88 Fleet Street 88 Fleet Street, EC4Y 1DH London
In a first step the state makes itself dependent on the money earned by private competitors in its society by taxation. In a second step it deals with the dilemma that this deprives these competitors of the means of their success by issuing debt. The people who bought and sold this debt for decades have recently come to the conclusion – in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008 and partly due to some criticisms that they were too loose in their definition of a good investment – that the levels of debt held by successful capitalist states is unsustainable; a verdict concerned states understand. In a third step, then, they respond to this concern by implementing austerity measures. Austerity measures which, on the one hand, ought to reduce the cost of their populations and, on the other hand, ought to make their economies “more competitive”; more competitive against other states and their national economies, which do the same.
In this workshop we want to present and discuss what the bedroom tax has to do with the UK's AAA rating, why 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 save money is missing the point: mass impoverishment is not a side-effect but a deliberate goal of these policies. Austerity is not a numbers game where a certain level of debt ought to be reached but a weapon in international competition to convince “the markets” that the UK means business – and business means an able 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.