IN LIZ (I DO NOT) TRUSS.

Well another excruciatingly long pantomime of choosing a UK Prime Minister is over and the three ringed circus acts of political illusionists, intellectual acrobats and media clowns can get back to business as post-Covid19 ‘unusual’. Undoubtedly they are all hoping for (some even promising) an eventual return to pre- Covid levels of business as usual. The choice by the Conservative Party members of ‘Liz we Truss’, just about sums up the socio-economic consensus of all the left, right and centre parties of the political establishment in the UK and elsewhere. The contestants for this prime office in the UK only differed in minuscule details. Indeed, in the UK, Liberals, Labour, Tories and Greens all agree ‘economic growth’ is the answer to everyone’s woes.

Economic growth is the logical Emerald City mirage to which all political parties committed to capitalism wish to lead us. If the rest of us can be persuaded to follow them down the twisted, pot-holed road of economic growth, we are promised a bright future. Of course, as Liz Truss and her support team warn us; there will be some ‘pain and grief’ along the way, but if (as Dorothy told her ‘over-the-rainbow’ companions, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion), we commit wholeheartedly to the journey we will be eventually rewarded. Not necessarily with renewed hearts, brains and courage though. Meanwhile, the new-deal Dorothy’s in number ten, have promised to introduce measures to ‘take the edge off’ the painful journey.

Advised by the real life financial Wizards of Oz, the companions of ‘In Liz we Truss’ and her political supporters will therefore remove business restrictions, reduce taxation for the rich, provide grants, loans and handouts for their high finance and big business supporters and ease the burden on small businesses. Workers will have to become more efficient (ie.work harder) and stop striking to keep their wages and salaries high enough to survive reasonably during the ‘painful’ journey ahead. Of necessity, these real life spreaders of illusions in number ten will also try to make sure the very poor don’t starve or freeze to death during the journey; because death rather poverty itself, is too embarrassing for wealth-saturated countries to become to visible.

Everybody else will once again just have do their best to adjust to another period of prolonged austerity. But that should not be a surprise, because haven’t we been on the same or a similar journey before? Didn’t a previous Dorothy ‘over-the-rainbow’ avatar named Margaret Thatcher, invite us to join her on a similar journey to another promised Emerald City some decades ago? Didn’t that ‘growth’ agenda also involved campaigns against strikes, for more economic growth by automation, for removing the regulation of what business and finance could do, for buying your own council house and for privatising all utilities.

I distinctly remember the invitation even though I personally rejected it! That socio-economic Yellow Brick Road, growth journey was supposed to lead to a wonderful bright Emerald City future wasn’t it? But wait! We never got there did we? And isn’t there now more low pay and precarious employment? Isn’t there more poverty, more crime, more drug dealing, more pollution in the air and on land and in seas? Is it not a fact that our seasides and rivers are more clogged up with chemicals, plastics and pharmaceutical products, than existed before we were marched down Margaret’s less than enticing version of the mythical Yellow Brick Road?

Isn’t it time we began to fully understand and accept that ‘growth’ under the system of capitalism means more and more production, more and more waste, more and more pollution, more and more climate change, more and more species loss, more and more ecological imbalance, more and more poverty, fewer and fewer well paid jobs, along with less and less security in our homes and around the world? Is it too much to ask of a species with so much brain power that it can do all sorts of amazing things to halt what it is doing daily and seriously study the bigger picture?

What humanity and the rest of ‘life on earth’ needs, is less growth, less wealth disparity, less production, less pollution, less climate change, less species loss. In other words the world and all its species need less capitalism. I suggest that it is time for not just a change in the political Dorothy’s, Lizz’s and Boris’s who click the heels of their polished footwear and invite us to keep going in their preferred direction. Is it not time for a change in a system whose elites keep insisting that in order to survive we need to constantly repeat previous journeys along imaginary Yellow Brick Roads, in the hope of some day encountering a benevolent wizard?

Roy Ratcliffe (September 2022)

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