Written with JON TWIGGE
Over the past 6 months or so, I’ve found quite a meeting of minds with Jon Twigge, an ardent Spiral Dynamics Integral enthusiast and supporter of the Centre of Human Emergence – UK. He’s graciously allowed me to cross-publish a couple of pieces he wrote for his own blog. Now, we’ve co-written this post which will appear on both blogs. It began life as Jon’s rough draft which we ‘kicked around a little’ until we both felt it said what needed to be said.
All great civilsations of the past have faltered.
At some point very soon we are going to be facing the real consequences of the banking crisis. Government has already announced cuts and more will follow as the full implications of the costs involved come home to roost. Does this crisis mark a downward turn in the modern western capitalist system? One that may we not completely recover from?
One probable, and short term, consequence is that local authorities will have their funding from central government severely cut back - one reliable source has told me (Keith) a large amount of the 60% of the funding local authorities get from central government is going to go. We would expect that the Government will try to spread the blame around as much as possible. Letting local authorities take decisions at a local level will both help this to happen and also cause local problems.
One estimate is that it will take the best part of 10 years to get back to the present levels of service in local authorities and that next year, in a bid to make the difficult spending cuts more acceptable, local authorities are going to be holding public meetings to consult with voters on which services to cut. The process will allow them to attempt to explain that the cuts are not their fault and to minimise the risk of a public outcry by sharing the decisions as to where and what to cut.
Even with this dilution and spreading of the blame, there are real risks that there will be a public backlash. After all, it was not the public’s fault was it, it was the bankers – surely?
Where will the cuts fall?
So where will the cuts fall? Over the last few years things have been tightened up, optimised, streamlined and generally pushed to the limit. So, while there may be some small areas of cost saving to be made, any serious cuts will result in real cuts to front line services. It is likely that cuts will in fact fall across a majority of services including education, recreation, public transport and roads and many other public facing services. It is also likely that many departments will have their resources cut but be expected to maintain the same levels of service. This will cause staff to come under increased pressure and will result in more failures due to stress and absence. And it will mean job losses. Some of the cuts could be quite savage if the Government is to bring total government debt under control.
What will the response of the public be? It depends on people’s values and the extent of the problems they experience. The extent of the problems may well seem even worse than they are if the media chooses to focus its energy on them. In fact, an unhappy public and a media happy to reinforce their feelings can resonate strongly and create real civic unrest. We do not have to go too far back in history to see the results of the imposition of the poll tax.
Should we have maintained tighter control on the banking system and are we doing enough now to stop it happening again? If we allow bankers to continue getting large bonuses as the public begins to suffer more and more at the hand of large spending cuts, then the consequences could be severe.
Using Spiral Dynamics and related sociopsychological technologies, it is pretty much possible to predict the mismatch in values between the masses seeing their quality of living being sharply eroded and the evermore affluent elite whose greed led to this erosion. As most of the British banking system is buoyed up by taxpayer revenue, for the banks to then be paying huge bonuses to their riskiest operators looks quite simply like the public is being fleeced. Given that the recent ‘expenses scandal’ provided strong evidence for what many already felt – that politicians are driven by self-interest – the whole thing looks like one lot of crooks (the politicians) fleecing us (the public) on behalf of another lot of crooks (the bankers).
In Spiral Dynamics terms, this is the more complex but self-oriented ORANGE thinking system manipulating the do-the-right-thing BLUE thinking system. Technically, legally, many of those huge bonuses are valid for results the risky operators achieved 3-plus years ago; but the banks aren’t offsetting that against those very same risky operators crashing the banking system in 2008 and creating unfathomably massive losses. The less complex BLUE thinking of the Government does the ‘right thing’ by allowing the bankers to get their due bonuses. We can suspect there may be some no consequences RED self-interest here as well, given that many leading politicians like to socialise with leading financiers. Remember Peter Mandelson (Labour) and George Osborne (Conservative) being caught on board a leading financier’s yacht…?
The bankers also plead that, if the bonuses aren’t paid, the risky operators will move to other cities and London will decline as a finance centre and that will put paid to Britain’s financial services sector on which much of Britain’s income depends.
Taking a holistic view – what Spiral Dynamics terms ’2nd Tier’ – enables us to see just what a mess Britain is in because the kingdom’s ability to generate wealth through multiple industrial and commercial sectors has been steadily eroded over the past 30 years, making us so much more dependent on the financial services sector. (And what’s left of Britain’s manufacturing industry has been particularly badly hit in the latest recession.) The impact of those policies – started by Margaret Thatcher but more or less continued under Tony Blair – has been to create an affluent elite in certain parts of the country while reducing many others to being dependent on benefits or else in real poverty. Considering what an old-fashioned socialist Gordon Brown is said to be, he must find it really galling that Labour’s 10 year rule has seen the ‘poverty gap’ between richest and poorest widen significantly, with millions of children now living below the official poverty line.
Are we rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic?
What did these people do that was so bad they deserved this? The majority of them complied with BLUE’s rules for good citizenship – going to work, not committing crimes, paying their taxes, etc. When the rules are seen to be unfair or the rules actually work against the benefit of the majority, then the public’s trust in BLUE goes – just as it did in the last days of the poll tax – and RED will take over, with people taking the law into their own hands. Someone earlier this year fired a shot through the window of one of the houses owned by Sir Fred Goodwin, the boss who presided over RBS/Nat West’s ruin only to walk away with a multi-million £ pension. “So our taxes are going to keep this idiot in luxury?!?!?”
As the cuts bite deeper and deeper, expect civil unrest and expect more attacks on politicians and bankers.
With the help of Spiral Dynamics co-founder Don Beck, the Centre for Human Emergence - UK was set up last June to carry out a multi-faceted analysis of the complex mess Britain is sliding deeper and deeper into and propose solutions. Such solutions will be radical but necessary. Our kingdom has incredible energy, inventiveness and resilience – plus a world-conquering ‘can do’ tradition. Britain doesn’t have to die by the proverbial ‘thousand cuts’. It doesn’t have to be that way. We CAN put the ‘Great’ back in Britain. But Gordon Brown’s trillions-costing sticking plaster approach to the banking system won’t do it. It needs a radical rethink of who we are, what we do and how we do it, together.
And it needs to be done quickly before that old Rolling Stones song about “revolution” and “fighting in the streets” is not just a bit of nostalgia!