The Moral Economy

Remember the moral economy?

Back in the 18th century when

Citizens would register anger

At unjust wages and unfair prices

With protests, demonstrations, gatherings,

Rioting, strikes, and beating pots and pans

In a cacophony of rough music,

With carnival skimmington processions,

And letters to the landlords and the rich

With a repertoire of collective dissent.

This was the expression and practice

Of the moral economy at work and play:

The belief in ethics and morality,

In justice, fair play and commonality,

Rather than the ‘laws’ of supply and demand:

The red in tooth and claw market forces

Of profit-seeking capitalism.

Remember William Blake:

‘To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower’?

The Heavens, the Long Table, Doverow Hill,

Juniper Hill, Cirencester Park,

Food banks, the cost-of-living crisis:

Once more the moral economy

Is confronted by the search for profit.

What next in the repertoire of dissent,

From the proud traditions and heritage

Of the moral economy?

What next?