24 November 2010

Money on the Move

It would be nice to portray David Malone as an Everyman, stumbling disbelieving through the financial crisis and documenting his rising confusion, frustration and rage. To an extent this is true: he may be a leading documentary film-maker but when it comes to credit-default swaps and fractional reserve banking, we have almost all been brought to the same level of ignorance and disbelief.

Malone's book The Debt Generation is a positive response. From the summer of 2008, when he first glimpsed the 'Mad Max Future' he kept a regular diary of the news of financial mayhem. The book is humorous, but there are few belly-laughs. However, the very personal nature of the account is its main strength. We all took the same journey from a sunny summer, through an incredible autumn and on to the coninuing winter of our discontent. The difference is that David Malone kept a regular record, and in the era of ephemeral information this is invaluable.

Here is an extract from February 2009:

'Now here is a surprise. Jean-Claude Trichet, the head of the European Central Bank, has just declared, 'We live in non-linear times' . . . Our leaders and economic masters are linear recidivists. They still think of the economy as if it were a machine that has broken down. . . They imagine all they need to do is pour in lots of lubricating money, replace a few bent and busted parts, then press the big green GO button and the machine will roar back to life.' (p. 79)

Malone concludes that the financial system - indeed the whole economy - is a system. The problem we have is systemic and only systemic change can fix it. As crises pile up the wisdom of this position becomes clearer by the day.

In a world where community has broken down and mutual aid is, for most, no more real than the legend of King Arthur, all we have to rely on is our money. This is the message of capitalist invididualism: your money will make you happy; your money will keep you safe. This is why the financial crisis is so pointedly and destructively frightening and why people are losing their heads. Some are reacting with anger, others with despair, while the majority resort to denial, analgesia and shopping.

For those of us who are keeping our heads there are a rising number of campaigns for a new type of banking system, new money, or a whole new economic system. You can find out more about David Malone's work at The Debt Generation website. Positive Money is a campaign growing out from the New Economics Foundation. There is even a Bill that has been introduced in parliament which you can ask your MP to support.

1 comment:

  1. Molly,
    Thanks ever so much for spending the time to read, and then review, the book. I'm really glad you liked it and really appreciate you telling others about it.
    Mark (Editor of The Debt Generation)