An interview we did with ONN for our recent documentary "97% Owned".
ONN: It seems clear that with this documentary you felt the need to inform people about how our financial system works. What else could be done to make citizens aware of the dangers that this system could lead to?
Queuepolitely: For us it’s not about ‘dangers’ per se but truth and equality. Our present reality is one in which the financial system must provide an incentive framework to reward the few at the expense of the many. People tend to believe that the ideas surrounding money and the economy are real, but they are merely constructed to provide a framework for incentive and meaning. And once you understand the complexity of it, you realize that it is essentially a form of imperialism akin to International Empire and National slavery. It underlines and enforces the divisions that are at the heart of our societies.
We did our best to try to communicate what is essentially quite a complex topic in an accessible way, and to highlight the absurdity of it. We think better films with wider appeal can be made about this topic, but we decided to attempt the shock therapy approach, because the subject is so contrary to the common perception of reality, it’s a topic that many people simply can’t even begin to comprehend, because it breaks with so many of the taboos of what we perceive as real.
The framework itself and its implications led us to believe that increased awareness and knowledge of its construct, such as highlighted in this film, is the key to helping citizens to determine their own belief structure. This is also why we gave the film away and why we are speaking to Occupy to spread this knowledge.
ONN: Information is the first step to make a change. Bankers and governments have their interests in preventing knowledge from being spread in this matter, but why haven’t economists come out and addressed the public earlier?
Queuepolitely: Academics and their ideas are often isolated to academia, and are not always readily available, or communicated in an accessible way. Economists that do not conform to the mainstream discourse do propose alternative economic realities but they often do not have a popular platform or wider audience. We have recently read much of the work produced by Professor Richard Werner, as our next documentary will be based on one of his books. In the context of this question we would like to copy a quote from the prologue of one of these books.
“In the 1980s and 1990s a school of thought reached the zenith of its power. Its influence had become pervasive…. (It) succeeded in dominating its discipline at all leading universities in the world. Academics that did not adhere to it found it hard to make a career….But dominance in academia was merely the foundation of a much wider reaching influence. A large number of prominent national and international bureaucrats, journalists, politicians and other opinion makers had either been trained in the discipline or had otherwise become its followers. As a result, the views proposed by it came to dominate public debate by the mid-1980s, permeating the discussion of issues affecting individuals, communities, companies, the nation and the international community. The name of this school is less well-known: neoclassical economics. Today, neoclassical economics is synonymous with modern economics per se. Students can spend years studying for their degrees without becoming aware that they may have been studying just one particular branch, one of many schools of thought in the discipline of economics.” (Professor Richard Werner, “New paradigm in macro-economics.”)
ONN: What would be the perfect balance among State, Power and Trade in order to have a stable economy, according to you?
Queuepolitely: Interesting choice of question, this is we believe taken from the documentary, a quote by Sargon Nissan. We went to film Sargon at a talk he gave at 6 Billion Way, and after listening to his talk, it became clear to us that the money issue was not just something that was nationally relevant, it was also internationally relevant. It is impossible for us to give a comprehensive answer to this question within the confines of this interview, but here is the general idea.
Prior to 1945 the British Empire was the dominant trade block. Post WWII the Anglo-American trade system became all-domineering and from the 1980’s onwards it evolved within the frame of neoclassical economics and the Neo-liberal agenda to allow the dominant western powers to pursue an ideology of competition and free markets within the context of a world trade system, whose rules they themselves create and enforce for their own benefit. This reality does not conform to any of the principles they themselves claim to subscribe to, and that is why ascribing a defined value to currencies for the purposes of international trade is likely the only thing that would lead to a coherent ideology.
In the documentary the distinction between debts as we commonly understand them and debts that arise as a result of trade imbalances between countries is not well explained, but this is an important distinction to make. For many countries a negative trade balance is a recipe for disaster, see Southern Europe or the Asian Crises. But the two countries that have the largest balance of trade deficits, Britain and America, have not been affected in the same way. Maybe one day someone will be able to explain to us why that is!
