As capitalism stares into the pit it has dug for itself and us, it still has time to twist language. “Austerity”, for example, should involve some kind of stern self-disciplined sobriety, but those imposing it are sparing themselves.
The main targets of this so-called austerity are not the bankers or the tax havens and tax avoiders, not the boardroom Billy Bunters gobbling up vast “remuneration” (for what?), not the new scum landlords. The recipients are all the rest of us, but in particular the old, the ill and the young.
The rulers of Britain have particular scorn for the young. They have drowned them in vitriol, surrounded them with ASBOs, turned their schools into obstacle courses to please OFSTED, attacked future pension rights, loaded them with debt mountains for a university education – and most importantly, denied them a future. Over a million people between the ages of 16 and 24 are registered as out of work, excluded from making a productive contribution to society.
In the real world there are almost no paid jobs around. Government policies are forcing older people to work longer before a (meagre) pension, reducing the number of vacancies still further. “Internships” have spread out of their strongholds in fashion and publishing into definitely non-creative retail. Now job centres are forcing young people to work for nothing for up to two months, stacking shelves in Poundstretcher or Tesco, or lose their benefit. That’s not austerity, that’s slavery. ■