All Matters Greater Than Us

It’s hard to turn a corner at the moment without bumping into some seminal event or other. Sometimes it can be nigh on impossible to build some enthusiasm for discussing the more banal issues and yet adversely I’m now overwhelmed and intimidated by the sheer quantity of incoming things of import. Where to begin? With an apology perhaps as each issue herein deserves individual attention but who the hell has the time!?

Paid writers, that’s who. But I’m not bitter. I’m still young, haven’t been doing this for that long, so there’s plenty of time to nurture my enmity for those who can pass their time as I would love to. Onto the actual stories of late, and three stand out in my estimations. The election of the new Pope Francis I, one Jorge Borgoglio of Argentina, the agreement on press regulation measures between the UK’s political leaders and the impending fiscal crisis coming out of Cyprus.

What is there to say about the new heartthrob of Catholicism? In a previous article I mentioned that all things Catholic have an almost completely indirect meaning to me, but that isn’t really true. Having hoped that the new Bishop of Rome would be a moderniser, without any substantive reason to believe this would actually happen, what we have in the end is a very austere and traditional figure who will likely only reinforce a lot of damaging values.

Homosexuals, women and the developing world will all have to wait for this rather archaic and hegemonic institution to liberate it’s flock from superstition and baseless propositions of moral authority. Pope Francis is already being lauded for his humility and stated mission of returning the faith to its roots, but it won’t last long. Every sermon denouncing gays and birth control will remind all that Catholicism is ultimately doomed for its anachronisms.

The scene of his coronation was exceptionally telling. A balcony full of old men, ordaining an old man with the powers of a faith system designed to empower, you got it, old men. If I was to say one thing in favour of Pope Francis is that I imagine he will be a fairly vocal critic of international super-wealth and the institutional corruption of the banking system that led the global village into dark economic times. It’s not much, but it is something.

As for the endless saga that has been the Leveson Inquiry, this one hits awfully too close to home for comfort. There are already whispers that this highly curious tripartite agreement between messirs Cameron, Clegg and Miliband spells potential doom for freedom of speech across all media. The papers have come in their droves to criticise the proposed measures and call attention to their dangerous implications.

Indeed, in a month or a year or a decades time, will I be able to write on this blog with absolute freedom, providing I’m not libellous? The calmer disposition says yes, and that the Royal Charter will only hit the true offenders, but I am still nervous. I say more than enough to offend those of certain views and the thought of having ‘exemplary damages’ taken against me is scary. Should I already begin tempering my thoughts out of fear?

Of course not. If I have faith in my critique as an honest expression of my beliefs, devoid of lies and slander then I should have nothing to fear. We’ll see. I always thought the existing law could have been enough to regulate the actions of unscrupulous journalists, if properly enforced, and what I see in the deal now is something of a coup for people like Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan and Max Mosley. As if the super-injunction wasn’t enough, they’re now protected to the hilt. Insult if you dare.

So finally Cyprus, the EU and the ever-gloomy outlook of the international economy. This is the issue that best encapsulates a loose theme I was pondering across these seemingly disassociated things. A great event occurs that I will have utterly no impact on as an individual but will likely, even if by degrees of separation, have a profound impact on me. It’s frustrating, and more so in this case because it’s so difficult to understand.

The bare bones are easy enough I suppose, in exchange for a 10bn euro bailout from the EU, Cyprus needs to produce somewhere over 5bn euros from bank levies. This is hugely controversial, deposit protection having been originally agreed as an internationally safeguarded measure to prevent runs on the banks, and indeed the Cypriot government yesterday voted against any such action being taken.

They had Merkel screaming in one ear to produce the goods and Putin screaming in the other for a different purpose. With 40% of the deposit wealth of Cypriot banks belonging to rich Russians, a bank levy would effectively be stealing Russian money, the provenance of which is broadly being called into question. Destitute Cyprus is now expected to appeal directly to Russia in light of their graciously being a haven for dirty roubles.

