Austerity

By Musa Askari

AUSTERITY is not a straight line. It twists and turns through local communities with the goal to hollow out oversight, investment, good governance and social cohesion. The worrying potential being of isolating communities from each other and local councils prone to what can be unfair criticism from residents.

One cannot cut local council budgets and not expect issues to develop within communities even after allowing for personal responsibility and accountability at an individual level.

If we want good local services, if we want safe communities we must invest in those communities not only financially but with our Heart and Soul. This is to me integration as an Act of Beauty from our Heart and Soul, not a demand for assimilation with all the drawbacks that invokes.

The call for lower taxes ignores the costs those (the many) unable to benefit from such tax cuts have to bear. Has this not been the undercurrent of public finances for over a decade?

Those who champion for smaller government at a local and national level cannot fail to see it is those very institutions we turn to in the public sphere as a powerful manifestation of the “Common Good”.

For that which is truly “Good” requires a Universal quality transcending boundaries of collective identity. By being Universal it will be over and above all outer identities of culture, language, ethnicity, religion or humanist. An Ideal Form.

This is the only way we may justly call it the “Common Good”; accessible to all, expressed through all. Now we may know one another better. In inter faith dialogue this comes to be known as “Encounter” and “Mutual Mission”.

The slogan of no taxation without fair representation is being replaced by simply no taxation and no representation. What then is the Common Woman and Man to do? One shudders at the question.

The challenges of the present hour for decent human material survival demand ironically that we first awaken to a vision within us all, a non-material, intangible vision of “The Common Human Good.”

The words of the great mystic-philosopher Plotinus (father of Neoplatonism) are a good place to start in my view. He writes….

“This is not a journey for the feet; the feet bring us only from land to land; nor need you think of coach or ship to carry you away; all this order of things you must set aside and refuse to see; you must close the eyes and call instead upon another vision which is to be waked within you, a vision, the birthright of all, which few turn to see.” (The Enneads)

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