Michael Rosen, Writer

This article by the British children’s author, Michael Rosen, is marginally off-topic but I believe it should be read by everyone in light of what’s happening in the UK and around the planet. If I’m reading it correctly, it’s a ‘call-to-arms’ for us to think in different ways about the world around us in the hope that we can change the limiting structures and hierarchies that have been in place for centuries, and by doing so, enable better, happier and more satisfying lives for every person. Something has to give, that’s for sure, or we will be wedged forever in a universe where the poor become poorer and the rich richer, surrounded by a landscape devoid of meaningful culture.

Incidentally, if you haven’t already read and shared Michael Rosen’s books with  your children, you’re missing a trick. My favourite is You’re Thinking About Doughnuts.


1. In the place that gets called ‘left-of-Labour’ or the ‘radical left’ or the ‘alternative left’, there have been all sorts of shifts and realignments. This is not as new as it looks. They happen all the time. The big ones happen when the most vociferous, most successful of the groupings goes through a crisis.

2. The real crisis for the ‘radical left’ is that we have failed to dent the politicians-media agreement about how to present the economic crisis. This agreement runs something like this: some bankers did some silly things…the result was a lot of debt and a credit squeeze…Labour did some silly things…the only way out of it is for government to spend less…this means that we must all agree that to save our skins, we must cut public spending…and we must freeze or cut wages…the only people who can be trusted to do this are the Tories.

3. We know that this is a hoax. Even quite right-wing politicians like Alan Johnson call it a ‘fat lie’. In fact, there are several lies. The bankers (and all the other financiers) weren’t just naughty. They smashed up big sections of the system that enables capitalism to operate. Through our governments’  actions all over the world, we have been taxed to keep that system solvent. Through our governments’ actions we have lost large sections of our welfare, education and cultural institutions – hospitals, schools, social services, benefits. Through our governments’ actions, people’s wages have been cut and/or people put out of work.

4. While this has been going on, the super-rich, the hyper-rich have got richer. The main reason why they have got richer is because the ‘cost’ of employing people has gone down. I say ‘cost’ in inverted commas, because it’s only a ‘cost’ from the point of view of those who employ. For everyone else it’s their ‘income’ or ‘spending power’. People don’t see themselves as a ‘cost’ nor should they!

5. So, ‘austerity’ is in fact, a realignment, a shuffling. It’s the means by which the poor stay poor (or are made poorer) and the rich to stay rich (or get richer). It’s nothing to do with the money that Labour did or did not borrow during its time in power. It’s entirely to do with the decisions that are made by financiers, finance ministers and giant corporations. Having taken risks that failed (on a massive scale, involving all sorts of gigantic fiddles and cons), they are trying to claw back solvency through making the mass of people work for less money and have much less by way of public services and benefits.

6. The ‘radical left’ has been saying this throughout the time of the crisis. However, we haven’t dented the consensus. This argument is hardly ever heard. Or, when it’s heard, very little happens. There are of course sporadic and brave efforts by people to defend jobs, wages and services. But, if we are ruthless and honest with ourselves, what has happened is that this hasn’t spread far and wide. It hasn’t become ‘generalised’, as the jargon has it.

7. And, just as importantly, it hasn’t enabled us all to see clearly that ‘wealth’ isn’t really what turns up in the figures on bankers’ computer screens. It isn’t even really ‘money’. Wealth is what we make and do with our minds and bodies. We work in places made with the past effort of the minds and bodies of our forbears. All the machines and infrastructure that enable goods and services to be produced and pass between us are made through…

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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