Unmasking Austerity

Unmasking Austerity: Opposition and Alternatives in Europe and North America, by Dexter Whitfield, Spokesman Books (eBook)

Unmasking Austerity

Unmasking Austerity: Opposition and Alternatives in Europe and North America exposes how austerity policies have fuelled the fire of recession rather than stimulated growth. It identifies key lessons from organising and action against such policies, and urges a rethink of trade union, community and social movement strategies to overcome austerity. Unmasking Austerity examines the deeper causes of the financial crisis, and exposes the manufactured crises which are being used to dismantle hard-earned labour rights and the welfare state.

A radical alternative strategy includes economic stimulus, reconstruction of public services, faster fundamental reform of banks and financial markets, the elimination of corporate welfare that enriches big business, and strategies to increase labour’s share of national income.


This important book is now available in paperback with full colour graphics, price £15.00 from http://www.spokesmanbooks.com/acatalog/Dexter_Whitfield.html and from Amazon books – ISBN 978 0 85124 8417

Buy the Book

You may buy the ebook direct from Unmasking Austerity : Spokesman Books or Unmasking Austerity : Amazon UK.


Unmasking Austerity: Opposing and Alternatives in Europe and North America exposes the failure and harmful effects of austerity and neoliberal policies. It shows how financial institutions, the International Monetary Fund, European Union, European Central Bank and governments imposed job losses and mass unemployment; wage, pension and welfare benefit cuts; and foreclosures and evictions on the poor and working class, who were forced to bear the brunt of the worst recession in over sixty years.

We now hear claims of ‘growth’ and ‘recovery’ by governments intent on maintaining austerity conditions for the foreseeable future. There is no commitment to restore what has been cut, closed or withdrawn.

Unmasking Austerity demonstrates how austerity policies have fuelled the fire of recession rather than stimulated growth. It examines austerity strategies in Europe and the US and assesses their economic and social effects. It explains why austerity failed and how the neoliberal reconfiguring of public services and the welfare state ran parallel to austerity policies.

Opposing Austerity identifies the key lessons from organising and action against austerity policies and challenges to the neoliberal transformation of public services and welfare states. It raises wider and longer-term issues about the way in which trade unions, community, civil society organisations and social movements mobilise and organise, widen support and build stronger alliances.

Alternatives to Austerity sets out an alternative to austerity through economic stimulus, reconstruction of public services and the welfare state, faster fundamental reform of banks and financial markets, the elimination of corporate welfare and strategies to increase the labour share of national income.

Exposing Causes, Contradictions and Conflicts discusses the deeper causes of the financial crisis and the manufactured crises being used to further dismantle hard-earned labour rights and the welfare state. It examines four of the contradictions and conflicts evident when campaigning for alternative policies to austerity and neoliberalism. The chapter concludes by calling for a radical rethink of trade union, community and social movement organising and action strategies.

Chapters 1-3 were originally published as separate briefings in Australia to widen understanding of the effects of austerity policies and the strategies needed to oppose to them. They have been updated together with the addition of the fourth chapter.

  • Published April 2014

  • Price £9.99

  • Format: eBook

  • ISBN: 978 0 85124 832 5

  • 134 pages, 8 Tables and 18 Figures


Chapter 1: Unmasking Austerity

Key findings
The switch from stimulus to austerity
Cause of the financial crisis
Why austerity failed
Government debt continued to increase
Less demand in the economy
Negative or weak growth
Connected economies
The economic and social effects of Austerity
Soaring economic costs
Rising unemployment
Public sector job loses
Cuts in wages and benefits
Closures and business failures
Financial crisis of towns and cities
Foreclosures and house price slump
Damage to health
Poverty and widening inequality
Bank bondholders protected except in Iceland
Meanwhile corporate profits rise, share price highs and cash hoarding
Reconfiguring public services and the welfare state
Embedding corporate welfare
Lessons learnt

