December 9, 2022
The Black-E theatre in Liverpool provided the central hub for The World Transformed (TWT) where we held a stall this year. The TWT festival is a 4-day event packed with training, debates and workshops on a broad range of progressive issues, coming from many diverse perspectives, and was a great opportunity to meet with activists, organisers, think-tanks and politicians. The TWT programme covered a wide array of topics aimed to provoke thoughtful debate and offer radical, transformative solutions to the biggest challenges facing society today.
The first event we attended was ‘Imperialism 101: British Foreign Policy Today’ with International Relations scholar Dr David Wearing. The presentation examined the relationship between the structures and ideologies of the British empire and how it informs modern foreign policy, by highlighting how Britain’s elite institutions have used racism to justify the power relations with its colonies. It showed how exploitative relationships with former colonies persist; while they are not maintained by direct military occupation, economic and financial structures from the colonial era are still firmly in place. Racism is still weaponised in the media to protect the elite’s business and political interests: we see this play out through tougher immigration legislation that resulted in the hostile environment. Reforming our broken global economic system to care for people and planet will therefore require examination of the historical role our most powerful institutions have played, and what efforts can be made today to address the harms and inequalities they have produced.
In our Banking, Race and colonialism blog series, we examine a range of topics related to the role Britain’s financial sector has played, and continues to play, in systems of oppression, and explores reparative alternatives. We consider the case for racial economic justice and climate reparations, argue for institutional reform at the IMF, and reflect on whether a new international monetary system could help overcome climate injustice.
SOLIDARITY WITH UNIONS
In ‘We’re All Tech Workers Now’, we heard from United Tech & Allied Workers about the untapped potential for union organising within the tech sector. Technology giants, like Google and Meta (previously Facebook) often seem to be untouchable. Regulators have failed to prevent tech giants from reaching into every corner of our lives, and putting our basic right to privacy under threat.
Workers for tech giants in the Global South often face harsh working conditions, low pay, and long hours. However, the speakers explained how workers in the tech sector could reign in the power of the vast corporations they work for — if they were empowered to organise together and demand fairer conditions. For example, software developers in the Global North could align themselves with factory workers in the Global South, building solidarity across big tech’s supply chains and disrupting them with collective action. With union organising empowered to transcend borders, we can ensure the rights and wellbeing of workers are upheld and redistribute profits more fairly.
Over the summer, we stood with striking RMT workers and they spoke to us about the injustice of runaway profiteering by big bosses who are simultaneously clamping down on working conditions and pay. With a succession of strikes planned over the Christmas period, it’s crucial people come together in solidarity with workers who are pushing back against decades of failed economic policy that entrenches a system of low wages, and poor workers’ rights.
ACTIVISM AGAINST OPPRESSION
In “From Child Q to the Manchester 10: Police Violence Against Kids”, we heard from Hilary Moore (author of “Beyond Policing” and a political educator and writer from the US), Roxy Legane (Director of Kids of Colour, steering group member of Northern Police Monitoring Project) and other activists engaged in work calling to end to police violence and discrimination, and dismantle systems of oppression. Highlights of the talk included learning more about the No Police In Schools campaign and the No More Exclusions coalition movement.
On the final day of TWT, we attended “Doing more about Disability Justice”, hosted by Micha Frazer-Carroll and Shabaaz Mohammed. The speakers encouraged participants to reimagine disability justice, going beyond “levelling the playing field” towards building a society where disabled people can thrive. Despite protest and strike action reigniting solidarity amongst workers this year, the panellist pointed out how disabled people often face physical barriers to participating.
To address these issues, they made a range of recommendations including accessible marching routes for protests and accessibility statements to provide access information for events. It was a stark reminder to the progressive movement that solidarity should extend to everyone, and that more needs to be done to ensure that disability justice is not only acknowledged, but acted upon. Positive Money’s intention is to carry these important lessons forward into our community organising work, and ensure our campaign actions are as inclusive and accessible for everyone, and support is available for those who need it to help them engage with our work.
FIGHTING THE DEREGULATORY AGENDA
Over the 4 days, we spoke to many people about our vision for a fairer, and more sustainable economy. We encouraged people to sign our petition fighting back against government plans to give banks more power through the Financial Markets and Services Bill that is currently going through parliament. If passed, the bill will introduce a ‘growth’ and ‘international competitiveness’ agenda in a thinly veiled plan to deregulate the financial sector, increasing the risk of a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.
We spoke to festival-goers about the bill, and explained how the government is using Brexit to loosen up the rules that govern banks, including by lifting the cap on banker’s bonuses. The bill also risks undermining our chances of reaching net zero and could even encourage more ‘greenwashing’ by the banks. HSBC were found guilty by ad regulators after their adverts about planting trees were found to be misleading as the bank continues to pour billions into fossil fuels.
Senior Researcher Zack with Dawn Butler MP
We spoke to several politicians about the bill and managed to get them on board including Richard Burgeon, Dawn Butler, and Kim Johnson (MP for Liverpool Riverside, where TWT took place).
Liverpool Riverside MP Kim Johnson supporting our petition
SIGN OUR PETITION
Positive Money stands for a fair, democratic and sustainable economy for all and with people up and down the country choosing between heating and eating this winter, many key workers on strike and the growing impacts of climate devastation — it’s becoming more clear that the government’s growth agenda is out of step with ordinary people. The fixation on growing the financial sector and reinstating a deregulatory ‘competitiveness’ agenda is a key theme within the Financial Services & Markets bill that we’re campaigning against. At a time when people’s wages are being squeezed whilst corporations are raking in billions in profits – it’s high time people realised that finance-led growth only benefits the wealthy and financial institutions in the City of London.
Over 2500 people have joined our call on Rishi Sunak to stop loosening the rules on the banks and push them to support people and planet instead.
Join them now and sign our petition.