15: The New Putney Debates 2014 Concentrated Power and Consequences

- Report Critical Thinking workshop on Tuesday 28th October 2014 at the LSE Student Union



Thanks to the organisers of The New Putney Debates, the LSE Student Union for providing the venue, the crowdfunders who contributed to the room hire (see Appendix II) and to Ray Sheath who arranged and underwrote the cost of the venue for the workshop.

Critical Thinking draws on contributions from many individuals and groups, bringing together information and analysis from a wide variety of sources, both contemporary and historic. This workshop is to discuss and consider the issue of concentrated power and its consequences in the context of Critical Thinking’s model of the Political Economy:

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Breakout Session

The workshop started with a 10 minute breakout into groups of 4 to 6 participants to agree between them, the most critical/significant challenges facing us. The following issues were recorded across the groups:
Unaccountable elites
Regulatory Arbitrage
Why can’t all the poor people travel to the money? – inequality in movement
Monetary profit over need/value
Ecological collapse (massive loss of species, climate change)
The monetary system
The base philosophies of society
Capitalisation of resources
Subjective information
Habitual greed – government lying
The gap: rich-poor
Non-influenced – information subjectivity
Control of consciousness

In view overlap and common themes running through those listed above we addressed multiple challenges under the following headings:
1. Inequality
2. Information
3. Unaccountable elites - ruling clique (RC)

The following weren’t discussed but are addressed in Appendix I:
The monetary system
Ecological collapse
Capitalisation of resources (and land)
Corruption and greed (Habitual greed – government lying)
Regulatory arbitrage
The base philosophies of society - Monetary profit over need/value

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1. Inequality

What are the levers of power driving inequality?

Margrit Kennedy’s Interest and Inflation Free Money1 shows how interest on money is a major driver because it allows those with more money than they need to exploit those who need it.

Land is another driver: landlords derive increasing rents from those who need access to land and have to pay those higher rents. Land subsidies and housing benefits end up in landlords’ pockets. Owner occupiers garner unearned wealth from house price inflation while those who rent do not but pay ever increasing rents.

The weak bargaining position of employees (the means to life is conditional on paid employment; so unless you have land or money, you need a job, any job, to survive) increases profits for capital owners at the expense of labour. Labour is valued according to supply and demand, while technology has reduced demand for labour – thus labour isn’t valued according to the wealth it creates but is discounted due to excess supply – another driver of inequality.

Minority control of land, money and labour (ie. wages) are the fundamental, systemic drivers of inequality.

These drivers are exacerbated by absence of laws to limit inequality while law reinforces inequality as does the regressive tax system.


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Money drives politics while the shareholder system of joint stock companies reinforces the position of the ruling clique (RC)2 which dictates the political agenda. Those opposing the corporate agenda have no power, leading to even greater inequality – exemplified by negotiation of so called “free trade agreements”, such as TTIP3, CETA, TPP. NAFTA and TiSA, in which corporate interests trump the interests of people and the environment.

Gender inequality is embedded in the Political Economy, reinforced by male inheritance and lack of reward or economic recognition for women’s essential contribution to society.

The tiered education system creates a surfeit of “worker drones” ensuring an excess supply of labour driving down demand for workers and hence wages.
The culture of charitable giving reinforces the acceptance of inequality, assuaging the guilt of the giver while ensuring the poor see themselves as supplicants, grateful for what others deign to give them from their often undeserved (and unearned) surplus.

Values in society have been distorted through conditioning4; people aspire to riches and celebrity – media, culture and education drive values in society. People are encouraged and incentivised to compete and develop hostility to others, such as immigrants, “benefits cheats” or on the basis of religion, colour, ethnicity or employment status. It is by manipulating these divisions that voters are encouraged to support policies driving inequality, even though they may wish for greater equality.

The reality of inequality is so embedded that it is difficult to imagine what equality would look like, making us believe real equality is an unattainable Utopian vision.


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