Vocabularies of the economy

Nikita Simpson
March 17, 2016
"Doreen Massey en Traficantes de Sueños" by Rubén G. Herrera is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

On April 24, 2013, the founding editors of the new left journal Soundings – including Stuart Hall, Michael Rustin and Doreen Massey – launched The Kilburn Manifesto,  a challenge to ‘neoliberal victory’ in London. A response to the Global  Financial Crisis, the manifesto was a call to action – a call for the  left to disrupt the ubiquity of the status quo and to invent an  alternative. It was followed, over the succeeding year, by a series of  monthly instalments that aimed to examine different aspects of the  crisis and to frame the socio-economic debate such that an alternative  approach might be attained.

We re-publish one of the classic  articles that came as part of this movement – Doreen Massey’s meditation  on the way in which the cant of neoliberalism has cemented the economic paradigm.

Three years on, and in the wake of Massey’s recent passing, we are in a position to meditate ourselves on the success of the left in  responding to the ’neoliberal hegemony’. We might question whether fire  has only been fought with fire – that the left has responded to the cant  of neoliberalism with a cant of its own. We might question if the left  has been hamstrung by the dead hand of critique. Or whether the left  has, infact, reinvented itself to provide the alternative the Kilburn  Manifesto promised, with fresh faces such as Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders.
– Nikita Simpson

At an art exhibition last summer I  engaged in a very interesting conversation with one of the young people  employed by the gallery. As she turned to walk off I saw she had on the  back of her t-shirt ‘Customer Liaison’. I felt flat. Our whole  conversation seemed somehow reduced, my experience of it belittled into  one of commercial transaction; my relation to the gallery and to this  engaging person had become one of market exchange. The very language  positioned us, the gallery, and our relationship, in a very particular  way.

We know about this practice, and its  potential effects, in many arenas. On trains and buses, and sometimes in  hospitals and universities too, we have become customers, not  passengers, readers, patients or students. In all these cases a specific  activity and relationship is erased by a general relationship of buying  and selling that is given precedence over it.

The language we use has effects in  moulding identities and characterising social relationships. It is  crucial to the formation of the ideological scaffolding of the hegemonic  common sense. Discourse matters. Moreover it changes, and it can –  through political work – be changed. We have been enjoined to become  consumers rather than workers, customers where once we were passengers.  (And indeed the process is never complete. The young person in the  gallery had no choice but to wear this t-shirt, but our conversation was  nonetheless authentic and engaged, even to the extent of overflowing  our assigned roles – maybe even resisting them.) The point is that  attempts to mould our identities through language and naming take  political work, and may be contested. In the 1950s the adjective  ‘public’ (worker, sector, sphere) designated something to be respected  and relied upon. It had, if only vaguely, something to do with our  collectivity. It took a labour of persistent denigration of ‘the public’  to turn things around. And that labour has been crucial to the ability  to pursue the economic strategies we are currently enduring. ‘Equality’  too was once a term to be used with unquestioned positivity; under New  Labour the very word became unsayable. And so on.

The vocabulary we use, to talk about the  economy in particular, has been crucial to the establishment of  neoliberal hegemony. There is a whole world view – and economic theory –  behind that meeting in the gallery. It is one in which the majority of  us are primarily consumers, whose prime duty (and source of power and pleasure) is to make choices.

The so-called truth underpinning this  change of descriptions – which has been brought about in everyday life  through managerial instruction and the thoroughgoing renaming of  institutional practices in their allowed forms of writing, address and  speech – is that, in the end, individual interests are the only reality  that matters; that those interests are purely monetary; and that  so-called values are only a means of pursuing selfish ends by other  means. And behind this in turn, the theoretical justification of this  now nearly-dominant system is the idea of a world of independent agents  whose choices, made for their own advantage, paradoxically benefit all. Moreover, for this to ‘work’ no individual agent can have sufficient  power to determine what happens to the whole.

That the world is not like that is  evident. There are monopolies and vastly differential powers. There is  far more to life than individual self interest. Markets in practice need  vast apparatuses of regulation, propping-up and policing – a  ‘bureaucracy’ indeed. Moreover, this privileging of self interest,  market relations and choice in each sphere of economic and social life  leads inexorably to increased inequality. And this now glaring  inequality (globally as well as intranationally) is protected from  political contest by another shift in our vocabulary. Every liberal  democratic society needs to negotiate some kind of articulation between  the liberal tradition and the democratic tradition. In our present  society that articulation is quite specific: ‘liberty’ has come to be  defined simply as self interest and freedom from restraint by the state,  and that reduced form of liberty has become so much the dominant term  that the resultant inequalities have eviscerated democracy, and the  vocabulary of equality has been obscured from view. Much has been  written elsewhere about all these things.

