Since the General Election, some of us were thinking we would like to discuss Austerity as this has so many implications along with the Alternative, which is growth.
In fact, we would like this discussion to take place everywhere. We have a Community Café in Ventnor, where we talk about all kinds of things. You may have a little area on the Isle of Wight College campus, or where you take your tea-breaks at work. It might be in the staff room at school or even in the local pub or your front room with friends.
We all like to pour out our feelings.
It is our mass democracy; where we want to talk, exchange opinions and debate things. This is where we exercise our human rights. This is where we talk about the necessity to change.
Instead of war we want peace, instead of fascism we want freedom and democracy. Instead of the interests of the 1%, the few, we want the pro-social interests of the community at large and humanity in general. Why do we need Trident? Why can we not have an anti-war Government?
There is a large amount of uncertainty at the moment about Austerity and how it is affecting life, some people who work for the Council, Librarians, Crossing Patrol Workers and others are likely to have the service outsourced or wiped out altogether so jobs will go. It is all due to cuts in Government grants to local authorities.
Some teaching assistants who no-longer work for the local authority, but Academies instead, face diminished responsibility that is not of their making and their jobs are threatened.
Workers on low pay and even jobs are affected by lack of investment in proper well-paid jobs. The reason is manufacture has been cut back for so long. The Prime Minister wants to address the problem, not through investment but through “Productivity” this means either extending the working day for those at work, getting one person to do two people’s jobs or working harder. What else could it mean?
Manufacturing has been stuck at only 10% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) since the ‘80s, not one political party at Westminster has even thought of addressing this when a balanced economy should be nearer 25% as it was in the ‘60s and ‘70s when it was nearer full employment. We have to make things to create wealth. Dependency on the service sector and banking is no good, the ‘Big Bang’ on Canary Wharf did not produce the Alternative economy as predicted and this has been highlighted since the banking crisis of 2007. Growth seems to be stuck at 0.3% or thereabouts, which is no growth at all. The downturn appears to have permanent features.
Workers on benefits have to struggle to make ends meet whether in or out of work. The cuts to welfare are to go on making life harder for people. There are people now made homeless because of the “bedroom tax” or have to rely on Foodbanks to make ends meet.
Students these days have to work and study. There are no grants, only loans, which hang over their heads for years. Students have to live, buy clothes, they need to eat and need accommodation. Students also need to buy books. This is our future generation who will be needed to keep civilisation going.
The most vulnerable people who need care should be cared for. The old, the disabled, people with learning difficulties, they need assistance to fully take part in society. We must have equality and there must be human rights for all. What are we going to do about care for the elderly who can no longer sustain life at home when they are left alone? Do we not have a responsibility to them?
Capitalism faces an existential crisis, a new phenomenon these days. Why is this? Is it because the politicians have no solution to the economic crisis? In previous recessions and crises, there have been building programmes, infrastructure investment, large national projects and investment in Social Programmes like after the war when schools, Council House programmes and Hospitals were built. Why is this not happening today?
Today our entire Education system is in crisis and so is our NHS.
The banking crisis ruled out lending to firms to invest. Big Monopolies have moved out of Europe or closed down. HS2 and Cross-rail is the Government’s answer to infrastructural investment, but we know this has not solved regional problems so why are they not genuine social economy investments? What needs to be done?
These questions need analysis because no-one else is going to do it for us. We need to broaden the debate around Austerity and its consequences and also the Growth Alternative.
These questions are not particularly class questions, but they are human or people questions because it affects everyone, not only the poorest but also the stressed out middle strata.
Obviously when people discuss these things they want to know, “What is going to be done about it?” It is the relationship between form and content. It is all down to getting organised and going into action.
Yet talking about these things is the first step, the content has to be established first and the form of organisation comes later. The content of the discussion first and foremost has to be about Austerity and all of its implications.
People will not want to miss out on this trend, they will want to be part of it as best they can. So don’t miss out, come along or start talking.
It’s a sign of the times that people want to talk about the future and creating a new culture. The culture of consumerism, credit and unhealthy environment is being rejected. There must be sustainability and care over our resources. People will want to put things right with new ideas. There is magnetism around this kind of thing that is very catchy where there is a concern about literally everything. Youth can get very excited about these things. It becomes action to change the world! Just like the 60’s where channelling youthful energy toward the well-being of society and instilling confidence in our young people to encourage them, is the trend and where we want to be.