Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave for the last eight years, you’d surely find it impossible to avoid the conclusion that our political and economic rulers are taking us for fools and fleecing us blind.
The evidence is easy to find if you want to, and there are countless commentators and economists who argue persuasively for change – from writers as diverse as Nomi Prins, Nicolas Shaxson and Andrew Ross, to campaign groups such as Positive Money and the Occupy movement, to public figures such as Russell Brand and TV commentators Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert.
But despite the wealth of evidence, our political and economic leaders’ obvious dishonesty and the resulting public anger and mistrust, there has been no effective response. Our elite has virtually free rein, and seems unconcerned at the social and environmental damage it is causing. The time is ripe for action. So I’d like to run an idea past you all in general terms to see if you think it has legs – and to see who might wish to be involved in taking it forward.
To start with, some background. I’m in the process of writing a book called Psychopath Economics, which is about the nature of economic power, belief systems and consumption patterns, and their combined effect on the rise and fall of civilisations. In it, I talk about – amongst many things – why ordinary people today should challenge the financial and corporate elite’s economic and political elite’s domination. The first of its four parts are currently available at Smashwords.
Specifically, my analysis looks at how today’s rentier elite uses money creation, advertising concepts and debt to create a framework of control that’s reinforced through central bank market manipulation, quantitative easing and austerity, and justified with a preposterous neoliberal rationale. I argue that the elite’s endgame is to ensure that the vast majority of us are both completely dependent on it as the only provider for human need and simultaneously unable to challenge its power. In other words, the elite’s goal is to ensure we have to trade with the bankers and multinationals on their exploitative terms, regardless of the social, economic or environmental costs that we incur. It’s a relationship of parasite and host.
But though writing the book was and remains important to me, my main aim is to add momentum as far as I can to a grassroots movement for change, for which there seems to be significant nascent demand. Indeed, grassroots movements seem to be all the rage at the moment: in addition to movements like Podemos, Bernie Sanders has stated many times that without a grassroots movement, his election as US president would do little to dent the overwhelming power of Wall Street and corporate America; and Jeremy Corbyn has launched Momentum to marshall the groundswell of anti-austerity opinion here in the UK. The problem is there is no guarantee that any of these reformers will achieve electoral success, or be free enough to tackle the elite’s grip on power even if they did. This would be a terrible failure when, certainly from my own experience of giving talks on the issues around my book, it is clear that many people are resentful of corporate impunity and are receptive to, if not actively seeking, a means of redressing the balance.
Indeed, the political climate is such that we cannot expect even our bravest politicians to say the sort of stuff that needs to be said. For most politicians – except Bernie Sanders, it would seem – doing so would be tantamount to electoral suicide. So the only way to effectively and consistently challenge the elite’s power is to create a focal point that provides not just support, information and resources, but also art and entertainment and, above all, the leverage to effect change independently of the traditional political system. Leverage is the key: psychopathic power makes no concession without a genuine threat. We can talk about all this stuff for as long as we like, but without the power to effect change, that’s all it will be: talk.
However, ordinary people have more leverage than they think. Take the issue of debt, for example. A campaign that challenges the false morality around debt not only has the potential to unmask it as the tool of social control that it is, but the threat of a widespread debt rebellion would immediately concentrate the banks’ minds. Any significant campaign of debt denial would threaten to destabilise an already unstable bond market – a bond market that has already packaged, sold, repackaged and resold our debts so many times that it has made its own collapse inevitable.
I might be wrong, but though there are many campaign organisations working in this space, it seems to me that they are not collaborating anywhere near effectively enough, if at all, and are instead talking mainly to themselves and their own supporters.
So what I’m suggesting is the creation of an umbrella organisation that can bring these various campaigns closer together in a loose alliance designed to add a coherence to their collective message, so as to help them appeal to a much wider audience – and not just here in the UK, but across the US, Europe and further afield. This loose alliance could also be flexible enough to allow these organisations to disagree on details, or at least debate them publicly to help raise awareness of the issues.
Having said that, the organisation must have a set of core campaign topics and goals, and these should include:
- money, debt, the abolition of fractional reserve banking and the establishment of non-debt-based money systems;
- the illegitimacy and unsustainability of today’s unpayable debts – world debt currently stands at more than $230trn, which is more than 300% of global GDP – along with the morality of debt, debt relief and cancellation;
- anti-branding campaigns, such as those conducted by the Brandalism movement in the UK, to democratise corporate-generated ideas about our lifestyles, social status and consumption, all of which drive us to remain as passive consumers;
- the atomisation of society that delivers the elite’s control via international trade deals – such as TTIP and TPP – big data and surveillance;
- technology and the age of post-employment; and
- the rush towards resource depletion and climate change.
The sort of partner campaigns I have in mind would include the Uncut and Occupy movements, 38 Degrees, Positive Money, the environmental movement, as well as writers, academics and public figures ranging from the likes of Steve Keen, David Graeber, Michael Hudson to Bill Moyers and Billy Bragg – whose work the alliance would also actively promote. This is not about left or right, or capitalism versus socialism – although this can obviously be discussed. It’s about counteracting the elite’s overwhelming and undemocratic exercise of power.
It may be that this umbrella organisation would merely be a brand that serves to bring people to the agenda (my working title for this is The Debtors’ Cartel – please like the Facebook page here if you’re interested). But even if this is the case, it could and should be used to organise events – talks, comedy, music and art – so that it’s not just a political organisation that presents concepts in a way that engages the mainstream. In my view, it must also present life-affirming and positive alternatives to the current system’s asphyxiating narratives of futile despair.
And, as part of this, it should be a business opportunity in its own right, acting as a marketing portal for partner organisations’ products and services, as well as contributors’ books, reports and events. It could promote new bitcoin and bitgold accounts, for instance, as well as support the ranks of entrepreneurs in the alternative space, along with crowdfunding platforms and others pursuing innovative new business concepts. This group should not be anti-business, just anti the exploitative and parasitic rentier business models that our leaders are happy to foist on us. This movement could also design and sell its own merchandise to promote its messages with artistry, wit and intelligence. To me, the potential of such an offering is immense.
I do, however, completely appreciate the difficulty of bringing the existing campaign groups together as there will inevitably be issues of personal and institutional politics that keep them apart. But there is surely an opportunity to change this, particularly where a grassroots movement has the potential to attract new recruits from the mainstream and use their leverage to change the facts on the ground.
Anyway, that’s the idea in the most general terms. I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read this. If you’re interested, I would like to discuss the ideas in more detail. I’m also keen to give talks on the issues raised by my book. I began my research on Psychopath Economics just over two years ago as it had long been obvious to me that the prevailing economic narrative was merely a cover for an elite pursuing its interests at the direct expense of everyone else. A whole host of writers and academics, along with the Keiser Report, were instrumental in helping me sharpen and develop my ideas, and inspired me to commit to this project. We have both the expertise and the numbers to make a difference.
So, the time for talking and getting angry about our increasing state of dependency is over. And our economic system will almost certainly collapse without our help. But doing nothing will merely leave us at the elite’s mercy when the next crash finally arrives. Is that a future you’d be content with? No? Well, in my view, we need to act to protect ourselves. I’m up for the challenge. Are you?
- I am a UK-based journalist and writer. You can find The Debtors’ Cartel on Facebook and my book, Psychopath Economics, comes in four parts, the first of which is available as an ebook at Smashwords. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the Psychopath Economics Facebook page. Alternatively, you can follow Peter on Twitter and view his author profile at Smashwords.