This book describes the explosion of debt across the global economy and related requirement of political leaders to pursue exponential growth to meet the demands of creditors and investors. It presents a historical account of the modern origins of capitalist debt by looking at how commercial money is produced as debt in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The book identifies the ways in which the control, production, and distribution of money, as interest-bearing debt, are used to discipline populations. It focuses on the histories of the development of the Bank of England and the establishment of permanent national debt with the intensification and expansion of debt, as a "technology of power", under colonialism in a global context. The book investigates the modern origins of debt as a technology of power by focusing on war, the creation of the "national" debt, and the capitalization of the organized force of the state. It addresses the consequences of modern regimes of debt and puts forward proposals of what needs to be done, politically, to reverse the problems generated by debt-based economies. The book utilizes the term "intensification" rather than spread or proliferation to think about both the amplification and spatial expansion of debt as a technology of power during the era of European colonialism and resistance. Finally, it also presents a convincing case for the 99" to use the power of debt to challenge present inequalities and outlines a platform for action suggesting possible alternatives.
how debt became capitalized by
organized power and find its genealogy rooted in war, the national
debt, and the capitalized state of England.
Money, war, and debt before the BankofEngland
While the social relations of credit and debt existed long before the
emergence of capitalism, and money has taken many forms historically,
we are interested in how debt became a technology of organized and
capitalized power (Weatherford 1997; Davies 2002; Graeber 2011). The
key development occurs with the creation of the BankofEngland in
1694 and the innovation of a funded
crisis occasioned a great deal of concern on the part of the President,
given the possibility that sterling might have to be devalued or that any
rise in the BankofEngland lending rate could precipitate a run on the
dollar. There was also concern about the Multilateral Force (MLF), a matter
due to be discussed at the planned summit meeting in Washington early in
December. The MLF was a US-sponsored plan to create a mixed-manned NATO
the BankofEngland) to resist the claims of private individuals and the
working class. Alienated from a sense of inclusion in the invisible
product of his employers, the BankofEngland, Holland seeks to reward
his ‘worth’ in their terms. In order to achieve the theft of
their invisible product, he has to conspire with Pendlebury, a maker of
visible products. Morality asserts itself as the robbers are caught by
There is a fear among Conservatives that the BankofEngland is too limited in
its function of setting interest rates to control inflation. They believe it should
have a wider role in controlling economic factors, including foreign exchange
rates of sterling.
The Conservatives remain more determined than Labour to reduce the overall
burden of taxation, even if this may mean reductions in spending on public
services in the short run.
Where public services are seen to be failing, Conservatives generally favour
outright privatisation, whereas New Labour prefers
England and the permanent national debt that
stretched English money beyond the limitations of gold and silver
coinage. The move also anchored the emergence of an international
credit system based on sterling and the capitalization of colonialism.
The new paper currency issues remained linked to a metallic substance
during this period, but the tether was extended so that the value of
paper notes in circulation was never fully backed by the metallic horde
at the BankofEngland and other provincial banks that would spring
up during the Industrial Revolution. With varying
Between political controversy and administrative efficiency
Kenneth A. Armstrong and Simon Bulmer
similar planned development to take effect there.
All these departments and ministers are engaged in the preparation of
policy. There will be consultation of other agencies outside the departmental structure of government as the need arises. The BankofEngland
is an obvious case in point in respect of EMU. It was granted autonomy
by Chancellor Gordon Brown in 1997; however, this decision was
presented much more as a decision designed to facilitate a sound monetary policy. The move does, of course, have implications for joining the
single currency. UK
businesses, often in the guise of
either employment or environmental protection. Hague’s Conservatives also
lamented the high value of sterling, which was rendering British exports
uncompetitive, yet it was difficult for Conservative critics to proffer credible
alternatives in these areas. Quite apart from the fact that interest rates were
now set by the (independent) BankofEngland’s Monetary Policy Committee,
the Conservatives themselves had relied heavily on interest rates as a central
tool of macro-economic strategy, with the rate often considerably higher than
international money markets. In its simplest terms, this meant that holders of sterling
began to offload the currency, and the price of sterling began to plummet.
A strained partnership?
Thus, those holding sterling deposits were seeing the value of their investment fall and this increased the likelihood that they too would look to offload
their deposits. The BankofEngland responded to this by purchasing sterling;
it was believed that this would provide a demonstrable sign of confidence in
protecting their property. Populist positions on
Europe and asylum brought additional media coverage but few newspaper
endorsements. A number of policy changes followed Portillo’s appointment
as Shadow Chancellor: the ‘Tax Guarantee’ was watered down while BankofEngland independence and the minimum wage were accepted.
This division of the 1997–2001 period conveys the main trends in policy
and tactics, but caution is required. One should not exaggerate the divergence
between the phases nor ignore developments that do not fit comfortably with
a shift to the right. Thus the