Our argument here is that this  vocabulary of customer, consumer, choice, markets and self interest  moulds both our conception of ourselves and our understanding of and  relationship to the world. These ‘descriptions’ of roles, exchanges and  relationships in terms of a presumption that individual choice and self  interest does and should prevail are in fact not simply descriptions but  a powerful means by which new subjectivities are constructed and  enforced. Gramsci’s understanding of the significance of ‘common sense’,  Althusser’s theory of ideological state apparatuses and the  ‘interpellation’ of subjects, and Foucault’s descriptions of discourses  as aspects of ‘governmentality’ are theoretical resources through which  these phenomena can be recognised and understood.

The new dominant ideology is inculcated  through social practices, as well as through prevailing names and  descriptions. The mandatory exercise of ‘free choice’ – of a GP, of a  hospital to which to be referred, of schools for one’s children, of a  form of treatment – is, whatever its particular value, also a lesson in  social identity, affirming on each occasion that one is above all a  consumer, functioning in a market.

By such means we are enrolled, such  self-identification being just as strong as our material entanglement in  debt, pensions, mortgages and the like. It is an internalisation of  ‘the system’ that can potentially corrode our ability to imagine that  things could be otherwise.

This question of identity and  identification, moreover, goes beyond our individual subjectivities.  Everything begins to be imagined in this way. The very towns and cities  we live in are branded in order to contend against each other, including  internationally, in a world in which the only relationships are ones of  competition.

So, the vocabularies which have  reclassified roles, identities and relationships – of people, places and  institutions – and the practices which enact them embody and enforce  the ideology of neoliberalism, and thus a new capitalist hegemony.  Another set of vocabularies provides the terms through which the system  describes itself and its functions. These frame the categories – for  example of production, consumption, land, labour, capital, wealth –  through which the ‘economy’ (as a supposedly distinct and autonomous  sphere of life) is understood. These definitions constitute another  element of ‘common sense’ – about the way the economic world ‘naturally’ is and must remain.

The names of the system

What are the key terms in this system of definitions, and how do they work? Here it is useful to think about bundles of ideas.

There is, for instance, a bundle around  wealth, output, growth and work. The economic system is assumed to be  about what we call wealth creation, and the achievement of ‘growth’.  Growth is measured by the increase in ‘gross national product’, which is  an aggregated sum of everything produced in the economy, whether made  within the private or public sectors. It is usually cited as a  percentage rate of change, often on an annual basis. The dominant  conception is that it is the well-being of individuals and society alike  (in so far as these are clearly distinguished as values or entities)  that is denoted by these terms. Apart from the ongoing debate about  anomalies in how these things are measured, there has also been, thanks  to the achievements of social democracy, some recognition that increases  in aggregate wealth are by themselves an insufficient measure of  well-being, given that the fruits of growth are not distributed equally.  But social democrats have traditionally confined their ambitions to  altering the balance of distributions – between what is called the  private and the public, the market and the state systems – while not  seriously questioning the dominant architecture of the system.

We argue that this dominant architecture  now needs to be called in question. The whole vocabulary we use to talk  about the economy, while presented as a description of the natural and  the eternal, is in fact a political construction that needs contesting.

Let us focus for a moment on the example  of growth, currently deemed to be the entire aim of our economy. To  produce growth and then (maybe) to redistribute some of it has been a  goal shared by neoliberalism and social democracy. But this approach  must now be questioned. Why?

In the first place, there is what might  be seen as a technical problem – at least for the social democratic  argument that growth allows mitigation of inequality through  redistribution. In the case of the British economy and probably more  widely, there is in the immediate future likely to be insufficient  growth to enable the degree of redistribution desired by a progressive  agenda (or at least not without major political confrontation). A return  to the redistributive model of social democracy of decades past is  therefore impossible. This model, in its crudest formulation, entailed  providing the conditions for the market sector to produce growth and to  accept that this would result in inequality (though it should also be  noted that different models of growth produce different degrees of  inequality – the model we have in the UK at the moment being acutely  inegalitarian). The role of the state was then, through taxation, the  provision of public services and so on, to redistribute some portion of  this growth in order to help repair the inequality resulting from its  production.

