Monday, 16 March 2009

Democratic Banking

Doubltess everyone else saw Money As Debt years ago. I only got round to seeing it a couple of days ago. Hugely recommended, especially for those, like myself, who are economically illiterate.

We had previously considered it outrageous that our schools did not and do not organize a single meaningful classroom activity on our great democratic tradition. The same must now be said of money and banking and international finance. If it can be so effectively summed up in a 47 minute cartoon, it ought to be compulsory viewing for every 18-year-old still in full-time education.

The conclusion we draw is that monetary reform is imperative. The picture (which may or may not be quite accurate - we are not in a position to say) of a financial system dependent on an ever-expanding debt that can NEVER in principle be repaid is just as disturbing as the rape of the planet.

Our working hypothesis, while we hurriedly follow up some of Paul's interesting footnotes, is that the banks must all be nationalized and that banking must become politically/ethically/socially concerned. The idea that banking is a business that must be allowed to go its own sweet way while it wreaks havoc with our prospects for a pension so that we will probably now have to go on working until we drop dead at the lathe - this idea must be publicly vilified. We are surprised that in all the articles we previously read about democratic theory we never came across an injunction to democratize the banks (and democratization surely presupposes nationalization). It just seems glaringly obvious that the state (or state controled organisations) should issue the loans, and issue them WITHOUT interest (bring back the sin of usury, if necessary). Of course we have heard before that the state cannot be trusted. Now it is clear, though, that the banks certainly cannot be trusted. And if the state cannot be trusted, then democracy cannot be trusted, in which case let's scrap the charade of voting. No, we think the state can be trusted, but we feel that this presupposes not the rise of the technocrats (the Bernanke's of this world) but putting a stop to the anti-democratic dumbing down of the populus.

Of course the crisis ought to be a great opportunity for some radical change, now that there is no ignoring the political, social significance of the economy. What is almost as depressing as the loss of one's pension, however, are the signs that nothing essentially will change - everything will be geared to getting us back to the unethical, undemocratic, depressing and alienating mess we were in before.

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