More than Slouching towards a Crisis
Things are picking up pace now. For the past year, I've been sounding (I know) like some 'moaning weirdo' about the very real issues that the West faces. I can of course do nothing about them, I am, like the vast majority of the inhabitants of the world impotent in the face of things. I have eyes to see, though, and at least this odd combination of commonplace book and diary that a blog is can put that down for you, should you wish to plough on.
The present collapse of our souffle economy is just a preliminary to an absolutely inevitable adjustment. We have had eight years of deficits, spending growth, and the mortgaging of the British and American states to over indebted economies. The banks, if one looks at the rates of interest they impose upon loans to each other, and to their attempt to retract their own exposure to the global economy, have seen it coming for some time. Sovereign funds in the east are not a sign of the east's great power. They illustrate that the cold and sober minds over there have worked out that they need to gather the fruits of their mad dash to the commands of their state before these monies slip away.
We have had some forty years of self indulgent social dissipation and the grinding of anybody who actually makes anything or works hard for a living. We have had the fundamental readjustment of the world economy to the other side of a valley it entered into around about 1757, when European Empires enslaved China and India and pressed deep into North America. And we have had a sustained Islamic revival coinciding with a western demographic crisis and the beginning of the end of the age of oil.
This has, if one narrows the focus, resulted in several deeply worrying trends. One is the creation of two arcs of instability. One stretches roughly along the lines of the old Islamic and Moghul Empires, from Pakistan across the near east and into North and East Africa and the Balkans and Caucasus. It is mainly but not wholly associated with the rise of salafist islam, saudi wahabism, and globalised jihadis. Western energy and defence interests have also had some role, as has a certain imperialism of human rights and non-governmental organisations, in contributing to the tensions of this primary arc.
It is also hard not to note two particular contributory developments. One is the rise of a radical Islamic regime centred upon Persia. The second is the fact that the area in question is full of young men, with little hope of economic self improvement, many of whom are fed hatred of Jews as a substitute for a job.
The second arc of instability stretches from those areas in the Pacific about to be overwhelmed by climate change and sea level rise, through papua and Indonesia, and up into Burma. Its shadow falls across the wigou regions of China and into parts of Bangladesh.
The combination of these two arcs with the destabilisation of the world economy and the obsessional diversion of the west into palestinian, environmental and anti religious channels of delusion has been breathtaking. Amazing things are happening in the world that flash and flare all along the watchlines of the stable and developed parts of the world and no one is paying any attention.
To an extent, this is because the West has seen a naked assertion of the obsessions and interests of a small class of institutionalised people educated in an anaemic social science and flattered by a media run by the same people that locks out the opinions of most of the populations. Most of the peoples are in any event too busy paying off debt and working in the spirals of a corporate world that has absolutely no concern for them to do anything about things anyway, and all are from time to time flattered by the delusion that the law alone can provide rights even if people have lost economic and social power and confidence to vast concerns.
The woman complaining to the undereducated youth about a mispriced video in sainsburys whilst the manager is preparing to impose his judgment on both is as much a part of this fractal process as the taxpayers forced to pay out for failed banks or Washington lobbyists. However much one talks of empowerment through rights or the courts, very few people are going to be actually empowered in this weird, convenient corporate dreamland that the west lives in whilst the skies are darkening and waves are building outside. Somewhere along the line, governments lost their nerve and legitimacy and citizens and humans became consumers and sometime litigants. Those identities are no substitutes for each other.
And so we go on, and live out our lives, and some cleave to God and some to family and some try to start living rather than continue dying. But really, what is coming? What is it that people are sensing when they displace into pointless appeals to recycle or reform or give up pleasures or conform to roles that seem stripped of the contradictions and complications of the humane life?
There are wars all over the planet. In March, after Spanish elections release the EU from the restraint of effecting the destruction of Serbia because it might encourage those who would break up Spain, Russia and the west may be on a collision course. There are still individuals who want to force a confrontation with Iran, both in the west and in Iran, in the straits of Hormuz and elsewhere. The surge of force in our name in Iraq and Afghanistan in part has delivered the appearance of success because it has been predicated upon turning one group of ethnic militants upon others. What happens when they turn again, on us?
The west's breach of the principle of sovereignty between states, and our vaunted doctrines of interventionsism and humanitarian invasions that coincide with our economic interests, have undermined the most basic building block of respect between states and therefore between peoples whilst putting nothing consistent in its place.
What a mix. What a fix. Place the adjustment of markets to a monetarily inflated world economy--to collapse in a powered descent--against the frantic attempts of governments to reinflate the economy by pumping even more money in, and you have the beginnings of a scenario not unlike that at the end of the Ancien regime or the sixteenth century. Are we Honorious contemplating the Teutons on the seventh hill or Horatius at the bridge?
Yet for all my gloom recently, I've discovered hope here and there too. In odd places. In the love my friends have shown for those they love; in the stolen kisses of couples in doorways, and in the determination of the old to get to the shops, and in the determination of people to get on with things and in the faith I share with people every Sunday in the little Catholic church I go to down the road in wandsworth. When Honorius' Rome fell, after all, Augustine wrote the City of God and those who knew Rome's crimes over the years could at least contemplate a sort of redemption in the republic of love. True to form, we are told, Honorius actually thought it was his chicken, Roma, who had died.
This is a dangerous moment, but most moments in human history have been dangerous, and things are dark but for most of the world's population they may seem so at any given time, if not by the same measures. Something very great has been happening for the past couple of years, however, and I can't help but think that the sound of all those drums I have been going on about for the past year is getting louder and louder. Maybe you'll hear them by Easter. Hold close to those who love you when you do.