Let’s address the future & not the past
26 March 2023
ADELAIDE - The last 30 years or so have been dominated by the idea that the market is the infallible distributor of goods and services, with government's essentially reduced to the role of bystanders.
An entire generation of politicians has grown up with this idea firmly in their minds, especially amongst the conservatives.
In the world's Western democracies, the result has been a spectacular binge of consumerism laced with heavy doses of hubris, sanctimony and indulgence.
The authoritarian regimes have followed suit as best they could and many have created a rapacious economic elite as well as lifting many people out of abject poverty.
To fund this post-Cold War extravaganza of consumption, the world's financial system has succeeded in generating levels of debt never seen before in human history.
Now, in the immediate aftermath of the initial impact of the Covid pandemic many of the basic socio-economic flaws and fissures that arise with unbridled consumerism have begun to be revealed.
The deeply destructive environmental impact of a rampant consumption based economy is at last becoming manifest, yet the truth of years of scientific warnings is denied or honoured merely with words rather than action.
Simultaneously, some of the oldest, most deplorable and most dangerous of human ideas - such as ultranationalism and its partner racism as well as imperialism - have emerged once more.
All this is the context for the stream of bad news that assaults us on a daily basis.
The world is being assailed by climate phenomena of unparalleled ferocity including, most recently, the most powerful and long-lasting cyclone ever recorded.
In the last week, three United States’ banks failed. They were previously were thought to be safe organisations with which to deposit money.
Only rapid action by the US government has prevented the market imposing its own far more drastic solution to the problem.
Despite this, it is clear that other major banks are in some jeopardy, most notably the gigantic Credit Suisse Bank, which is regarded as systemically significant.
In other words, if it fails, it may drag down the whole elaborate financial house of cards with it.
Turning away from this because it is too dispiriting will, as Phil Fitzpatrick has suggested, merely encourage people who have clear, simple and entirely wrong solutions to offer a wearied and fearful populace.
We have been down this road before in the 1930's and the results were ugly.
Let's hope that those who are now rising to positions of power and authority do not unwittingly repeat the mistakes of the past.
"Under conditions of tyranny it is much easier to act than think" - Hannah Arendt
Posted by: Bernard Corden | 26 March 2023 at 12:13 PM