“You don’t qualify for braces unless you’ve more than two teeth missing” said the HSE dental nurse apologetically. She was friendly, efficient and the picture of dental professionalism; Professional Austerity.
Nothing said by the Dental Nurse seemed unreasonable when viewed through the prism of Austerity. Taking Medical Cards from Children with Disabilities, that’s just Childhood Austerity. Allowing Banks gouge Standard Variable Rate customers, that’s Austerity Transference.
Listening to mainstream media decry calls for change as “populism” and nodding our heads sagely, that’s nothing but the manifestation of Austerity Fatigue. Those championing the demise of popular democracy are either adherents to the Austerity doctrine, or hostages to it.
So when a Dental Nurse tells me my daughter doesn’t qualify for braces unless she has a mouth like Shane MacGowan, I don’t even flinch. I myself am suffering from Austerity Stockholm Syndrome.
Today we remember Copernicus as the man who proved the Earth was not the centre of the universe and that it revolved around the sun. As mundane as this piece of information is these days, in the sixteenth century this fact was revolutionary, not to mention heretical.
Copernicus died before his book (The Revolutions of the Celestial Orbs) was printed. He’d lived a happy and productive seventy years and is said to have seen the first printed copy of his work before passing away peacefully; an escape for the good Doctor.
Most of the vitriol was saved up for the Copernican follower Galileo. The beliefs and works of both men “explicitly contradict…the Holy Scripture” and as such, was an attack on the Holy Roman Church. The belief that the Earth was the centre of the universe was inextricably linked to the power of the doctrines of the age.
“The Lord set the earth on its foundations, it can never be moved”
Galileo was tried by the Inquisition and found guilty of heresy. He lived the rest of his life under house arrest, undermined, discredited, marginalised and his works forbidden. When he died, aged seventy seven, he was refused burial within the Basilica of Santa Croce beside the graves of his family; the churches final humiliation of the great man.
When recanting his heretical and heliocentric beliefs as part of his punishment, Galileo was said to have concluded “And yet it moves”. And the earth kept moving, round and round the sun it went. As it spun on, the truth of Galileo’s works spread, his knowledge swept away the ideology of idiocy.
When we talk now of great men like Copernicus and Galileo, we guffaw at the simplicity and idiocy of those who tried so hard to suppress the truth. We demonise them as uncultured and unenlightened monsters. We shrug our shoulders and are grateful that we aren’t so ideologically blind. And yet I can’t help thinking…
In a few hundred years, when students sit and read the history of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, what will they make of it? I don’t pretend to be so smart as to know, but if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to hazard a guess.
I believe that, in the future, students will demonise us as uncultured and unenlightened for what we have done. They will read in horror how we put “market confidence” ahead of people lying on hospital trolleys. They will study how we accepted an erosion of human rights and basic living standards so we could return the Banks (who created the mess) to profit.
How can the history students, four hundred years hence, wrap their heads around the concept that, no matter what the societal meltdown or human suffering, the only treatment proscribed was austerity? I mean, how can they possibly understand that our leaders decided the only system that can prevent another Boom and Bust cycle is the same system that caused the last one?
I imagine that when they watch the film of events back, they’ll call us idiots for paying bondholders and letting the most vulnerable in society go hungry. I can almost hear them wonder how it could be that a “developed world” allowed Multinational Companies, Troika’s and Banks dictate the terms of cuts to be applied to people?
When they read the Book, they wont really comprehend the level of political incompetence that continued the march of inequality, in the name of Globalisation. They’ll have entire books about the globalisation of austerity and how, at every turn, the rights of Business out-trumped the rights of humans.
But when they’re finished learning about the past, they can close the book, shrug their shoulders and be grateful that they aren’t so ideologically blind. Meanwhile, we live it. “Free Trade” Austerity, like TTIP, keeps the Chumocracy recovery going.
And I leave the Dentist a little lessened by Austerity, again. So call me populist. Call me a dreamer. Call me a heretic. But I don’t want my life to be a paragraph in a book on a dark time in humanity. I want my book to have a happy ending. But it’s not looking good at the moment.
The book, you ask? Why it’s a best seller in 2416, it’s called The Age of Austerity.
Tony Groves May 2016
Image courtesy of the brilliant @Feckthelottom