88 Fleet Street 88 Fleet Street, EC4Y 1DH London
That austerity is somehow related to how the state finances itself is well known. It then presents a bit of a riddle how someone with the power to raise taxes – i.e. chooses how much money to earn – can be in trouble with paying the bills. Indeed, one response to austerity – by groups like UK Uncut and beyond – is to remind the state of its tax raising powers and to demand “tax the rich” to plug the hole in public finances. So why isn't this happening?
To answer this question we have to look at what taxes actually are. The state collects taxes in the form of money which its citizens earn in motley competition against and with each other. This – we claim – expresses that the state watches over a rather peculiar society. It wants its subjects to compete against each other – following their own economic calculations – and it wants to provide them with the conditions to do so successfully, overall. This presents a comfortable dilemma to the state: to provide the conditions of national economic success it has to deprive the competitors of the means and purpose of their economic activity, i.e. their money. This dilemma – we claim – explains tax loopholes, on the one hand, and tight budgets for the provision of social services, on the other.
Furthermore, we want to present our critique of tax justice campaigns of which there are two radically different varieties. The first takes the standpoint of the tax payer who demands “value for money” and misunderstands the act of direct appropriation – taxation – as a form of exchange: the tax payer feels entitled to government services and good governance by virtue of having money taken from her by force. The second – radical – standpoint demands that the state use its tax raising powers to alleviate poverty instead of escalating it. On this, we want to present and discuss how this critique instead of offering a way out of socially produced poverty, depends on it: taxing capitalist corporations presupposes their success.