The root cause of our problems. Money.

The new financial year is kicking in, and with it all the new budget cuts and austerity measures forced upon us by the political class and their corporate masters. If you’ve already had your payslip for March, you’ll have seen your NI payments went up. As our wages/incomes devalue, down to 2005 levels already, things are going to get worse. Meanwhile inflation rises along with unemployment, whilst benefits and services are cut. Yet banks and other corporations hand out big fat bonuses and salary increases, and there’s plenty of spare cash for another war or two. So plenty of money and wealth around, its just not shared out equally. Those who hold it control power, and they won’t be giving it away, unless we take it. But what if there was no money, or we created a new world outside the capitalist system?

In a rare radical moment, last Saturday’s Guardian newspaper (run on capitalist lines of course), on the morning of the great protests in London, printed the following article by John Holloway. The author of ‘Crack Capitalism’ and a host of other books worth checking out, lobbed a serious challenge into the cuts debate:

Cracks in the rule of money

How do we escape a system that’s tearing up the world? We say ‘no’, and do things differently.

These are days of rage. Rage in the Arab world, of course, but also on the streets of Athens, Dublin, Rome, Paris, Madrid, and now a loud clamourous rage on the streets of London.

An age of crisis is an age of frustrated hopes, frustrated life. We want to go to university but it is too expensive. We need good healthcare, but we cannot pay for it. We need homes, and we can see homes standing empty, but they are not for us. Or, for the millions of people who are starving: we want to eat, we can see that there is plenty of food for everyone, but something stands between us and the food – money, or the lack of it.

And so we rage. We rage all the more because we do not know what to do with our rage, and how to use our rage to make the world a different place.

We rage against the government. But we know there is no answer there. Representative democracy holds our rage entrapped: like a rat in a maze, we run from one party to another but there is no exit. Things do not and cannot get better because behind political power stands another, greater power – the power of capital; the power of money.

And so we rage against the rule of money. Not against money itself, necessarily, because in the present society we need money to live. We rage rather against the rule of money, against a society in which money dominates. Money is a great bulldozer tearing up the world. It is an insidious force penetrating ever more aspects of our lives. Money holds society together, but it does so in a way that tears it apart.

At one stage it seemed we had pushed the rule of money back, at least in areas like health and education. It was never really so, and for a long time we have seen the progressive re-imposition of the rule of money as the prime criterion for every decision. Now money has emerged in all its arrogance. That is what makes us so angry – the government has proclaimed openly “Money is king, bow low to the king!”

Rage, then, rage against the rule of money! As long as money rules, injustice and violence prevail – money is the breach between the starving and the food, the gap between the homeless and the houses. As long as money rules we are trapped in a dynamic that nobody controls and that is visibly destroying the possibility of human existence.

Money seems all powerful, yet it is not. It is merely a form of social cohesion, and depends on our compliance. Say no, then. Do something else, do things in a different way. Refuse and create.

In fact we spend a lot of our lives creating spaces we protect from the assault of money. We create no-go areas, we put up signs that say: “Here the people rule! Here, in our relation with our children and our friends, in our schools, in our hospitals there is a different dynamic at work. Money stay out!” We have many different names for these moments or spaces: love or friendship or trust.

Cracks in the rule of money are everywhere. They can be seen not just in the love of children or friends but in the revolts and experiments where people are saying, “No, we shall not accept the rule of money, we shall do things in a different way”. So many refusals and creations, so many dignities – sometimes big, sometimes small, always contradictory. Occupations, social centres, community gardens, alternative radio stations, free software, rebellions, and seminars that concentrate on the only scientific question remaining to us, namely how we can stop our headlong rush towards self-destruction.

The only hope of creating a radically different world is through the creation, expansion, multiplication and confluence of these cracks. Refuse and create. Push back the rule of money.

– by John Holloway, printed in the Guardian and online on 26/3/11