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No ‘hope among the ruins’ unless a government has the public interest at heart

February 20, 2015

There are many beneficial structures, but unless they profit those in power, will they be introduced?

George Monbiot 3George Monbiot’s interest in monetary reform was evident over 25 years ago when meetings on this subject were being organised in the Commons, and later in the Lords, by Sabine McNeill. He returns to the subject in the Guardian, seeing ‘Hope Among the Ruins’.

Describing private banks as ‘the new colonial masters’ and governments as merely the intermediaries of power, he examines alternatives:

  • One was proposed a few months ago by Martin Wolf in the Financial Times as noted on this site three times last year. He suggested that the state could assert a monopoly on money creation.
  • Ann Pettifor, in her book Just Money, suggests that governments should reassert control over interest rates at every level of lending.
  • The third is a transformation at the local level: stamp scrip. Developed by economist Silvio Gesell, the currency lost value every month so was spent promptly.


Then, yet again, the story of its success in Wörgl was repeated and the fact that the governments of Germany and Austria, threatened by the success of these projects, shut them down – and employment collapsed once more.

Monbiot notes that American economist Irving Fisher concluded that “the correct application of stamp scrip would solve the depression crisis in the US in three weeks!”, but adds “Roosevelt’s government, aware that such currencies could invoke a massive loss of federal power, promptly banned it”. He finally asks:

“Could these ideas be useful to Greece? Could they be of relevance in other parts of Europe? Even perhaps in Scotland, where the currency issue was unimaginatively fudged before the referendum?”

He fails, however, to address the clearly stated and – to date – insurmountable obstacle: lack of political will, aka sabotage by governments ‘of the rich, by the rich, for the rich’ as John Wight puts it.  

One Comment
  1. February 20, 2015 7:08 pm

    Ken Palmerton (CCMJ librarian) by email:

    What a fabulous article by Monbiot.

    Though as always there are mistakes in the tiny details.

    It was not the Government of Austria, or the Government of Bavaria that shut down the efforts of Worgle or Swannenkirchen, but their respective central banks. They claimed that the respective councils were breaching their, the banks, monopolies.

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