Friday, December 07, 2012

Britain's political class clings to the delusion that growth will return

Suzanne Moore brilliantly nails the myth of economic growth. She also does so in a far more articulate way than I could have done. 

Which is why I'm going to quote her directly and extensively:

Firstly, Moore decries,

"that bubble of hope where resources are not finite, recession not global and the elixir of growth will be found at the end of the rainbow. Fool's gold indeed."

The politics that expresses this fool's hope is, 

"fantasy politics of the highest order and the fantasy is maintained by those sheltered from the effects of these divisive policies."

It rests upon a disconnect between the government and the governed:

"Which politician will stand up and tell the truth? This may be as good as it gets. For some, it certainly is. If you are middle-aged, in work and own property, it isn't bad. If you are young, unemployed, want a place of your own, and have young kids, you will know what austerity means. The veil between these worlds should by now be in tatters; instead it is wrapped as tight as a blindfold. Posh restaurants are full, house prices are huge, CEOs are still on massive salaries. It is possible to move in such circles and see deprivation only through a car windscreen."

The alternative political reality is both challenging and unpalatable:

"But then a politics that faced the end of growth would have to take on mass delusion. It would talk about how we are to live with depleted resources. It might, as many have argued, involve a move back from global to local production to increase jobs. It might mean work being more evenly spread out between age groups, and it would deal with inequality because the costs of it are too high. Economic downsizing always sounds hippyish. We may have to buy less and make more. We may have to factor in care of the old, the ill, the young, as part of the economy and not continue to see it as undermining it. The alternative, though, and this is still where we are at, is to be mired in nostalgia for the world of the maxed-out credit card."

The political opposition in Parliament is implicated in the same delusional meta-narrative:

"If Labour cannot say "growth" is over, we have no effective challenge to the fallacy that it can go on for ever. Policy is what is stalled. To say austerity is the status quo would be seen as drowning not waving."

The reality, in conclusion, is that:

"The future has arrived already."

(Although politics has not caught up with it yet, in my opinion.)

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