Chapter 2: Opposing Austerity: Organising and Action Strategies

Key findings
Challenges in opposing austerity policies
Private sector failure - public bear the cost
Pre-crisis laws exposed
Cultural and political differences
Post Austerity conditions
Key responses in Europe and North America 2008-2013
Significant struggles against austerity
Action against public spending cuts and privatisation
Opposition to privatisation
New organising strategies
Key issues and future strategies
Opposing austerity and neoliberal transformation in the public sector

Chapter 3: Alternatives to Austerity

Key findings
The alternative to austerity
The need for an alternative
Short-term fiscal stimulus initiatives
Economic stimulus and investment
Economic stimulus and investment
Industrial investment and innovation
Clean energy economy
Public ownership and provision
Welfare state to tackle inequalities
The benefits of public investment
International cooperation
Basic principles
Reconstructing the state and public services
Closing the pathways to privatisation
Public sector enterprise and innovation
Democratic governance, accountability, participation and transparency
Quality employment and collective bargaining
Public finance and fiscal crisis of cities
Debt reduction and restructuring
Reform of financial system
Regulation and reform of banks
Shadow banking
Credit Ratings Agencies
Financial Transaction Tax
Tax avoidance/evasion reform
VAT added tax gap
Radical reduction in corporate welfare
Re-investing corporate cash hoardings
Reversing corporate tax cuts
Increasing labours share of national income
Falling labour share of GDP
Causes of falling labour share
How to increase labour share of national income
Key lessons

Chapter 4: Exposing causes, contradictions and conflicts

Causes and manufactured crises
Contradictions and conflicts
Labour market reform, but greater dependence on the welfare state
'Smaller state' but bigger role in the economy
Localism and transparency or centralisation and secrecy
Corporate welfare or public resources
Rethinking strategies


Sebastian Schipper, Bauhaus-University Weimar: International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Vol.39, Issue 3, 653-654

“The central strengths of Unmasking Austerity lie in its detailed but compactoverview of both the numerous austerity policies and resulting social protests that have erupted across Europe and North America since the beginning of the global financial crisis, as well as in its offer of a concrete political alternative to further neoliberal restructuring. For these reasons, Whitfield has published a significant book worth recommending, not only to academics and urban scholars, but also to a much broader audience of social movement activists, trade unionists and indeed all people engaged in unmasking the claim that there is no alternative to austerity.”

Dave Putson, THE PROJECT, a Socialist Journal, July 2014

“It is full of detailed well researched and explosive exposes of neoliberalism and faux austerity"........... “this is a seriously muscular work which is both compelling and painful in equal measure”

Edward Dingwall, Red Pepper, October-November 2015, No. 204

“…He offers another account of the massive transfer of wealth that took place when financial speculation emerged as crisis, and the early and disparate ‘anti-austerity’ flashpoints such as the Occupy camps, student protests and isolated strikes. While such initiatives seemed to staff, Whitfield sees how their energy actually spread into new connections, cross-pollinating alternative ideas and methods. His ready acknowledgment of these developments and their potential power is more forward-thinking than many other public services scholars. His proposals for organisational reform, priorities and effective economic levers are familiar, though, even if he ties them together more neatly than others manage.”


Unmasking austerity and organising for new challenges, Dexter Whitfield

We need to draw lessons from the strategies used to oppose austerity policies and neoliberal ‘transformation’ of public services. New challenges include reversing the decline in labour share of national income and the slow pace of financial market reforms. Opposition to transnational free trade agreements must be strengthened. “New approaches to organising, building alliances and action strategies will require ideological and cultural change within trade unions, community and civil society organisations. Since ‘business as usual’ is not a viable public service option, neither is it an option for organisations opposing austerity and neoliberalism”. False Economy, September 2014. http://falseeconomy.org.uk/blog/unmasking-austerity-and-organising-for-new-cha llenges- dexter-whitfield


European Services Strategy Unit, Duagh, Camp, Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland.
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This document was created by Chris Croome on 2014-04-18 17:47:22.
This document was last modified by Dexter Whitfield on 2016-02-12 16:39:23.
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