Degrowth and the ‘assistance’ of Modern Monetary Theory

This is an excellent article by Jason Hickell on degrowth and how Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) helps that narrative. Indeed MMT always helps anything that needs resources directed towards it because it actually explains how the monetary system works and shows that money is human created for whatever purpose is required!

The article itself is short, lucid – and well worth a read.

For me the interesting part is that the author suggests that capitalism seeks to sabotage public abundance in order to generate private riches.

I’m not so sure that this was ever actually capitalism’s ‘intention’ because capitalism was originally wedded to the gold standard. So by definition money was short. Mind you the enclosures certainly shut off a public abundance for spurious reasons and effectively encouraged much more private endeavour. The result was certainly to ensure that the most determined capitalists grabbed as many resources as they could in order to become wealthy.

I do agree that that public affluence tends to render private need redundant. One has only to compare the NHS with the American health system to know that that must be true.

So the idea that taxes pay for expenditure is a great advantage to the privately wealthy, who can even suggest that they provide the resources for government.

Understanding that taxes pay for nothing but prevent inflation is thus able to be considered a concept of monumental stupidity. Private is always better than public because the private sector creates the money and know what they’re on about – and so on. All rubbish of course.

Furthermore, should they be suggested, Universal (Basic) Services are certainly a distinct threat to capitalism. Though I’m unsure why capitalism should, by its supporters, be considered so fragile.

But in any case, capitalism itself has, I’d suggest, been bastardised into either, first, financial capitalism which, through banking, feeds off everything and everyone and thus largely redistributes resources that exist already, or, second, crony capitalism as demonstrated by the ‘friendly’ award of PPE contracts at extortionate prices to Tory Party donors, which is those ‘friends’ feeding off the money creation machine that is government.

So the economy, supposedly a common project, seems less to work for everyone and more and more to be a project hijacked by finance and corruption.

Giorgos Kallis suggests that, “capitalism cannot survive under conditions of abundance”. Actually it seems to me that it needs to be spelt out rather better: “Capitalism – which is inherently private – cannot easily flourish under conditions of public abundance”

Once people’s basic needs are met then capitalism becomes the ‘nice to have’ rather than the essential category, and financiers, or indeed capitalists, have less to exploit. As an ex mini capitalist myself, (I have to admit that wine is in the nice to have category) I’m not entirely convinced basic capitalism is always wrong as long as it operates in a fair rules framework. What has made it much worse is the way that capitalism has been exploited by the financiers – I’ve certainly felt their pressure – or even the regrettable PFI of both Conservatives and, shamefully, Labour, which renders state capitalist requirements as simply something to be exploited by big business and private finance.

So when Jason Hickell says that “MMT provides an opportunity for us to create a post-growth, post-capitalist economy” he is saying no more than it is possible now with our current monetary system.

So money is decidedly not the problem, nor even capitalism.

Political will is the problem.