Friday, November 11, 2011

Lovely, Wonderful Thoughts

"I say, how do you do it?" asked John, rubbing his knee. He was quite a practical boy.

"You just think lovely wonderful thoughts," Peter explained, "and they lift you up in the air."  - Peter Pan and Wendy

Well, well.  I'm hardly the first to note the irony that a vague and nebulous concept - "markets" - has unseated the Italian Prime Minister, a feat that innumerable opposition politicians, crusading journalists, police and prosecutors couldn't achieve after years of hard work.

Funny, that a general air of international unease and an outbreak of unlovely, nasty thoughts about interrupted cashflows have brought Berlusconi crashing down out of the sky, while his epic reign of misrule, corruption and venality was like a big, fat baggie of high-grade fairy dust for world finance. 

What lessons can we draw from this, do we think?  I look from our domestic debt industry, with its aggressive lending practices and cheerful lawsuits for decades-long repayment, and to the IMF, and from IMF to debt industry, and from debt industry to the IMF again, but already I'm having a hard time saying which is which.

Call me paranoid if you will, but I'm inclined to dust off that old saw about times of crisis exposing the true face of power, myself, and to start rambling about how the world is ruled from Davos rather than, say, Turtle Bay.

So.  I imagine there are damn few Italians - or Irishmen, Greeks or Icelanders, for that matter - who can recall voting for wild liberalisation, an orgy of aristocratic greed and avarice, followed by near-total economic collapse and rule by diktat from the IMF...  And fair dues - if I was a politician, I would've left that out of the manifesto too.

I hear many voices pronouncing that this is finally Bedtime For Democracy, but I think that's wrongheaded. To me, our present situation looks a lot more like a sudden realisation that modern democracy comes in whatever colour we want, so long as it's black.

It is, after all, impossible to usurp a system that doesn't exist. 

I don't know, perhaps I'm over-egging the pudding, as well as the pop culture allusions. Maybe we should wait until some game nation decides to default, rather spending the next few decades shovelling fairy dust and trying to think lovely, wonderful thoughts.  I think that would be an instructive moment for us all.

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