This is anyway a bizarre arrangement. It  institutes a curious sequentialism – first produce a problem, then try  to solve it. (Why produce the problem – inequality – in the first  place?) This does nothing to question the inequality-producing  mechanisms of market exchange (though of course some restraints have  been introduced). Indeed, this arrangement has meant that the main lines  of struggle are focused on distributional issues, rather than the  nature of the system. Moreover, the very success of even this restricted  distributional struggle was one of the reasons for the breakdown of the  arrangement. As we pointed out in our framing statement for the Kilburn  Manifesto, the gains made by labour under social democracy proved  intolerable to capital and a backlash was launched. Even mere  redistribution could only be allowed to go so far. And one crucial  element in that neoliberal backlash was the dislodging of the common  sense which underpinned these aspects of the social democratic approach –  in particular the commitment to (a measure of) equality and the  important role of the state and public intervention – and indeed the  very notion of the public – in achieving this. Changing our economic  language was crucial in shifting our world-view.

The fact that the neoliberal successor  to this social democratic model has now run into its own crises provides  an opportunity for a new imagining. As already said, rates of growth  are likely to be insufficient to reinstate the previous arrangements.  Moreover the whole ideological and political – and discursive – climate  has changed so much that a return to the previous model would be  difficult to pull off. It would in fact be no greater a task to argue  for a new model altogether – one in which the workings of the economy  did not in the first place produce a level of inequality that demanded  subsequent correction. Certainly it would involve a more thoroughgoing,  and popular, critique of market forces as producers of inequality. It  would also mean arguing again for the vocabulary, and politics, of  equality. Some new vocabulary is indeed already emerging – though not  the most easy on the ear or on popular imaginings – ‘predistribution’.  The word may be awkward, but if it is pointing to the need to design a  system of production which, in its own very workings, is not productive  of intolerable levels of inequality, then it is on the right track.

A second reason why our current notion  of wealth, and our commitment to its growth, must be questioned –  certainly in the global North – is to do with our relation to the  planet. The environmental damage – in particular but not only through  climate change – brought about by the pursuit of growth threatens to  cause a catastrophe of which we are already witnessing intimations. This  is a global issue in which relatively rich, though unequal, societies  such as the United Kingdom have international responsibilities. The UK  on occasions prides itself on its relative greenness. But to the extent  that there has been any improvement it has resulted from the closure of coal mines (not pursued  for environmental reasons!) and – even more – from the outsourcing of  our manufacturing. If, as we argued in our framing statement, one stimulus to globalisation was capital’s desire to escape the demands of  ‘First World’ labour, then one of its results has been a shift in the  geography of the production of pollution to the global South. China,  among others, now produces goods that would once have been made in the  UK, and which we still need (or anyway want). But the dominant voices  criticise China for its pollution; and official statistics do not even  count the energy used and the environmental damage done, by the  transport across the world to our shores of everything from machinery to  pet food to Christmas decorations. Meanwhile there exists an export  trade in the toxic wastes that we do produce to countries so  impoverished they are prepared to deal with it for us.

Of course much of the change in the  global South derives from the increasing industrialisation and wealth of  a few of its constituent countries. Yet it is argued that in no foreseeable technology could the planet cope with everyone living at the  standards now common in the global North. Who then must change?

Moreover, environmental destruction and  the catastrophes consequent upon climate change will not fall evenly  across the world. Probably such ills will fall most quickly, and most  heavily, on more impoverished places, which in any case have fewer  resources with which to offset such damage. The prospect is a nightmare  of potential famines, forced migrations, social disorganisation and  wars.

Finally, there is perhaps an even deeper  question. We now know that increased wealth, when it is measured in the  standard monetary terms of today, has few actual consequences for  people’s feelings of wellbeing, once there is a sufficiency to meet  basic needs. In pursuing ‘growth’ in these terms, as a means to realise  people’s life-goals and desires, economies pursue a chimera since, while  growth may occur, all the evidence is that our levels of satisfaction  with our lives remain obstinately static. Indeed, insofar as the  dominant model of growth leads to increased inequalities, as it does, we  now know also that it is a prime generator of ill health, crime, and  social suffering, compared with what might be the case in a more equal  and fair society. There is increasing unease with a concept of wealth,  and of gross national product, measured only in monetary terms. It was  widely questioned in particular at that moment of the implosion into  financial crisis, when all the talk was of disaster brought about by  competitive greed. Even David Cameron mused that there was more to life  than GDP. That moment has been lost, but deeper dissatisfactions surely  rumble on. And they cannot be addressed by adding something warm and  cuddly on to the GDP; the problem is structural.

