Brighton Festival Review: Be Outraged – There are Alternatives

25 May

Pavilion Theatre: Tuesday, May 22 2012

It’d be difficult to disagree with the motives and messages of this event.

In a series of short lectures, Richard Jolly, from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, and Stephanie Griffiths Jones, from Colombia University, forensically critiqued the global financial crisis and, more pertinently, dissected what they argued were the ill-advised austerity messages being adopted to tackle it.

They stated that Europe’s obsession with cuts was at the expense of economic growth, and urged governments to learn the lessons of the post-war period when those in power stimulated the economy with investment.

The Keynesian policies of 1948 to the early 70s led to more jobs and greater national prosperity, they argued. Likewise, they made a compelling case to claim how the cuts disproportionately hit the poorest, and especially women, while fatcat pay soared.

While their reasoning was spot-on, as a spectacle, the event was somewhat lacking.

The slides which accompanied the lectures were less than inspiring while the dramatic representations of the themes by students were well-intentioned but unconvincing.

The missing ingredient from all of this was what the people who are legitimately outraged by the cuts are doing to fight them.

The focus on economic policy issues accompanied by subtle-as-a-sledgehammer drama, lacked any convincing human touch. It barely touched on the scores of grass-roots protests and anti-austerity campaigns that have sprung up.

The subject matter had the potential to provide an inspirational mix of academia, activism and call-to-arms alternatives, but what we got was one of those 9am university lectures that covered the basics, but largely failed to live in the memory.

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