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Aufheben *22 2013 - 2014

Aufheben *22 2013 - 2014

After the crisis - what happened to the recovery in the UK? 5,000 years of debt? Fracking struggles.

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WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ECONOMIC RECOVERY IN THE WEST? 

Did the crisis mark the beginning of a new down-swing in capitalist development? If not, why was the economic recovery so slow? In this article we focus on the failure of the economic recovery to take hold in the old capitalist heartlands by examining the case of the UK economy. We will argue that the failure of the economic recovery in the UK cannot be sufficiently explained by conjunctural factors such as the imposition of austerity measures or the impairment of investment due to the impairment of banking in the aftermath of the banking crisis, and that more long term structural factors that have come to fore since the crisis may be more important.


5,000 YEARS OF DEBT? 

David Graeber’s book Debt: The First 5,000 Years is said to be the Das Kapital of the Occupy movement, and has been positively received by activists and intellectuals alike. It suggests that ‘debt’ and forms of money are valid categories that can help makes sense of violence, the state, and the market. However, we argue that the book’s history of debt across the millennia relies too often on an elasticity over the essence of ‘debt’ and considerable ‘poetic licence’ in his examples from history. This has serious, and disappointing, implications for political criticism of both our past history and our present world.

INTAKES: AN ACTIVIST’S PERSPECTIVE ON THE FRACKING STRUGGLE AT BALCOMBE 

Climate change is now almost universally agreed to be linked to capitalist industry and consumption, and is a massive point of tension for contemporary capitalism. Traditional fossil energy prices will inevitably continue to rise and will become increasingly uneconomical. Among the non-conventional fossil fuels that are now being exploited are shale oil and shale gas. These fossil fuels are extracted through fracking – hydraulic fracturing. Currently, the most high-profile mass direct action campaign against fracking taking place in the UK is the Sussex village of Balcombe. The campaign has some similarities to other environmental struggles in the UK in the last 20 years. For this Intakes article, we asked one of our friends who had been along to the Balcombe site to share with us his experience of the campaign and to give us his perspective on its prospects for escalation.