Can we redefine wealth to include riches  that go beyond the individual and the monetary? Might we not ask the  question, in the end, ‘What is an economy for?’ What do we want it to  provide?

We could take this line of questioning,  and its provocation to re-imagining, in many directions – and we hope  that readers will participate in doing so.

‘Work’ is another area within  this cluster of ideas around wealth creation and growth that is in need  of new words and new imaginations. There are many aspects to this. For  instance, and most obviously, there is the question of what counts as  work. Where only transactions for money are recognised as belonging to  ‘the economy’, the vast amount of unpaid labour – as conducted for  instance in families and local areas – goes uncounted. This is a major  gender issue too. Childcare provided in exchange for a wage counts  towards the national income, while childcare provided by parents or  neighbours or grandparents does not. In its Industrial Strategy of the  1980s the Greater London Council found that a substantial proportion of  the labour performed in the capital was unpaid – and this was labour  that was necessary for the social reproduction of the city. This is a  question of recognition, of the way we think of the economy as a part of  society, and of valuing what it takes for a society to be reproduced.

Moreover, beyond even this, we would  like to question that familiar instrumental categorisation of the  economy as a space in which people reluctantly undertake unwelcome and unpleasing ‘work’, in return for material  rewards which they can then consume. Indeed, this view of ‘work’, to be  traded off against ‘leisure’, is required by the neoclassical economic  theory that currently holds sway (as though paid work and leisure is all  of our days, so that the other – unpaid – things that we have, and  want, to do in life thus once again disappear from view). But it is a  view that misunderstands where pleasure and fulfilment in human lives  are in reality found. Work is usually, and certainly should be, not a  liability and a sacrifice, but a central source of meaning  and fulfilment in human lives. This is widely recognised in the anguish  felt when work is absent, for example when, as in many countries today,  up to half the population of young people can find no employment. And  it is seen in the higher rates of sickness and mortality which are  associated statistically with retirement from work. This is in part  because it is through work that people develop and express their  capabilities as human beings. And also because work is a principal way  in which people maintain connections with their worlds, both in  immediate ways (through relations with co-workers or those for whose  well-being work is done) and in more abstract but nevertheless  meaningful terms, such as in making a contribution to the good of  others, which then gives moral sense to the benefits which are obtained  in return. Work, as earlier generations of socialists once understood,  has – or could have – moral and creative (or aesthetic) values at its  core. It is misunderstood by the dominant discourse, in which it is  assigned merely self-regarding and possessive purposes. A rethinking of  this could lead us to address more creatively both the social relations  of work and the division of labour (a better sharing of the tedious  work, and of the skills) within society.

A second bundle of terms that deserves  further attention is that clustered around investment, expenditure and  speculation. It should be noted immediately, for this is crucial to what  follows, that these terms carry with them implicit moral connotations.  Investment implies an action, even a sacrifice, undertaken for a better  future, while speculation (here in the financial rather than  intellectual sense) immediately arouses a sense of mistrust. And while  investment evokes a future positive outcome, expenditure seems merely an  outgoing, a cost, a burden.

Investment and expenditure are  distinguished from each other according to a strict economic rationale, a  distinction required by the way in which the national accounts are set  up. But this distinction is cross-cut in popular parlance and ordinary  political debate by another understanding. Together they produce rich  soil for the construction of political attitudes. Thus, in the national  accounts, investment is money laid out for physical things such as  buildings and infrastructure, while expenditure is money used to pay –  for instance – for the wages of people operating the services for which  the investment provides the physical possibility. So building a new  school is investment, paying the teachers, the administrators and the  dinner ladies is expenditure.

(Pause for a moment, and ponder the gender implications of this distinction.)

