and excellent Paul Krugman comprehensively dismantles the brand of economic illiteracy practiced by the Cameron government in the UK, in a way that applies throughout continental Europe, and to the doctrine also now perused by the Republican Party in the United States: it is self-defeating. But in what way is it self-defeating? It is destructive in numerous ways: in its deprivation to human development, its dismantling of social mobility, and its priority of cost saving ahead of public welfare, the more important result of which are moral and ethical atrocities which are in many ways unspeakable (see the withdrawal of benefits from the disabled or legal protection from domestic violence victims).

As we all know, the primary cause of the increase in external deficits has been the financial crisis that began in 2008, which was the consequence of the greed, incompetence and criminality of an elite in multinational corporate and financial power. The just, and indeed productive response, would be the totally restructuring of public finance following the liquidation of these institutions, and a substantive, fundamental address to the issues of wealth inequality. This would ensure immense deficit reduction (rather than austerity's long-term inflation of debt as the consequence of increased borrowing costs to avert increasing stagnation). But most importantly, it would entail investment in the public infrastructure, education, healthcare and welfare for the poor that would provide a decent and alleviated human condition for entire populations.

Austerity's ideological and vested interests believe otherwise. It represents socioeconomic catastrophe and illiteracy: if the benevolence and literacy preferred is in fact basic human dignity and well being. In serving to reinforce the failed neoliberal power hierarchies by conserving its inherently amoral and obscurantist conservation of wealth at absolutely any expense to the human condition for a hypothetical infinitude, it will be a success if those aware ever eventually submit to deception and violence and let it be.

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