From the first Red Scare in the US, terms like ‘communism’, ‘socialism’, and ‘anarchism’ have been subject to suspicion and scrutiny. Despite describing common views, they are considered subversive, chaotic and threatening, and cause others to be wary. Many of society’s role models, however, have been communists – especially those most associated with struggles against oppression, imperialism and bigotry. Forgetting this is no accident: when centrists and the right-wing express a shared sense of pride for achievements in activism, they place history under a rose-tinted lens, carefully side-stepping mention of their role in enforcing the barriers which required lifting in the first place.
Why, 10 years after a crisis of capitalism that has entrenched inequalities and insecurity, does the left still struggle to convince a sceptical public that an alternative economics is possible? That question was the focus of one of several intriguing sessions at The Norwich Radical’s recent War of Words conference. A new report by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) attempts to answer it.
Framing the Economy argues that progressives need to spend less time discussing the detail of economic policy and more on telling simple stories about how the economy works that people can understand. The project grew from a recognition that the right has long been better than the left at presenting ‘common sense’ understandings economic mechanisms.