How banking came to enjoy special status in law, including the ability to create money, leading to not just the huge inequality we see today but also easy finance for war and loss of independence for most people across the world. ‘Law and the Banking System’, Chapter Three of my book Bank Robbery, is now up on the websites Positive Money and The Cobden Centre:
The terrible witness of people drowning as they strive for better conditions in the West leads to the question: how are they reduced to such desperation, that the lowest-paid jobs and racist humiliation in strange lands are preferable to their lives at home?
Clues can be found in the massive international purchases, aided by corruption, of their lands at home, resulting in forced evictions and destructions of ways of life. Clues can be found in the corrupt, brutal kleptocracies called governments, which we in the West support in exchange for their lands, natural resources and riches. Clues can be found in the wars that rage on, fed by Western arms supplies in exchange for… the same.
Western nations have lost the capacity for self-criticism. Our media are full of outrage at ISIS, at Israel in Gaza, at Putin. When do we reflect on the massive damage done to human societies across the planet by our implantation and support of corrupt, murderous, kleptocratic states; the lust of our arms industries for perpetual war; the stream of murder that is our bombings by aeroplane and drone?
Welcome to my website. Here you will find details of work that has been published and/or performed, and examples of work in development.
Pages can be accessed via the menus above . Some pages are still under construction.
This page continues with a few blog pieces.
Two chapters of my book BANK ROBBERY are now published, on the websites of Positive Money and The Cobden Centre.
THE COBDEN CENTRE:
Details of other chapters still to come can be found on this site, under the menu item LATEST BOOK: BANK ROBBERY.
We are sometimes given the impression that the best among us rise to the top, and that we, the people, choose how we are governed.
‘Representation and democracy are a contradiction in terms,’ wrote John Adams, third President of the United States, and it’s not hard to agree with him. He was referring to the obvious fact that if we, the people, choose others to rule us, we are not doing the ruling ourselves. But what sort of system does representation turn out to be, if not democracy?
People who offer to ‘represent’ us want power. In the party system, those hungriest and most ruthless reach the top. They may not kill (though in many countries they do); they may not steal (though in many instances they do); but anyone who wants to stay in the race must lie, avoid inconvenient truths, and be ruthless: and, of course, have that dubious characteristic known as ‘charisma’. Such a character competes aggressively; it manipulates; it provokes; it is the very antithesis of a peaceful world. Enough is known about such a character type that it should be the last type on earth to be given power. In a world bristling with automated weapons systems, international relations need honesty, consistency and consensus.
And what about those who rise to the top in ‘civil’ society? Corporate systems favour much the same character type as does politics. Meanwhile millions – billions – of honest, conscientious people trudge on, doing their work as conscientiously as they can within terms set by the ruthless, greedy and manipulative. But conscientious people end up in the middle and at the bottom of society, if they are not excluded altogether.
Of course, we COULD change things! We COULD have some real democracy. We COULD rein in the power of corporations. We COULD contemplate the development of political systems that lead to consensus, not strife. We COULD develop a meaningful system of international law. But at the moment, we don’t look as if we are doing any of those things.
A piece for OpenDemocracy, showing how local assemblies with (some) real powers can re-invogorate community, politics and people’s lives…
Economists are geniuses at avoiding the obvious and saying what various factions among the powerful want to hear. A good example is their discussions of bank-money, which avoid noticing how destructive our modern system is to the human and natural world.
Money-creation has been assigned as a privileged activity to banks for the profit of capitalists and governments. As a result it consists of credit and debt, not as a straightforward commodity.
There are three main differences between bank-created money and money created as a commodity:
1. Newly-created bank-money is allocated to persons (human or corporate) by banks on the speculation that, one way or another, it will turn a profit. It is also allocated to governments on the promise of payment out of future taxes, burdening the citizenry with debt.
Newly-created commodity money, on the other hand, could be allocated in any way subject to democratic approval (e.g. spent by government in lieu of taxation, or distributed equitably, or given entirely to homes for retired cats).
2. Bank-money is created with an inbuilt demand for interest, which takes money out of circulation and into investment. This transfer inflates asset values, making everyone who is rich richer and the rest poorer.
Commodity money on the other hand can be lent, spent and even hoarded: it has no inbuilt widget taking from ‘have-nots’ and giving to the ‘haves’.
3. Once bank-money has done its work, it is destroyed, as loans are repaid. This creates a need for new money, which can only be created by making more loans.
Commodity money, on the other hand, can be managed actively with the objective of maintaining a steady value for money. If there is too much money in circulation, some can be removed via taxation and destroyed; if there is too little, more can be created and allocated as mentioned above.
