CAN'T PAY, WON'T PAY!
Director(s): Xavier VILLETARD – Writer(s): Xavier VILLETARD, Gérard NOIRIEL Contact Print page
The struggle between the people in European nations and their rulers when it came to paying taxes.
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and the austerity policies that accompanied it all over Europe, popular "revolts" set the continent ablaze each in their own way, Brexiters in Great Britain, Yellow Vests in France or those who were left behind by reunification in Germany…
It revealed the growing mistrust between citizens and those who govern them. Tax is at the heart of these conflicts.
Since the Middle Ages, everywhere in Europe, the people opposed their rulers when it came to making them pay taxes. It is this tumultuous history that is told in this two-part film, shot in France, Germany and the UK.
_PART 1: FROM THE MIDDLE AGES TO THE 1970s
Starting with the Hundred Years’ War, the film looks back on the very long battle for redistribution which saw the emergence of an embryo democracy in the United Kingdom.
During the course of revolts and revolutions of which taxation was often the detonator, we see how societies were transformed. Over subsequent wars, astronomical sums were spent on behalf of the English, German and French peoples, sums which would have to be reimbursed. States gradually took to using tax as an instrument to be used to reduce inequalities between their citizens. This battle for redistribution entered a golden age after WW2 and the advent of the “welfare state”.
_PART 2: FROM THE 1980s TO PRESENT DAY
The UK in the 1980s was determined to destroy the welfare state through neo-liberal policies. This ideology soon spread to the rest of the world. Markets became more powerful than states. The burden of redistributive direct taxation decreased in favour of increasing indirect taxation and legal and illegal tax evasion. The people felt cheated.
The COVID debt brought a change and is likely to force states to review the neoliberal paradigm, posing essentially two simple questions, always the same since the Middle Ages: where do the tax monies go? And what kind of society will it allow us to build?
button 1: part 1
button 2: part 2