Economics is supposed to be the study of how limited resources can be used to meet unlimited needs. We’re well on the way to shredding the ecosystem with our frenzied excess, so we need it to be that more than ever.
But modern economics isn’t that at all. For a lot of people, that definition doesn’t have anything to do with the E-word as they understand it.
The way economics is presented to us, you’d think it was all about money, banks or business – and those things are definitely hugely important to the type of economics that we’re stuck with at moment. But it would be equally possible to have economics that didn’t involve any of those things.
The reason that suggestion strikes most ordinary modern people as insane is because, in the mainstream, the E-word has been reduced to unsubtle cheerleading for an incredibly specific, biased and ethically dubious way of conducting human affairs. Economics has basically become the study and practice of capitalism. And so, if you’re looking to explain modern economics, that’s where you need to start. Continue reading
In front of the leader of the neoliberalised world, for some reason.
Islamic State militant ‘Jihadi John’ has allegedly been killed in a US drone strike. Born Mohammed Emwazi in Kuwait before moving to the UK, ‘John’ became notorious after appearing in videos posted online in which Western aid workers were apparently beheaded.
While Cameron and his American counterparts trumpeted John’s death as an unmitigated triumph, Jeremy Corbyn said it was a shame he wasn’t brought in alive and put on trial. Cue a flurry of criticism accusing the Labour leader of being out of touch with public opinion.
He is, and that’s good, because public opinion is wrong about most things. A few years ago, a MORI poll found that people think benefit fraud is 34 times more costly than it actually is, that 24% of the population is Muslim when in fact it’s only 5%, and that 31% are recent immigrants when in fact it’s only 13%. It’s not surprising, because for decades an overwhelmingly corporate news media has done its best to make people woefully ill-informed, prejudiced, and irrationally quick to anger. Continue reading
London is the biggest city in England, by far. It’s the country’s commercial hub, administrative centre, cultural powerhouse, priciest 610 square miles of real estate and an eight million-person fuck you to everyone who says that different cultures and ethnicities can’t peacefully coexist. And it’s the ultimate symbol of the self-destructive insanity of our way of life.
To some extent, it’s true of all modern cities. But London represents the modern city at its most extreme – most unequal and elite-dominated, most wasteful and polluting, most insular and unaccountably powerful. It’s a planet-choking over-concentration of entitled, self-fixated, consumption-crazed hyper-individualists living life as if the world’s some sort of consequence-free playpen built for their own personal enjoyment – plus thousands of less fortunate Londoners living in abject poverty, and millions struggling and just about managing to keep their heads above it. It’s also world capital of neoliberalism, and the values system that’s a) destroying, and b) crushing any attempt to save the environment.
Never making much of an effort to hide my borderline Partridgesque London-phobia, I try and avoid going as much as possible. Recently, though, I couldn’t get out of it, and spent a weekend wandering around the capital being walloped by the wrongness of the place. Continue reading