Alistair McConnachie reports: The seventh annual Bromsgrove Conference was held at our familiar venue, Barnes Close, outside Bromsgrove, from late Tuesday afternoon on the 28th October to Thursday lunchtime on the 30th.
Every year, the Conference provides an opportunity for members of the Money Reform Community to come together in relaxed surroundings to meet, to network, to reflect on the past year, to learn, and to plan for the future.
On Tuesday evening, Organiser Alistair McConnachie welcomed those present and spoke of the educational thrusts that have been taken from the Prosperity office this year, reaching to key agencies including University Economics Librarians, MPs, and NGOs.
Convenor James Gibb Stuart drew attention specifically to the good work of the Forum for Stable Currencies which runs regular meetings in the House of Lords and which is instrumental in developing the two EDMs on Money Reform which have been signed by a small, but increasing number, of MPs.
The first presentation on Wednesday was from Peter Challen titled Commitment to action — acknowledging the range.
He reported on the past year’s developments in Monetary Reform and put the conference in its wide context by drawing attention to all the groups in Britain, and world-wide, which are working for economic justice, including the increasing number of useful books which are being published on this issue — wherein were “the beginnings of clear proposals and specific action.”
Here, he suggested a key thought: “The Co-operative Advantage“. Teamwork was essential if these individuals and groups were to be brought together and if the message was to expand.
He emphasised that “Money creation is an ordinate issue — not subordinate” and spoke of the importance of holding “an optimism of the will“.
Introducing Distributism was the title of the next session from Francis Hutchinson, chairperson of the Social Credit Secretariat, who considered Distributism’s relevance for today.
Although there was “no blueprint”, it was, she said, opposed to corporate capitalism and was about emphasising as many small producers as possible, and uniting producers and consumers together in an organic whole, ending wage slavery and developing a “multiple portfolio of income sources” in order to remove dependence on one income source.
For further reading, she recommended The Restoration of Property by Hilaire Belloc and An Outline of Sanity by GK Chesterton.
Rosamund Stock’s presentation, Fundamentalist “Religion” in the 21st Century identified the fundamentalism in mainstream economics, describing it as “a hermetically sealed set of beliefs.”
Referencing many of the main economic textbooks which are used by students, she demonstrated how the economic dogma is the same in all — taken for granted rather than questioned, and drummed into students remorselessly.
“What”, she asked, “can we do to dislodge the indoctrination?”
The answer is to reach the people who haven’t yet closed their minds, she suggested.
As Frances Hutchinson pointed out, students today are receptive to the idea that “debt is a bad thing!”
David Weston said he liked to use the analogy of the game of Monopoly. The game is “working properly” when someone takes all the assets and everybody else loses. He pointed out that, “People say the economic system ‘is not working’. Wrong! In our world, the game of Globalopoly is working exactly as it was intended!”
The question, he suggested, was: Who makes the rules of the game, and, especially, who funds the people who make the rules?
James Robertson, in his presentation The Role of Money and Finance in Sharing Limited Resources said, “there is a growing awareness around the world that the money system is at the root of the world’s problems.”
Money Reform should be seen in the context of the wider economic system and it was best to communicate it as part of the wider reforms necessary, both nationally and internationally.
Opinion, he believed, was on the move about the exploitation of the world by the US dollar, which was really a national currency “muscling in as a ‘global currency’.”
Molly Scott Cato spoke on Argentina in the Red: What Can we Learn from Argentina’s Banking Crisis? She explained how the financial markets had been deregulated enabling corporate speculation. This had led to the country’s basic assets falling into corporate ownership.
The power of speculators to speculate against an economy, ruin it, then move in and buy up everything cheap, was a very real danger. We must look to creative ways of removing ourselves from dependence upon, and vulnerability to, such speculation. For example, she emphasised the importance of localised global economic models, so we are self-provisioning.
As Chris Cook pointed out, “The money market should be the tail, not the dog.”
John Jopling’s presentation, From Global Monetocracy to Gaian Democracy, referenced his new book Gaian Democracies.
He said that the present debt-based money system is a core component — an integral part — of the current political-economic system. This Global Monetocracy is a self-organising adaptive system, which will defend itself against any attacks on its identity. Therefore, Money Reformers should organise themselves as a vital part of a process to change the identity of the global political/economic system.
There were various ways of bringing the debt-based money system to the attention of people.
Clive Rosher suggested that we should “attack the disease of Monetocracy with the virus of the fradulence and the swindle of it all”.
Donald Martin suggested that the money system was “an instrument of control”.
Other campaigners concentrated on the injustice of the system nationally and globally.
On Wednesday evening, Chris Cook spoke on Open Capital — An Introduction. He investigated capital markets and the role of speculators, and set out the “open capital” alternative. He defined “open capital” as “a proportional share in an enterprise over a period of time”. In this regard, he drew attention to “Limited Liability Partnerships” or LLPs, which are new legal structures offering new advantages to business organisation.
On Thursday morning, Brian Ragbourn spoke on Dollar Seigniorage: The Issue of ‘Vagabond Greenbacks’ and gave us a tour through the history of the US dollar and its growing global power, which was, he stated, now being threatened by the growing rivalry with the Euro.
A country, such as the USA, in possession of a currency benefiting from international prestige could “give without taking, lend without borrowing, and acquire without paying”, he quoted.
Rodney Shakespeare and Peter Challen in their presentation The Justice Movement goes Global covered recent developments in the world-wide movement for monetary justice, and opened up the theme which we will study further at Bromsgrove next year, namely, as Peter Challen said, “The influence of Muslim resurgence in finance and banking, with the profound tensions that arouses and the possibilities of new structures of justice that are signalled in our seeking out together of the co-operative advantage.”
Rodney Shakespeare said that some Muslim economists had a tendency towards a rhetoric of “gold-backed” money. “Gold” for them, gives a sense of stability, whereas they tend to perceive “fiat” money as inflationary.
However, he believed that “fiat” [let it be created] currencies — which are not gold-backed — are the mechanisms which “allow you to get things done”. He stated that in today’s world, “Gold-based means you won’t get a money supply!”
He is also meeting with Stephen Zarlenga, Director of the American Monetary Institute in New York, one of the world’s leading monetary historians and author of the recently released, The Lost Science of Money. Together they are addressing Islamic academics “in a very big way”.
He stated that, “Moderate Islam is demonstrating a desire for: no interest, market mechanisms, widespread property ownership, social and economic justice and, its own money supply.
In this regard, Rodney is to be the main speaker at an important Islamic conference in January 2004 in Indonesia.
As Peter Challen said, “It is deeply stimulating to trace in a series of annual workshops at Bromsgrove, the steady growth of common understanding around monetary justice and of the rich respect for different emphases and starting points. Between us in these 48 hours we emphasised the co-operative advantage from many starting points and we strengthened the understanding that change will come from a variety of inroads into the Monetocracy and, in parallel, from bold alternatives that emphasise and energise the sovereignty of people, the greater self-reliance of communities, and the creation of global trading that is just and mutually beneficial.”
The Conference in 2004 will be held at the same venue on the 12th-14th October. If you have not been before and would like to attend, please contact us at the address below.