Silvia Swinden became a registered member 3 years ago
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” (Albert Einstein)
Whilst hearing a policymaker from the Bank of England engage in open discussion with (and praising) the Occupy role in bringing about change is hopeful, it was difficult not to see the presentation as somehow overoptimistic, that the system has heard the people and that change is under way. It is true that the separation of retail and investment banking is a step (strongly resisted, we might add) in the right direction, but the assumption that on account of such separation the speculative casino will continue on its own merry way without causing the same disasters it has brought about is naïve. As long as there is a produce-nothing, create-nothing get-rich-quick wheel the brain drain, or brain waste of intelligent and highly educated people (also mentioned by Haldane) who could have been addressing the real problems of the world – incurable diseases, climate change, energy – will not stop. Nor will the diversion of funds from the real economy to the speculative one, even if banks cannot do it, “investors” can, and will, encouraged by the ever-present oracles of the Credit Rating Agencies pretending not to be biased towards client companies. Not to mention that “the new Bank of England leaf” does not include a plan to close Tax Havens, hoarding at present over £21 trillion, some calculate much more.
Another sticky point in this presentation was that one of the five strategic points mentioned by Haldane as the way to “correct” the system was to increase competition. Not only this is one of the central dogmas of neo-liberalism, but repeating that “competition works” does not make it any truer. We know that the private sector tends to form Cartels that favour their supposedly competing members who agree to protect their profits rather than their customers or clients. So where he would hope to see more banks with more or less the same structure, turning a better new leaf would mean replacing “competition” with “alternative”, that is, to offer a completely different choice. For example, instead of privatising and cannibalising the Post Office, it could easily be transformed into a 0% interest state Bank, with no speculative arm and serving only the needs of the community.
Another question from the floor that was not really answered was the issue of Money as Debt, the way the banking system creates money in the form of credit, but it does not create the money to repay the interests. In this way the system is designed to create concentration, poverty and the need to “expand” the economy all the time to find the resources (human and environmental) to fill the gap. This ever increasing need of resources also fuel wars for their control, justified on ideological lines, or the need to protect other people’s “human rights”. And the environmental disaster looming in the horizon gets dismissed as a secondary concern.
We must be grateful, though, for the opportunity of such direct line to the thinking process at the heart of the system, for it has given us the chance to think more in depth about where are the resistances to building a truly humanised world.