Frugality Against Austerity
I’ve been most impressed by the resilience of the Greeks in resisting and defying the “austerity programme” being imposed upon them by the Troika. More power to them (and to us, too). They may now have to relearn how to live frugally (as we all must eventually), but they have preserved their dignity and their democracy and their proud historical legacy against humiliation and bureaucracy and new forms of financial colonisation and the dismemberment of their national assets.
As you may know, I consider the whole “austerity” policy and programme presently in vogue to be a complete fraud — a disguised plundering of the commonwealth in which public assets are being surreptitiously pillaged under the guise of “deregulation” and “privatisation” or even “public-private partnerships” (ie, P3). It shouldn’t take an Einstein to figure out that behind all this “austerity” charade the public is being fleeced and dispossessed of its common inheritance — perhaps the last exploitable frontier of Late Capitalism. It only needs to be pointed out that despite “austerity”, inequality and “plutonomy” have become even more pronounced than ever into the 1% and the 99%, and that the shrinking middle class (which is usually the backbone of liberal democracy) is occurring as a consequence of the plundering of public assets and infrastructure. If a “middle class” exists at all, it is because of the existence of a commonwealth — public education, utilities, roadways, medicare (in Canada, anyway), etc. Those are things in which everyone has their share, but of which they are now being almost entirely dispossessed and disenfranchised, inclusive of their democracy.
“Austerity” has been the smokescreen behind which this pillaging and plundering by special interests has taken place. Are you still surprised by the market meltdown of 2007-8 and the problem of “too big to fail”, or that a mere 1% of the global population controls virtually all the global wealth? Then you haven’t understood that “austerity” has been a fraud from the beginning — the scheme of a particular elite’s “will to power”, as it were.
Austerity is debt slavery. A thorough analysis of the public debt or deficit in all jurisdictions where “neo-liberalism” has had its way, will undoubtedly show (as recently in France) that the bulk of the debt is “illegitimate” and onerous debt that did nothing and contributed nothing to the commonwealth or public welfare, and has very little if anything to do with people “living beyond their means”, but is the result of confiscation and expropriation of public assets by private interests or by the usual trick of the “externalisation of costs”. Austerity is little more than smoke and mirrors and perception management.
Frugality, or voluntary simplicity, is wisdom and self-restraint, and in some ways the essence of freedom. When your needs are few and simple, your wealth is great. It is certainly not debt slavery. When your needs are many, you always feel poor, needy, insecure and vulnerable. Austerity is not frugality. It belongs to another example of value confusion.
When you live frugally, with few possessions and needs, you will always be surrounded by abundance — by more than you can possibly use. That is not austerity. It is the exact opposite of austerity.