It is a desperately serious situation and all I can be is a spectator. I have nothing to offer on this matter, no original thought or bright idea that could serve to fix all of this. I’ll leave you with the thought that it’s possible no one does. All the while we hope there is someone with their finger on the pulse of these issues, working towards solutions, but this is all new territory. Let’s hope the intrepid politicians of the EU can pull something out of their rectums.

While it could be an unavoidable fact of life, I tire very quickly of external forces. All any one of us ever asked for was stability and degree of control over our own lives. I start to feel a little anarchic when confronted with all these concerns, almost entirely the product of the mistakes of others in far flung places. In today’s world the failures of faith and politics come back to visit us all.

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3 Comments

Filed under Current Affairs, Politics

3 responses to “All Matters Greater Than Us

  1. Just a short comment on the Cyprus issue: would you say that the intractability of the problem should lead us to conclude that these malfunctions (the occasional stalls and shudders of the circulation of European capital) are actually inherent to the economic system as opposed to an aberration? Or can you imagine a way market economics could be properly managed so as to prevent these situations from occurring? It seems to me that today almost everyone (aside from some free market fundamentalists) accepts that capitalism produces periodic catastrophes as part of its ‘normal’ functioning.

  2. Good question. Would neither inherent or an aberration be an acceptable answer? In all honesty I don’t possess enough expertise on this matter, but as far as I can see, all of the problems of the last few years were the result of a corruption of capitalism.

    Which is to say it isn’t strictly related to capitalism, but rather the abuse of positive values within capitalism. Free markets, free trade and all the good things about the model I believe are actually good.

    What is very bad indeed is the proliferation of dangerous and greedy practices that jeopardize an otherwise sound system. Failures of regulation are clearly at the heart of that problem, but what about this for idea….

    Five years from the onset of this global crisis we’re certainly not doing exceptionally better. Where does all the of the manipulation and intervention, potentially translatable as neo-Keynsian fuckwittery, play into the new set of problems? As said in the article, does anyone really know what they’re doing here?

    Could the core tenants of capitalism, if properly serviced and with an understanding that there are losers in such a system, have more effectively resolved things if allowed to function?

    The acceptance that capitalism is the “boom and bust” model has a ring of precedence about it, but then I would look to the underlying causes of that pattern and the specifics of each case of boom or bust. I think some interesting fiscal exploits could be found as more responsible than just an intrinsic inevitability.

    Regulation is the key. Fully functioning, robust regulation and long term planning. None of this would have happened had this been the case. That’s my leap of faith.

  3. A leap of faith indeed! I would like to tentatively suggest that the position outlined above is perhaps the dominant form of utopianism today: a utopianism which imagines the possibility of a properly functioning market economy! One can certainly look at the specifics of each particular bust and identify the numerous processes which can be said to have ’caused’ it, however, I am skeptical as to whether this kind of analysis will ever lead us to a reformed, smoothly functioning capitalism which produces a neatly balanced level of wealth without producing a destabilising concentration of wealth. Capitalism, as part of its inherent dynamic, generates an excess which cannot be reigned in or accommodated. That is to say, one cannot have a banking system without having some greedy bankers since greedy bankers are (during periods of growth) good for business. The same logic which produces wealth during a boom systematically causes mass impoverishment during a bust. Didn’t the myth of the possibility of a ‘bust free’, harmonised, finely regulated capitalism die with Gordon Brown’s political career?
    If you still disagree and continue to sympathise with the Brownite position, I wonder (sort of playing devils advocate here) what kind of socio-economic crisis would be severe enough to convince you that capitalism was a failure in itself and not merely being incorrectly implemented? How bad would things have to get for us to consider market economics as basically defunct? Of course, this is just a thought experiment since plenty of people still do fairly well out of market economics… not the majority, but a fairly large proportion nonetheless.

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