Susan George: The Story behind my new Book
Good news for Susan George fans: Her new political satire, “How to win the Class War”, is about to be published. In part one of this exclusive video interview, Susan George talks about the story behind the sequel to The Lugano Report.
"What is the story behind your new book?”
Susan George: "What was the first Lugano Report? This was my contribution to the millennium. In 1998, there already was a huge fuss about the millennium. People were making stupid predictions that the world will come to an end, more or less, at midnight before the year 2000.
"Lots of people were making predictions and I thought what we need is something..., what I need is something that will allow me to go further than I have gone in my essay type books, and write a fake report. That was the idea. A 'factual fiction' as I now call it, but a fake report written by a fake working group for a bunch of fake commissioners, who were asking a single question. And their question for the millennium was: ‘How can we make capitalism invulnerable in the 21st century?’
"The first Lugano Report was the answer to that. And the answer is not a pretty one. The answer was basically given the financial, social, and ecological mess that we were already in in 1999. You cannot do it with 8 billion people on earth. So either you change your question and your system. You say ‘How can we have a different sort of economy?’ Or you’ll have to get of rid quite a lot of 'useless, unproductive people', who are hopeless from capitalism’s point of view. Worthless. So this solution is not Hitlerian, it is not putting people in concentration camps. It is just letting nature take its course and create more and more inequality, so that those people really do not matter to those who have anything at all. This would take care of the so-called population problem, which in a normal society does not have to be a population problem.
The answer is not a pretty one
"Well that was the first Lugano Report. This book did very well in some countries like France and Spain. Since then, people, particularly, because I live in France - I am a French citizen - and my friends and fans said ‘Why wouldn’t you write another one?’. They started saying this to me in 2010. And I thought “No, I don’t go back to things and do sequels and somewhat”. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought that we really did need something like that.
"And again I decided to write another fake report by the same group that is meeting in a very beautiful, very calm and discrete villa in Lugano above Lake Lugano in Switzerland. They have privacy and they have everything they need and this is where they are working. It is a group of about 10 people. In the second group, there are a couple of women. Before there were not any women at all, but this time they have admitted two very smart women. You do not see the process of their work. The Commissioners write a letter to them saying ‘This time, what we are asking you - and we appreciated your previous report - this time, we want to know ‘Is there a terminal decline in the West or can Western capitalism rise again and once more...’ (more or less, they do not say it that way but more or less) ‘...dominate the world?’.
"And so the second report is an answer to a question which has become quite different in a world which is now almost entirely given over to neoliberalism. There are very few governments anywhere that are not neoliberal governments and are not practicing the kind of economy that neoliberals practice - this is to say the market should make all of the decisions, inequalities do not matter, there will be general enrichment if you allow the market to make these decisions, because the floor will move up for everyone so people will not revolt, they will be perfectly o.k., you won't have social problems, you'll find solutions to ecological problems in technology. This kind of ideology goes on further than that, and I give a fuller description. So that’s the story of the inception of the book.
The market should make all of the decisions, inequalities do not matter, there will be general enrichment...
"Why is it called ‘How to Win the Class War’? Because I like the quote from Warren Buffett, who is a very outspoken, as you know, very rich man, said about three years ago: “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning”. And that's honest. He is absolutely right. They are winning. The rich class has won through using the neoliberal ideology. The answer to the question is written in the interests of those people who now run the world. That tiny, tiny slice of very powerful and wealthy people that I call the ‘Davos Class’. They are the ones winning the war and they are the ones running the world. So the answer and I am not going to tell you the entire answer to it, but it is a technique that allowed me to go further than I would otherwise be able to go."
In the next editions Susan George will talk about: What one can learn from reading this book (Part 2), How it felt to be in the shoes of the commissioners (Part 3), What effect this book might have (Part 4)