Yes, Cameron - there's a 3rd recession coming - and you're to blame!

John Wight
John Wight has written for a variety of newspapers and websites, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal.
Yes, Cameron - there's a 3rd recession coming - and you're to blame!
Reading David Cameron’s article in The Guardian on the G20, analyzing why the Eurozone is “teetering on the brink of a third recession” and the world is beset with chaos and instability, you could be forgiven for thinking none of it is his fault.

Welcome to Cameronworld, where unreality rules and someone else is always responsible for economic crisis, wars and deepening poverty.

In the piece, Britain’s Prime Minister warns of a “dangerous backdrop of instability” when it comes to the global economy, citing weak growth in Europe, conflicts around the world, the Ebola crisis in Africa, and a slowdown in Asia as the factors responsible.

Under the rather apocalyptic title, “Red lights are flashing on the global economy,” Cameron writes, “As I met world leaders at the G20 in Brisbane, the problems were plain to see. The eurozone is teetering on the brink of a possible third recession, with high unemployment, falling growth and the real risk of falling prices too…the epidemic of Ebola, conflict in the Middle East and Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine are all adding a dangerous backdrop of instability and uncertainty.

This paragraph alone confirms that the British Prime Minister has entered a parallel universe in which up is down, down is up, and Santa Claus does indeed exist. How else to explain his ability to live in a constant state of denial over his government’s culpability and responsibility – along with that of the US and the EU – in creating the aforementioned instability, chaos, and economic stagnation?

Eurozone blues

The reason the eurozone is teetering on the “brink of a possible third recession” is the policy of austerity which he and other EU member states have been pursuing in response to a global recession that swept the world in early 2008, caused by the structural weaknesses of the global banking and financial system. To put it simply, Wall Street, the City of London, and other major global financial centers had become glorified Las Vegas casinos in which the savings and pensions of millions of people were recklessly gambled away by traders and bankers intent on maximizing their bonuses and commissions, regardless of the risks involved to the wider economy.

You might expect that some harsh lessons would have been learned from the ensuing economic meltdown, but you’d be wrong. In 2013, five years after the crash of 2008, 2,700 City of London bankers took home bonuses averaging £1.6 million. Much of this money came via the largesse of the British taxpayer, forced to bailout the likes of RBS to prevent their complete collapse at the height of the crisis. With the number of food banks (charities set up to feed the poor) in the UK rising by over 600 percent since David Cameron entered Downing Street in 2010, the scale of the poverty suffered by millions of people in the UK is clear.

Mr. Cameron’s government is no innocent spectator in this process. On the contrary, it has adopted and implemented attacks on the welfare state and has overseen the normalization of poverty wages, zero hours contracts, and under employment in Britain, which taken together is the primary cause of the aforementioned growth in poverty and describes a slavish attachment to the same neoliberal ideology responsible for the recession in the first place.

Throughout the eurozone working people and the poor are suffering as they haven’t since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Mass unemployment is the new normal, a consequence of a lack of demand within the eurozone that is the child of austerity. An obsession with reducing deficits by slashing spending, rather than investing to stimulate economic activity and foment sustainable growth, has had precisely the opposite effect. When every economy cuts spending investment dries up as the effect of austerity drives down demand, leading to a vicious cycle of under consumption, deflation, and depression.

AFP Photo / Daniel Karmann

Ebola is an equal opportunities disease

Moving on to the Prime Minister’s statement on Ebola and the link between the ability of this vile disease to spread as rapidly as it has in West Africa and poverty is inescapable. According to the World Bank’s own statistics absolute poverty in Africa has barely fallen over the past thirty years, while elsewhere in the developing world it has fallen from around 40 percent to 20 percent. Sub Saharan Africa is particularly affected, where over 40 percent of people are living in absolute poverty in 2014.

Ebola is an equal opportunities disease. It recognizes no distinctions of class, wealth or race, leading us to ponder whether it may be the fact it has appeared in the US and elsewhere in the West that the world is now so fixated on it.

In an article which appeared in The Lancet in April of this year, Melissa Leach of the UK’s Institute of Development Studies writes, “Ebola is being highlighted as an “exceptional” disease – one well worthy of dramatic political and public attention. This contrasts with more mundane diseases – malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea – that more regularly afflict Guinea’s women, men, and children.

According to the World Health Organization one of those “mundane” diseases, malaria, kills a child in Africa every minute. Malaria is a preventable disease and has been for many years now. Its continued presence as a major killer of children in Africa is an indictment of a global economic and political system in which the condition of the wealth and development of the northern hemisphere is the absolute poverty and under development of the southern hemisphere. It is a crime by any other name.

Russia, Ukraine, and the new Cold War

The use of the word “illegal” to describe Russia’s role in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine qualifies as breath-taking hypocrisy from a British Prime Minister whose government played a key role in creating the very conditions responsible for the crisis in the first place, and which continues with a dead end strategy of confrontation rather than serious diplomacy in order to resolve it.

Henry Kissinger spent the best years of his life fighting the Cold War against the Soviet Union. He is probably the last man whom you could ever describe as a stooge of the Kremlin, yet even he’s unable to deny the facts behind the developing crisis between Russia and the West. The former US National Security Advisor and Secretary of State recently gave an interview to the German magazine Der Spiegel. In it he discusses the tensions over Ukraine and the efficacy of sanctions that have been placed on Russia in response.

He says, “We have to remember that Russia is an important part of the international system, and therefore useful in solving all sorts of other crises, for example in the agreement on nuclear proliferation with Iran or over Syria. This has to have preference over a tactical escalation in a specific case…I don't think it's a law of nature that every state must have the right to be an ally in the frame work of NATO. You and I know that NATO will never vote unanimously for the entry of Ukraine.

Reuters / Arben Celi

NATO expansion the problem

The key point – one that people like David Cameron would rather everyone forgot – is that the current crisis in Ukraine is part of a wider struggle that has been years in gestation. It reaches all the way back to the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and the attempt by the West to reduce Russia to an economic, political, and military basket-case with the imposition of economic shock therapy, designed to sell off Russia’s wealth and assets to speculators and western corporations. For more on this see my previous article at RT, ‘A recovery the West has never forgiven Russia’.

Part of this process involved the expansion of NATO up to Russia’s borders, in violation of guarantees given to Moscow during the process of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This constitutes a clear threat to Russia’s national security and only a fool would expect it to remain quiescent in the face of such a threat.

The British Prime Minister is one such fool, a leader whose worldview verily drips with mendacity and ignorance. Indeed, reading his summing up of the crisis in Ukraine the words of his most famous predecessor, Winston Churchill, spring to mind: “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.