A stable economy depends on factor inputs, production capacity and in our present arrangement consumption. We believe Iran is a current example of what can be expected when access to resources (which counts as a factor input) is severely restricted.
We will be exploring this topic further in our next documentary feature, which will also reveal the role and operation of central banks. It will be made in a gentler style than some of our previous endeavors and is based on a book by Professor Richard Werner. The English title is “Princes of the Yen”, we will be busy working on this for the next year to release end of 2013 or early 2014.
ONN: Talking about international banking, it is said in the documentary that poor countries are less likely to have a democratic government as they depend too much on foreign banks’ diktats. Would it be possible for a country to survive economically, cutting itself out of the international financial system, refusing the structural adjustment program?
Queuepolitely: The exact quote from Nick Dearden (Jubilee debt Campaign) was, “it is very difficult to see how democratic societies can evolve or function when a government is more dependent on the diktats of the IMF and the money markets than it is on their own people.” He was specifically referring to the effect of international money and debt on developing countries. We think there is an additional aspect here, developed western societies have a multitude of powerful interest groups that operate behind government and help to shape and direct it. As many people have realized, it is very difficult, if not impossible for us to affect change in how we are governed, because the interest groups remain the same. Poorer and less developed countries don’t have interest groups with similar clout, especially when one considers what they are up against in terms of International money and interests. Weak democratic countries are therefore much easier to manipulate, than weak dictatorships. You just need to wait for the next election and promote your favored candidate.
When a country defaults on a part of its debts, this has not necessarily led to being completely cut off from the international financial system. We’re no experts on this, but we don’t think Ecuador was completely cut off when it defaulted on part of its debt. And we are sure there are many other examples of this.
ONN: Is there still hope for our economy to be saved or do you think it is too late for a renewal?
Queuepolitely: Things can always change it is a matter of national and international agreement. The debt based bank centered system was developed in the west, but it is not the only possible way of arranging a money system, and there are many historical examples of this.
ONN: Let’s say that the Money Reform Party achieves its goal and reforms our money system. How would everyday life change? Would common people notice any improvement in their existences?
Queuepolitely: There is a wealth of information on this on the www.positivemoney.org.uk website. Ben Dyson from Positive Money starred extensively in the film and there is even a cut down one hour version of the documentary which addresses the effects of the debt based system and the benefits of replacing it with a debt free system.
ONN: Throughout the documentary you have explained the relationship between politicians and bankers and its conflicts. How dangerous is it when bankers become politicians, as happened in Italy, for instance?
Queuepolitely: We recently filmed a talk by Icelandic Parliamentarian Birgitta Jónsdóttir at the London Bitcoin Conference 2012, where she explained some of the intricacies of being a politician. In her talk she mentioned that politicians are expected to be experts in all subjects, but the reality is that they have neither the time nor the expertise to become acquainted with all the diverse subjects they are expected to pass judgment on. She further went on to say that they often rely on lobbyists, who are incidentally also the very same people who write the proposals for new laws, and the biggest lobbyists are the bankers.
It can be argued that in contemporary society the role of the politician is to a significant degree that of a media personality, a celebrity of the political sphere. So in relation to Monti and Italy, what they are basically saying is, “why should we go through the trouble of writing proposals and convincing politicians of their necessity, when we could just be in power for a little while and push through the changes we want in that way. It’s much easier and quicker.”
Who are Queuepolitely?
Queuepolitely is a collective of filmmakers and artists and acts as an independent, non-partisan platform for the creation, distribution and documentation of alternative political and socio-economic entertainment in a graphic novel influenced style. For the purposes of longer form non-fiction, the consensus dictates an egalitarian truth centered narrative. 97% Owned is their most recent documentary feature, where they explore the role and function of money from a national and international perspective.
Link to source.