Garnethill Multicultural Centre 21 Rose Street, G3 6RE Glasgow
The institutions which bought and sold sovereign debt for decades have recently come to the conclusion that the levels of debt held by successful capitalist states is unsustainable; a verdict concerned states understand and respond to by implementing austerity measures. Austerity measures which, on the one hand, seek to reduce the cost of their populations and, on the other hand, seek to make their economies “more competitive”; that is more competitive against other states and their national economies- these other states are engaged in the same process.
In this workshop we want to present and discuss what welfare reform has to do with the UK's AAA rating, why the benefit cap is an apt austerity measure even though it only affects a small minority of people, why the government puts pressure on people to find work in a time of mass unemployment and why the government's agitation against “benefit scroungers” is agitation not only against people on benefits but also against other workers.
Based on this we then want to critique various responses to austerity. Criticising austerity for its harshness and proposing alternative ways for the state to raise or save money elsewhere is missing the point: mass impoverishment is not a side-effect but the deliberate means which these policies adopt to achieve the end of economic growth. Austerity is not a numbers game where a certain level of debt should be reached but a weapon in international competition to convince “the markets” that the UK means business – and business means a useful and submissive work force. We also want to show that explaining austerity as a merely ideological project by the Tories fails to realise that the subjection under the rule of capital is systematic and not a funny idea of some nasty people.