Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Why we must all bow down to "The Market"

Sometime ago I posted on here about the people of the remote Lambayeque Valley in Peru who were threatened by a series of environmental crises, and who sacrificed some of their number and destroyed pyramids they had built to appease the gods in an attempt to save themselves. You see, they believed that the gods were angry and must be appeased if they were to be saved from catastrophe. Needless to say they were wrong and after lasting for 450 years their civilisation was destroyed.

I was reminded of this when I watched Question Time last week. In fact I am reminded of it almost every time I open a newspaper or switch on a radio or television these days. On Question Time the redoubtable Melanie Phillips was one of the pundits telling anyone who could be bothered to listen that there was only one answer to the economic crisis we are in - we must appease "The Market". Like so many others she believes that "The Market" can only be appeased by a few selected actions, the favourite of which appears to be "tax cuts". Cut taxes and all will be well. The crisis will come to an end. There are of course other things which appease "The Market"; they include "privatisation", "flexibility of labour" and another important cut known as "cutting red tape". In fact there are lots of cuts which appease the market. Cutting benefits and cutting public expenditure also keep "The Market" happy.

Of course there is never any acknowledgement by supporters of "The Market" that the great economic crisis we are in might have been caused by "The Market", or even that it is in fact just the latest and greatest in a series of crises caused by "The Market", because "The Market" can never be blamed for anything. We can though, blame everything else, the government, trade unions, public sector, regulators, benefit scroungers, or even the weather. If anything goes wrong the inevitable answer that we get is that we need more of "The Market", not less. Because "The Market" is there to be admired and worshipped by the devout. Its not difficult to imagine Melanie as a Lambayeque priestess administering cuts to the unfortunate sacrificial victims on a Peruvian pyramid. But have no doubt; faith in "The Market" is just that; faith. Its not economics or policy or even ideology, it is a belief system as strong and irrational as the beliefs of the high priests of the Lambayeque Valley. On the day that a new Pope was elected let us not forget that the believers in the true faith are people who believe in "The Market".
Antibiotics - another failure of "The Market"
At the moment, millions of people are being sacrificed on the altar of austerity because that is what "The Market" wants. Not only that but the planet and the people that depend upon it are in danger of being destroyed like the Lambayeque people to suit the needs of "The Market". Yesterday we heard of another failure of "The Market". We are facing a crisis in healthcare due to a lack of effective new antibiotics. This is because "The Market" deems it is not profitable to produce them so they aren't going to be made. Could this be the same "Market" which is feeding antibiotics to farmed animals to make them fatter, rendering the antibiotics we need less effective in the process? Or is it the same "Market" that can't provide us with houses to live in, or vaguely ethical financial services or fairly priced utilities, or was responsible for BSE, or can't provide two billion people with an income of more than $2 a day? The list goes on and on, and so does the madness of  "The Market" and its disciples. But let's make no mistake, if we don't end the tyranny of this mad belief system the fate that befell the people of Lambayeque awaits all of us too.

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