Austerity doesn’t work and yet people keep applying it, saying the bitter medicine that killed the last fifteen patients is somehow good for you. I often think of Leo Tolstoy at these times. He said:
This wonderful blindness which befalls people of our circle can only be explained by the fact that when people behave badly they always invent a philosophy of life which represents their bad actions to be not bad actions at all, but merely results of unalterable laws beyond their control.
In former times such a view of life was found in the theory that an inscrutable and unalterable will of God existed which foreordained to some men a humble position and hard work and to others an exalted position and the enjoyment of the good things of life.
Austerity is a zombie form of economics, known to be destructive since the Great Depression, having cut a swathe of misery across South America, having devastated Russia, and yet economists keep trotting it out like it makes most imminent sense.
As Leo said, this zombie economics is a modern religion, obscure incantations chanted by priests while the ruling class takes your grain. Same shit, different day.
For a sense of what venal god I’m trying to dethrone here, I’ll use Isabella Weber’s definition of shock therapy (or the Washington Consensus).
Since the Great Depression, white people have known that you need to spend your way of capitalist crises or the engine completely stalls. Anytime they create a crisis they stimulus themselves hard. But they always recommend bitter austerity for the ‘developing’ world. This is the logic of shock therapy:
For a sense of how these thunderbolts are still being thrown at the poor, look at the ‘usual’ IMF program for Sri Lanka (we have been 16 times before).