This distinction, moreover, is often  cross-cut with another – that between public and private. On this  understanding, money advanced by a private firm to further its  profit-making intentions is seen as a worthwhile investment, while money  advanced by the state, whether for infrastructure or for employment in  schools or the health service, is seen as only increasing the deficit,  because it is paid for out of taxation. The political effect of the  combining of these definitions is devastating. Thus, for instance, while  building new houses or railways through taxation may be seen as  investment by the first distinction, paying for doctors, social-service  workers, teachers, nurses, streetcleaners, dinner ladies – when this is  done by the public purse – is seen on both definitions as merely a cost.  Paying for them through taxation, therefore, emphatically carries the  connotation of being simply a burden. But if we return to that question  ‘what is an economy for?’, and if we answer that it has something to do  with the reproduction of a society, then this vocabulary is misleading  (to say the least). Education is equally then an investment, generating  the capacities on which a society depends. Likewise, the provision of  health and social services more generally is one of the most valuable  and essential forms of production and investment there can be.

And crucial to maintaining these things  within the public sector (thus taking on the second distinction, between  public and private) is challenging the persistent characterisation of  taxation as a negative thing. ‘Everyone hates paying taxes don’t they?’  But people lay out money in the market sector seemingly without a second  thought, including for things they could perfectly well get through the  state, and it seems not to incur such opprobrium. Private transactions –  OK; taxation for social investment and services – almost  universally resented. What is in contention here is social solidarity;  the knee-jerk language reflects – and reinforces – the prioritisation of  individual choice over collectivity, over the very notion of (the  construction of) a society. Words and oft-repeated phrases carry, and  reinforce, understandings that go well beyond them.

These questionings of our vocabularies are perhaps obvious. But we need to argue them. The existing vocabulary  is one of the roots of the elite’s ability to maintain the horrible  straitjacket we are in.

Moreover, there is one distinction we should be making a lot more strongly: that between investment and speculation.  Or, perhaps more properly put, between value creation and value  extraction. The term ‘investment’ is widely used in the media for both  activities. So when businesses put money into plant and machinery, or  research or staff development, it is called investment. And when finance  is put into buying something that already exists (an asset) – commodity  futures, fine wines, already-existing property … – that is also  called, conventionally, investment. But in the first type of case the  money goes into a process of value creation; in the second there is no  such process – the ‘investor’ just holds the asset in the hope that the  price will rise, and then will sell it at a profit. This is, on other  occasions, called speculation. It is not the creation of value but the  extraction of value from the pool that already exists. Its effect,  therefore, is not the expansion of the pool but its redistribution,  towards (if prices rise) those who purchase the assets.

The above is a very rough and ready distinction, and the difference is  anyway not absolute, but the broad contrast is important for us  to address at this moment because much of what lies behind the  recent decades of neoliberalism, in addition to the predation of the  public sector by the private, is this buying and selling of  already-existing assets, and indeed the creation of new ones in which to  speculate – derivatives and various forms of the commodification of  risk, carbon futures.

Again we can take this further. For the  obfuscation of the difference between value creation and value  extraction helps obscure another one: that between earned and unearned income.  As Andrew Sayer wryly observes, ‘Interestingly, [this is a distinction  that] has fallen out of use just when unearned income has expanded’.2  Unearned income derives, not from participation in the production of  goods and services (value creation) but from controlling an  already-existing asset. And it is the latter that has formed the  economic basis of the rise, under neoliberalism, of the super-rich. It  has not been as a result of participation in production that they have  gained their wealth. (The idea that the City is a centre of  wealth-creation is thus bizarre – it is more a centre of a system of  wealth-extraction that spans the world.) In this sense much of the new  economic elite is parasitic, extracting value from the rest of society.  They are ‘rentiers’ – here too we need to reclaim and revitalise our  vocabulary. And many in the upper-middle strata of rich societies have  been drawn into this as well – through house-price rises (unearned, and  in the UK greatly exacerbating not only general inequality but also the  North-South divide), and through pensions (invested in secondary  share-markets). And so material interest melds with misleading economic  vocabulary to further the transformation of common sense, to fortify a  financialised ideology, and to pacify many into at least acquiescence if  not enthusiasm.

The results of all of this have included  a massive redistribution from poor to rich, a significant contribution  to a rise in food prices and malnutrition around the world, property  booms, the underpinning of a new financial imperialism and, of course,  instability and crash, with their repercussions around the world, as the  speculative bubbles burst. Moreover this extraction of value has  reduced the ability of the rest of the economy to pursue value creation.  And we should note that the City of London, seen as the centrepiece of  the UK economy, was a prime mover in all of this.

