WTF is “Anti-Austerity”?

The Greek and Scottish governments, and the SNP, are amongst the most vocal proponents of “Anti-Austerity”. (I assume that’s how it’s written, although it may of course be “Auntie Austerity”, in which case I apologise for misunderstanding and withdraw the following remarks.)

Apart from being somewhat alliterative and thus easy for mindless mobs to chant, what does it actually mean?

Amongst the many synonyms for austerity are: seriousness, severity, soberness, self-denial and economy. The most prominent antonyms are levity (lightness, flippancy, jokiness, etc.) and plenty.

I don’t think austerity can be defined adequately in a single word. What I think it means in our current financial situation is “living within our means and paying off our debts”. I think Charles Dickens had it spot on with the ethos espoused by Mr Micawber, which I would paraphrase as “Spend less than you earn and you’ll be happy; spend more than you earn and you’re heading for disaster”. What a pity the previous Labour government, and the Brown/Balls combo in particular, didn’t adopt this philosophy.

I don’t see how any sensible, moral [with a small ‘m’] person can advocate anything but the current “long term economic plan” [to use a much-maligned phrase!], so let’s keep on with austerity until we are in a position to make Mr Micawber happy!

So that’s austerity; what about anti-austerity?

In one sense, I’m sure we are all anti-austerity, and would like to work less, earn more and generally imrove our lives, but we have to earn that position, not expect “them” to get us there.

But what do the Greek and Scottish governments, and the SNP, mean by anti-austerity? They never seem to quite get round to telling us that; surely it’s not just a populist sound-bite; surely it’s not just a headline-grabbing, meaningless phrase; surely there are concrete plans behind it? 

Going back to definitions, the antonyms to austerity are surely the best ones for “anti-austerity”. In that case, perhaps the proponents have just been joking with us (levity, flippancy, etc.) or perhaps they have loads of money (plenty) stashed under their mattresses?

I think it’s time they all came clean and told us exactly what they mean!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *