To be reissued when Boris Johnson becomes prime minister of the UK:
As you know, Britain is due to go over to a new system on Jan 1, 2020. it’s called Bankruptcy.
The system we’ve been using up to now, which we call Solvency, hasn’t been working too well. lt lost us a lot of money and caused a lot of debts. So it obviously wasn’t much good, was it?
But now we are going to try a completely new way of organising the economy. You might find it a little puzzling at first, so I’m going to do my best to make it easy for you.
After all, you thought Decimalisation was going to be the end of the world, didn’t you? And it wasn’t, was it? Not yet, anyway.
Why change over?
lt isn’t really very long, only sixty or seventy years, since Britain was _a very rich country, with overseas colonies supplying us cheap raw materials and the world buying our manufactured exports. Now we are a pretty poor country, with us relying on expensive raw materials and
the world buying only our experts. Well, now, if we want to get back to our old freedom from money matters, there are two possible solutions. One is to go out and conquer lots more countries and get cheap commodities again, and I don’t mind telling you that the United Nations would take a pretty poor view of that! And Mr Trump would be along like a shot, asking us what we were up to, and you know what he’s like once he gets talking. He’d never give us enough spare time to exploit anything.
So we have to take the other solution, which is simply to ignore money altogether.
Can we do without money?
We would be much better off without money. Money leads to inflation, shortages, deficits, high interest rates and currency speculation. Yet money, after all, is only the accounting system we use at the moment to measure international trade and there is no reason why we should stick to it. There are other systems, so why not try one if money is so obviously not working ?
Britain has decided to strike out first and adopt a new system.
How will it work?
Starting on Jan 1, 2020, we will declare ourselves officially bankrupt. This means we have no obligation to pay any debts to anyone in the world. No money will leave Britain. lf anyone says to you after Jan 1, ”Look, you owe me £ 700,000 for the copper you bought last year, and that’s just the interest, mate,” just say to him: ”I’m sorry. We are bankrupt. This is a new system which means you don’t get anything from me. Bad luck.”
One advantage of this will be that the economy will be so much easier to work out. At the moment no-one really know how much money we have, because of invisible asset, fluctuating rates, floating money, things like that.
After Jan 1, 2020, we still won’t know, but it won’t matter any more, because we just write off the debit column and forget about it.
What about our assets ?
We will have to write off our assets as well, but luckily for us they are much smaller.
How do we buy things then?
We won’t need to buy very much by then, because of the preliminary planning stages which come into effect before 2020. Usually, you see, we get our raw materials in regular small supplies because we haven’t got enough money to pay for a huge amount. But to prepare for Bankruptcy we shall be ordering enough commodities to last us for years and years, during 2019. lt will
all be bought on credit. By Jan 1, 2020, we shall be fully stocked up for the foreseeable future, but when the bills start coming in, the new system of Bankruptcy will mean we won’t have to pay them.
You mean, we ‘re going to order everything we need, and then refuse to pay?
But that’s unethical. .
Only under the old system. Not under Bankruptcy.
How will internal trade work? Will we go back to barter?
Not quite. We envisage a system of do-it-yourself banknotes, whereby after a deal you write out to the customer a banknote with the agreed value on.
This is the same as cheques.
Not quite. Not if the banknote says “I promise to pay the bearer three sheep and a sack of apples.”
Paper barter, in fact?
Will England be wealthier under Bankruptcy ?
The word ”wealthy” will no longer mean anything. Britain will seem to be worse off. There will be fewer new goods around and not many banks. But it will be a much healthier place, because everything will be real.
This is really a disguised way of turning the clock back four centuries.
If there’s anything wrong with going back to the time of Shakespeare, Good Queen Bess and South American treasure, let us know. Of course there will be a few teething troubles, and some people may find themselves temporarily hard up as they retrain to be thatchers, cordwainers or highwaymen, and we do expect the odd massacre, pestilence, religious pogrom and mass emigration. But when things settle down, we are confident that society will be happy and stable. At around 15 million population or so. We shall then have all the romance of an earlier age. People will brew their own beer, bake their own bread and grow their own vegetables.
They won’t have any choice, will they?
No. But have you tasted mass produced beer or bread recently ? Modern technology will be phased out naturally – in other words, no more pollution, poisonous chemicals, wasted natural resources, traffic accidents or Miss World on TV.
Or antibiotics, pesticides, printed books, ambulances or Beethoven records.
Well, you win a few, you lose a few. The sonnet could come back into fashion. And ruffs look really good on a man.
But you said we would be better off without money?
Those of us who are left will be. No mortgages, hire purchase, overdrafts, monthly instalments, car insurance, parking fines .
But won ‘t life be harsh, wearing and a constant struggle?
So what’s new ? The way things are going at the moment, the world is heading for a spectacular crash. Only Britain is guarding against the crash by preparing for a new system which is guaranteed the same, year in, year out. Did they have Wall Street crashes in the Middle Ages?
Under Bankruptcy, Britain will be small and viable again.
I think you may be right. How can I guarantee to be one of the lucky fifteen million survivors ?
Just send up for our free pamphlet ”Wouldn’t it be great to reach 2021?”. Meanwhile, start learning to make your own clothes and lay bricks. lt’s going to be a wonderful time for initiative and imagination under Bankruptcy.
(the original text is from Punch July 17, 1974)