A crash course on the economic crisis

A new initiative, the 'Economic Justice Project', invites you to learn about the history of the financial crisis along with other concerned citizens, campaigners and activists.

“Crash! The financial crisis and what to do about it” is a free event taking place on Saturday 24th November at the Main Building of Aston University, Birmingham. 

On Saturday 24th November economic justice campaigners will come together to learn about the history of the financial crisis and its impacts on social justice, and to build links between those focusing on domestic issues including anti-cuts groups, and international issues including global justice groups like Jubilee Debt Campaign and Christian Aid. 

This event forms part of the wider 'Economic Justice Project' which got underway in July this year. The project is supported by a range of organisations from anti-cuts groups like False Economy, to established global justice organisations including Jubilee Debt Campaign, War on Want, Trade Justice Movement, People & Planet, World Development Movement and others. 

These groups have been brought together by a shared understanding of the current financial crisis in Europe as part of a wider historical pattern of repeated debt crises which has continued since the end of the Bretton Woods system and the widening financial deregulation beginning in the 1970s. This financial system, wracked by crisis, lies at the root of many of the different issues that our organisations work on.

The austerity policies which caused outrage on the streets of Greece last week do not look so different in form to the structural adjustment programmes that were imposed on impoverished countries labouring under huge debts in the 1980s. Similar concerns have been raised about the lack of democratic mandate for these policies. These previous crises, and the popular movements that formed around them, have a lot to teach us as we face austerity and its impacts closer to home.

Despite knowing that economic decisions have a huge impact on inequality and poverty here and around the world, many who care about social justice still find talking about the economy confusing at best, and unbearably boring at worst. Through the Economic Justice Project we hope people will overcome this and gain a political understanding of the financial crisis and its history that can ultimately strengthen the movement for economic justice in the UK. 

Understanding who has suffered, and who has gained from these policies over the last forty years,   helps us to understand the political motivations for austerity and dismantle the claim that there is no viable economic alternative. As Ha-Joon Chang quips in his article,  “Perhaps [our politicians] are insane – if we follow Albert Einstein's definition of insanity as 'doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results'”, but it is more likely that they are protecting the same elite interests that these policies have always protected.” 

As well as events like the Birmingham event on 24th November, we've also set up the Econo...what? reading group which you can take part in as an individual online, or in a group in your area.  Other events and resources are being created as I write, you can keep up to date with the project by emailing me at maddy@jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk

Maddy Evans is Activism Office for Jubilee Debt Campaign, and co-coordinator of the Economic Justice Project.