Change the rules

The New Economics Zine: Issue 1 editorial

These days it seems like all we’re capable of thinking and talking about is Brexit and elections. But behind the scenes, there are people thinking hard about how we can change the rules of the economy so it works better for everyone.

Our economic model is failing us. Between flatlining wages, precarious work and the threat of environmental and climate breakdown, it’s clear that the way the economy is being run is serving only a few people at the top, and leaving the rest of us and the places where we live in its wake.

For the last 40 years, the economy has been run according to a misplaced faith in free markets and competition. When neoliberalism took hold, it was because of concerted effort from thinktanks, economists and businesses to argue for an economy where the market is king. After four decades, it’s time for a change.

The way the economy works isn’t inevitable. It’s run according to a set of rules that determine what its outcomes are. These rules are not naturally occurring things – we can change them. By changing the rules that govern the economy, we can reprogramme it to give it a new purpose. We can build a new economy that doesn’t just follow the markets – one which is purpose-driven and creates human and environmental flourishing.

This is the thinking behind this brand new zine from the New Economics Foundation. We wanted to use our bumper debut issue to showcase new ideas and platform voices outside of orthodox economics.

This issue is stuffed full of pieces from writers who are able to diagnose where our economy went wrong. Grace Blakeley identifies the beginnings of our current economic problems in the process of financialisation that began in the 1980s, which shifted power from workers to shareholders and creditors. Looking back further, Guppi Bola argues that we need to understand the colonial roots of our current economic system in the 17th and 18th centuries if we want to know how to dismantle it. Back in the present day, in an extract from her new book, Frances Ryan describes the effects of austerity on disabled parents, and the increasing numbers of children taken into care. Fernanda Balata examines the geographical dimension of our economy, in a look at how coastal communities are impacted by economic and environmental challenges.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Looking ahead, we’ve got pieces from writers who are rewriting the economic rulebook. Miatta Fahnbulleh sets out a vision for the UK’s post-Brexit economy – one that doesn’t allow the domestic agenda to be eclipsed by Brexit infighting. Mathew Lawrence imagines an economy which we all have ownership of. Facing down the climate crisis, members of two different generations, Ann Pettifor and Jamie Margolin, discuss how avoiding climate breakdown means fighting to replace our economic system. But creating this change can often be frustrating, slow, unglamorous work. So Rebecca Winson has written a guide based on her years of organising experience to show that creating change isn’t easy, but it is possible if you build power and use it.

We see the word change’ everywhere these days, so much so that it’s in danger of losing all meaning. So it’s important that we use this moment of upheaval to define the kind of change we want and how we want to win it. As you read through the pieces in the issue it becomes clear that change is possible, change is hard work and change is coming. So it’s time for us to use education, organisation and action to build momentum, strengthen links across movements and challenge the status quo. 

This zine isn’t designed to be the usual thinktank academic journal but something for everyone that everyone feels they could write for. Even if you haven’t had much writing experience we would still love you to pitch something to us – we are happy to help and support you to contribute. We won’t be able to publish everything we are sent in print but we will also be publishing things online. There are more details about how to submit ideas at the back of the zine. Our next issue will be focused on mental health and look at how we can build an economy that factors in wellbeing and your life rather than just your job. We want to dive into this issue properly in the next issue of the zine – so would love for people to share their experiences, their advice, their views and their frustrations. This zine is for you, and for the movement, so we hope you enjoy!

Thank you for reading!

Sofie Jenkinson and Margaret Welsh, Editors

This is an extract from the New Economics Zine issue 1. Read the full issue here

Image: Charlot Kristensen

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