Because of the above three points, it is foolish to be surprised when money accumulates in vast pools owned by governments and the very rich, leaving savers, independent producers and the poor worse off.
Does any central banker seriously believe that ‘quantitative easing’ will produce spending and recovery? Or do they know the obvious – that QE makes the rich richer?
Economists profess that if a 100 people, with a thousand dollars between them, want a cup of tea, and tea is on offer at one dollar per cup, everyone will probably buy a cup of tea.
They refuse to discuss the obvious fact that if one person has all the thousand dollars and everyone else is broke, only one cup of tea will be sold.
Are economists stupid? Disingenuous? Or do they merely serve those who get the money – that is, governments, capitalists and banks?
There are liars, there are hypocrites, and then there are economists….
In the Financial Times, Jason Cowley regrets http://t.co/WUZG17HuNI that there is ‘no politically committed writer to whom we can turn and learn from at moments of national consequence or crisis.’ The story behind this lack is a story of growing integration among the various powers, so that true criticism – as opposed to carping, point-scoring and jockeying for power – finds no outlet in our media: such voices are simply not heard.
Politically committed voices were loud during most of the 20th century when ‘left’ and ‘right’ were at it like dogs fighting over a bone – the bone being power, with a juicy marrow of money that tends to accompany power. But during the last three decades of the century, parties of right and left gradually shed their extremists and a new consensus arose. This consensus somehow picked up the name ‘neoliberalism’.
Neoliberalism unites the powers of BigState and Big Capitalism into a new power, which tolerates the worst abuses the mind can imagine: genocide, torture, murder, robbery of land and livings, destruction of the environment, ‘science’ (meaning profit from legally-enforced monopolies of knowledge) and the fragmenting and insecure bondage of ever-growing debt. Some of these abuses take place in far-away lands, in client states run by gangster governments. Others – debt and systemic robbery, for instance – carry on at home behind hidden laws and hidden doors.
Critics of neoliberalism say its ‘democracy’ is a sham, its ‘freedom’ a mirage, its ‘concern for the underdog’ rampant hypocrisy. Such writers are little heard. An eminent newspaper editor once said to me: ‘It is not the policy of any mainstream newspaper or journal to allow criticism of the fundamentals of our civilisation.’ The situation is further complicated by lingering loyalties to ‘left’ and ‘right’. Writers who who reach for a different understanding – true democracy, true freedom for instance – have no widely-established readership.
So to Jason Cowley I would say: there are plenty of politically-committed writers making interesting comments, but no one has the opportunity to turn to them, let alone learn from them, because journals and newspapers like the New Statesman and the Financial Times deny them the opportunity to be heard.
Ivo Mosley’s latest book is ‘In The Name Of The People’ (Imprint Academic, 2013).
The person, the image, the icon: when so many people are shouting hysterically both for and against the phenomenon known as ‘Margaret Thatcher,’ a temptation rises in a mind like mine to try and make sense of it all. What simple truth can be told?
Take one thread: what she did to England. The story, to my mind, begins a hundred and fifty years ago. The great capitalists had not only deprived the independent poor of most of their land (‘the enclosures’): they were combining in companies and industrial corporations to deny their workforces all but the most basic supports of life, reducing them to conditions often worse than slavery (visiting American slave-owners were often shocked at the high mortality of English workers, particularly children: slaves, representing capital investment, were not squandered so recklessly.)
So, the birth of trade unions: a simple way for workers to combine and protect themselves against the new capitalists: against laws made in their favour, and the power those laws gave them, often exercised in the most horrific manner.
Over time, however, power corrupts; and the trades unions were no exception. After a hundred years, their own power was being exercised irresponsibly, unaccountably, with no concern for wider society. If this memory is not available to all, it needs to be recovered.
And so a proportion of voters (was it 34% of the electorate?) voted in a government headed by Mrs Thatcher to take on irresponsible trades union power. Whatever else happened, her government accomplished the job. But she and her party represented an even greater power: the power of naked capital, and capital-creation, to appropriate for its own profit the wealth and labour of others.
And so, quite simply, the gridlocked corporate industry of England was destroyed: and the City of London was liberated, to loot and pillage the world via the most corrupt system of finance ever invented. This power-house of appropriation has supplied the government with borrowings (and tax) to feed those reduced to meaningless subsistence by the destruction of corporate industry. And England became the place we know today: none of Thatcher’s successors have chosen to confront or undo a legacy which gives them so much in money and power.
At this point, the famous quote of Acton ‘all power corrupts…’ seems inadequate. The words of Jacob Burckhardt seem more appropriate:
‘Now power is in itself evil, no matter who wields it. It is not constant or dependable, it is a lust, and therefore insatiable: unhappy in itself, it is bound to make others unhappy too.’
A story simple enough.