Saturday, November 08, 2008


die da oben sitzen, oben nur weil jene unten sitzen,
….those on top sit up there only because the others sit below
Bertold Brecht

Crisis, doom, gloom, panic, freefall, meltdown, catastrophe, disaster, despair, the abyss. Oh the crisis the crisis the infernal crisis ! Oh how the mighty have fallen ! By now the names have almost engender quasi- lyrical connotations of disaster on a grand scale : Northern Rock, Merril Lynch, Fanny Mae, Fanny Mac, Lehman Brothers, the great Titans of the world economy, either on the brink or consigned to the dustbin of history. For most of us, consumed as we are with the inevitable chores of daily life, the interminable labour we perform for food and raiment, the crisis is really something that doesn’t concern us. It has something to do with those guys we see on the Tele, sweating and fretting over frantically fluctuating figures on overhead monitors. Very few people understand the financial markets, the Nasdac, the Dow Jones etc, and it is precisely this pandemic ignorance which allows the traders, bankers, stock brokers and investors to clandestinely determine the fate of the planet. The bankers are the rulers of the earth and as such they could be said to have the status of gods. Just like the gods, they rarely make an appearance in public, preferring to keep a low profile. Instead, they communicate with us mere mortals through their obsequious emisseries, the angels. The angels are the governments whose duty is to communicate the messages of the gods. When I use the term gods, I am thinking more in terms of the Ancient Greek deities, who were anthropomorphic, that is to say, bearing all the qualities, characteristics and many of the weaknesses of the mortals over whom they so indifferently reign. The gods are complex creatures. They eat, drink and feast and are always hungry for more. They have nothing but contempt for the masses of the faithful who are compelled to make regular sacrifices to satiate their voracious appetites, and it is precisely this need for sacrifice which constitutes the essential weakness of these capricious deities ; they rely on the subservience and ignorant belief of the faithful to perpetuate their superiority. In other words, the greatness of the gods depends on the voluntary smallness of man.

There is one central difference between the Greek gods and the Christian deity. The Greek gods were also subject to the arbitrary and inscrutable forces of Fate; they lacked the omnipotence and omniscience of what the Christians call God, who is a bit of a bore in comparison. And so, just like their Grecian predecessors the gods of the modern world are incapable of controlling their own fate. Ergo when their excesses are punished by fate, it is the faithful who have to pay. The United States government has proposed a rescue package of 700 billion to save the American economy from ruin. This means further taxes on the working class, the faithful of capitalist theology. The faithful, too terrified to object, are well advised on this matter, by their local clergy, the economists. Economists are often hard to understand, but as many of them are bald and have glasses, they seem to know what they are talking about. So, we the ignorant faithful listen and take their advice. They often says things like ‘the market moves in mysterious ways’ or ‘It’s important to raise consumer confidence’, which is a bit like saying ‘ god is good even if nobody understands him, so be a good boy and say your prayers’. Such economists are what I call Market Catholics. For the Market Catholic there is one way and one way only. On the other hand there are also Market Protestants. The Market Protestants are usually endowed with prophetic powers ( no pun intended). They often predict when the crisis is going to come; they are harbingers of the apocalypse who exhort us to work harder and join in prayer. At the very end of the scale are the atheists. They live on the left hand side of the capitalist world. Many of them seek the overthrow of the gods and the construction of a new world order based on the principal of equality. Since the fall of the rebel angels 18 years ago,( ie, the Soviet Union ) they have been kept in the underworld. In Ancient Greek society Socrates was the first intellectual of note to question the existence of the gods. In Christian mythology Lucifer, whose name means ‘ bearer of light’, was the first angel to challenge the tyranny of God. Considering the darkness in which we currently find ourselves, perhaps these metaphors merit reflection.

No comments: