A meeting here in Norwich recently reminded me of how much we have to be grateful for in this little island nation. A South American visitor told me of how in her society to be stopped by a policeman for a traffic offence necessarily means to be asked for a bribe. When she came to this country and bought a motorcycle she was largely ignorant of the traffic laws and confessed to perhaps being a little cavalier, yet in the numerous times when she was stopped by the police, they were invariably correct, courteous and honest; a bribe was never solicited and almost always there was a gentle caution.
So in that context, we do not see the appalling story of the discovery by police of a large number of people living in actual slavery, some of whom are said to have endured it for fifteen years, as representing something innately wrong in British character or society. But it is certainly something that ought to set our alarm bells ringing. These men, who probably represent merely the tip of an iceberg of men and women, fell off the bottom of the ladder which most other people are so intent on climbing, and unfortunately there is an entire world down there that most of us cannot imagine. What we are seeing is the return of something quite abhorrent: debt peonage, and it is coming to a lot of us quicker than we realise. Although these specific people are not enslaved simply because of debt, yet their situation is the result of the exponential growth of debt in our time.
There are two classic routes to slavery: war and debt. Warfare, needs little comment and the modern refugee lives in conditions which are often more appalling than traditional slavery. But as to debt, in the ancient world a man became a slave to his creditor when he couldn’t repay his debts to him, and indeed, often, so did his wife and children. We now live in an age which has licensed an élite the right to lend money – in this case numbers written on bits of paper if we are lucky but more often than not nothing a great deal more sophisticated than book-keeping entries. It is ‘fiat’ money since fiat comes from the Latin and means ‘let it be done’ as in fiat lux ‘let there be light’. Then from such inauspicious beginnings said élite leverage that entirely fictitious sum of money by many multiples, then lend the leveraged money to us, the seriously strapped man or woman in the street, at rates of interest that are directly proportional to our state of need: for bankers near to 0%, but the rest of us can now actually get loans advertised with APRs of several thousand percent, and that is ‘legal’, something that makes a mockery of law. Thus, that increasing numbers of people are living with unrepayable debts is not surprising, nor that the entire monetary order of the European Union and the US teeters on the edge of oblivion.
In this dire situation, there is no doubt that this episode is just the tip of the iceberg and that in the immediate future we are going to see it happening to a greater and greater extent all around us, to people whom we never expected it to happen to. Why is that? Because, by the mathematical logic of usury, the growth of debt is rapidly moving onto the steep part of the exponential curve. Usury debt is never repayable because it increases the total amount of money owed by society in general beyond the actual amount of money and wealth in circulation, but when the increase is exponential that becomes evident much more swiftly. We are inexorably moving towards not a ‘Prison Planet’ but a slave-camp planet.
Thus, we must touch on the story of the Vicker’s report on banking and the famous ‘ring-fencing’, if only tangentially. It would be laughable, if weeping were not the more appropriate response. Can you ring-fence the Titanic? The point is that you ought not to board the Titanic, but if foolishly you have done so, then you get off it as soon as you can, because nothing is going to stop it in its inexorable plunge to the bottom.
Although we stare disaster in the face, there is no particular reason why we need to. Money is simply a means for people to exchange, share and distribute those things that we need on a daily basis. All the things we need actually do exist, there is food and water enough for everyone. People have all the contributions to make which would allow them to exchange their bit for someone else’s bit given the necessary ‘medium of exchange’. But we have an entirely irrational monetary system that is designed to enrich a small coterie of people for no merit of their own while impoverishing catastrophic numbers of others to an obscene degree.
Turn over any stone of disorder and corruption today – from global warming to the devastation of the eco-system to child prostitution – and you will find the creepy-crawlies of usury finance scurrying away to hide in some dark corner. It is really time that sane people stopped collaborating with the Gestapo and joined la Resistance. That means to recognise criminals as criminals even if they have received knighthoods and OBEs and I am not speaking allegorically or metaphorically.