These are important economic, and  political, distinctions. The rise in the significance of the trading of  assets has been central to the financialisation of national and global  economies. It relates too to that erasure of activities other than those  of exchange – whether that be creating goods and services, being  passengers on a train, or visiting an art gallery. All that is necessary  in this (their) world is to buy and to sell. The naturalisation of  this, through financialisation, as the essential nature of economic  activity, has thus been a crucial element in the establishing of a new  common sense. Indeed, as Mariana Mazzucato has argued, ‘the battle  against the excesses of the financial sector will remain lost without a  theory able to distinguish when profits move from being a result of  value creation, to [being] … a result of value extraction’.3

The (supposed) naturalness of markets

Underpinning the apparent common sense  of these elements of our economic vocabulary (and there are many more)  is the understanding that markets are natural: that as either external  to society or inherent in ‘human nature’, they are a pre-given force.  The assumption is all around us. There is the language that is used to  describe the financial markets as they roam Europe attacking country  after country – an external force, a wild beast maybe, certainly not the  product of particular social strata and their economic and political  interests. There is the understanding of ‘human nature’ and of the long  histories of human societies as ‘naturally’ – as part of their very  nature – given to market trading (and that therefore markets are the  best way of organising societies) – an understanding beautifully  demolished by Karl Polanyi in The Great Transformation as long ago as 1944, but still living on as an effective underpinning of political discourse.

There is that shrug of resignation and  powerlessness by ordinary folk as something happens that they do not  like: ‘well, it’s the market I suppose, isn’t it’.

A ‘thing’ one cannot gainsay. There is  the idea that we ‘intervene’ (social action) into the economy (equated  with the market and seen as an external nature). There is, within the  academy itself, the pretension on the part of neoclassical economics to  be a natural, or physical, science, rather than a social science. The  degree to which these ideas, this ideological scaffolding, currently  infuse the hegemonic common sense is astonishing. The assumption  that markets are natural is so deeply rooted in the structure of  thought, certainly here in Europe, that even the fact that it is an  assumption seems to have been lost to view. This is real hegemony.

And it has effects. It removes ‘the  economic’ from the sphere of political and ideological contestation. It  turns it into a matter for experts and technocrats. It removes the  economy from democratic control.

This assumption of the naturalness of  markets is crucial to the insistence that There Is No Alternative. It is  one of the ghastly ironies of the present neoliberal age that we are  told (as we saw at the outset of this argument) that much of our power  and our pleasure, and our very self-identification, lies in our ability  to choose (and we are indeed bombarded every day by ‘choices’, many of  them meaningless, others we wish we didn’t have to make), while at the  level that really matters – what kind of society we’d like to live in,  what kind of future we’d like to build – we are told, implacably, that,  give or take a few minor variations, there is no alternative – no choice  at all.

At the international level too the same  kind of language is deployed, aiming for the same effects. Thus, that  common-sense sequence of ‘underdeveloped – developing – developed’  places ‘developing’ countries behind ‘developed’ ones, in some kind of  historical queue, rather than as co-existing in their differences. It  thereby – and not coincidentally – obscures the many ways in which the  ‘developed’ countries restrict the potential of the so-called developing  (the power relations within neoliberal globalisation for instance) and  implies that there is only one possible historical path, which all must  follow.

We are not arguing that there is no  place for markets in a reformed economy. What we are challenging is the  special status our current imaginings endow them with. We should be  thinking of ‘the economy’ not in terms of natural force and intervention  but in terms of a whole variety of social relations that need some kind  of coordination. Each form of social relation has its own  characteristics and implications, and thus appropriateness to different  parts of the economy and society.

Above all, we need to bring ‘the  economic’ back into society and into political contention, and not just  as debates about economic policy, but questioning also the very way we think about the economy in the first place.

Without doing this we shall find  ourselves always arguing on the political terrain of existing economic  policy. For something new to be  imagined, let alone to be born, our  current economic ‘common sense’ needs to be challenged root and branch.

Thanks to Sue Himmelweit for talking some of these issues through with me.

This article was the first instalment of five published as part of ‘After Neoliberalism? The Kilburn Manifesto’ in Soundings Journal of Politics and Culture in 2013. It is republished here with the permission of the author.


1. Subsequent Instalments Of The Manifesto Will Develop Thoughts About Economic Strategy.

2. A. Sayer, ‘facing The Challenge Of  The Return Of The Rich’, In W. Atkinson, S. Roberts And M. Savage (Eds),  Class Inequality In Austerity Britain, Palgrave Macmillan 2012.

3. Mariana Mazzucato, ‘from Bubble To Bubble’, Guardian, 16.1.13. 

All by
Nikita Simpson