Are there better ways of organising society and economies? 

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“Austerity is part of a wider approach called neo-liberalism which is based on five very short and easy to understand principles: free markets; small state; low tax; individual liberty; and big defence”: so read the notice of West Midlands Politics of Networks’ two workshops exploring alternatives to austerity, placed on this site some time ago. The organisers were from Localise West Midlands, Compass, the Peace Hub and the Jubilee Debt Coalition.

A recent link in the Brummie led to another reference to neoliberalism from LWM’s Karen Leach:

“Inequality is a major symptom of the centralised, remotely owned and parasitic economy that neoliberalism has created for us, and provenly a cause of social and environmental ills.

“Addressing it is a major driver of the work Localise WM does towards an economy in which we all share power and ownership. Needless to say, the so-called austerity agenda is not improving matters: rough sleeping has doubled in the UK since 2010; and debts and low, insecure incomes are leaving people vulnerable to economic shocks. The Divide Film, on general release in April, gives us an opportunity to raise the issue publicly.

“Whether or not there’s an active local Equality group, we all have to remember how economic inequality affects everything we work on, and make it central to the progressive alternatives we’re proposing and a driver of political engagement – both in the West Midlands and across the UK”.

The stated aim of the Digbeth gatherings was to set out a concise, inclusive and easily understandable alternative to neo-liberalism” and values and principles held in common were established at the two workshops.

The five given principles of neo-liberalism – free markets; small state; low tax; individual liberty; and big defence – have not yet been defined and addressed at these gatherings, but yesterday one Digbeth attender emailed an account defining and assessing the neo-liberal principles and making a pragmatic political response which outlined the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best:

“a short distance along the path to new ways of organising society and economies” . . . and later adding:

I think that the root cause of inequalities goes deeper than neoliberal economics and relates to the location of economic and political power – neoliberal economics becomes one tool that elites use to maintain their position.

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The next meeting, on April 4th, will be publicised on this site.

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