Friedmanite capitalism has aimed low and missed. We need a new Higher Aim.

At Easter, it’s worth pondering where real opposition would be without Jesus of Nazareth

For once, I remembered to put the clocks forward. But somehow, it still doesn’t feel like clocks-forward weather. We’ve had some tremendously high winds over the last two days. It is my habit when urinating here to go outside in the garden unless the weather is especially inclement. Not only does one save around four gallons per day of water by doing this – in time, water will become our most valued resource – I also get a tremendous sense of independence from walking onto grass and weeing where the mood takes me.

That said, during high winds it is always important to retain a focus on the direction of wind travel. I am becoming increasingly absent-minded these days, especially when halfway through a piece and pondering how to end it. Such musings are unwise while peeing in high winds. I will leave the rest your your aggregate imaginations.

I honestly cannot remember a Spring that took so long to break free from the cold coffin of winter. Stoically, buds are ripening and blossom is appearing, but as we say in these parts, “on utilise toujours la cheminée” – we still need the fire on. This last week I have been dodging showers to cut the grass. The place now looks Bristol-fashion, but there is something vaguely desperate about mowing grass just so the rain can piss down and lengthen it again. The Forth Bridge analogy applies.

This is the Meteo forecast for our region over the next six days: chance of rain, mostly cloudy, chance of rain, chance of rain, mostly cloudy, overcast. The temperature increase over that period is a massive 2 degrees…from 13 to 15. And we are moving into April for crying out loud.

So in order to take myself away from this stark reality, I’ve decided – on this the day when we observe the crucifixion of a rebel two millenniums ago – to consider the nature of his effect on the human race. Much as he seems to have meant well, have many from the Homo sapiens pack decided to practice what the Nazarene preached?

One thinks, for example, of Kim Jong Un, the North Korean fruit cake who has put his nuclear missiles on standby after the US flew two stealth bombers over the Korean peninsula….presumably to see if he was telling the truth about his nuclear missiles. There is a certain self-fulfilling madness to this odd tension, but on the whole it’s turning into the nuclear alert that nobody seems able to take seriously. Thus far, the North Koreans have launched three test missiles: one blew up soon after launch, the other went off course and nearly hit various innocent bystanders before plunging into the Pacific, and the third was A Success…although nobody has defined the measurement scale for that success, as such.

nkhatscropIt’s not that I’m making light of this, it’s just that when North Korean spokesmen vow to “break the waists of the crazy enemies, totally cut their windpipes and thus clearly show them what a real war is like”, one begins to wonder what other astonishing weaponry they have hidden away under their unfeasibly large military hats.

I have always had a problem with people whose syntax is, as we say in the North, a slate short on the roof. This applies to management consultants, stock market and banker types, and even more to the Eunatics: for this last bizarre sect overlays its strained language with the familiar fantasy of the dictator. This excerpt from the EC’s website – putting forth its bold Seven Year Plan under the brand name ‘Europe 2020’ – is in the same league as some of Hitler’s battle orders during April 1945:

‘Europe 2020 is the EU’s growth strategy for the coming decade. In a changing world, we want the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy. These three mutually reinforcing priorities should help the EU and the Member States deliver high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion.’

‘Europe 2020′ makes me think of the opthalmic ’20-20 Vision’ terminology. Perhaps that was intentional, but as the man said, most humour is generated by the gap between aspiration and achievement. ‘We want the EU to become’ is a delightful bit of fluffy bollocks, but given that the objective of wishful thinking is ’employment, productivity and social cohesion’, one is forced to observe that this has been blown off course along the way. Or even sunk, depending on your taste in analogies.

Being ‘helped’ by the EC hasn’t done a lot for ClubMed, who continue to have higher unemployment than in anyone’s lifetime, productivity so low that Mario Dracula came out of the Batcave to tell the FinMins how appalling it is, and as for social cohesion well – I’ve seen more cohesive thinking in a puppy socialisation session down the vets.

From trying to save a euro that has been clinically dead for eighteen months, the Brussels-am-Berlin tanks are now turning their attention (along with most of the Western world) to boldly going where no angel ever trod: cutting out the Revenue middle men and simply thrusting an enormous shovel into everyone’s bank accounts…up to but not including theirs.

I suspect that in First Century Nazareth, Kim Jong Un would’ve been seen as possessed – and thus an obvious candidate for stoning. In turn, had the Romans arrived in the region to find an EC mentality in control, the crucifixions would’ve stretched from Jerusalem to Morocco. In that context, you can’t help feeling that some Pharisees and Roman governors had a point.

Being the man he is reputed to have been, Jesus would I am sure have called for merciful treatment of such people, although he did have form when it came to moneylenders in temples. Nevertheless, he would – I’m only hypothesising here, I wasn’t around at the time or anything – have stuck to his alleged belief in tolerance, non-judgementalism, turning cheeks, washing feet, helping the poor, and bamboozling his accusers with searing logic.

They crucified him anyway (the whole world hates a wiseass) but the idea is that he knew they would, because they were stupid, mad and vein. His contention was that he thought it worth dying to show future generations how utterly daft their leaders are, and how destructive aping their hubris can be. I’m simplifying and politicising 2000 years of theology to make a point here, which is this: the Nazarene probably didn’t think leaders perverting good ideas were ever likely to go away…but I suspect he wanted more good people among the citizenry to set a better example, and help to get rid of them without violence. For anyone today – religious, spiritual, agnostic or atheist – our performance 2013 years later doesn’t at first sight give cause for uncontained optimism that Jesus Christ has had any effect at all.

But this in turn is a massive simplification of history prior to the current era of denialist greed alongside social misery. The Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition were, shall we say, cases of serious copybook-blotting, but pretty much once Charles I of England and Louis XVI of France had been separated from their silly heads, Christian values in Europe – and later middle America – used the social principles of State-separated Christianity to produce communities, welfare and humane treatment on a scale never seen before. Indeed, it has long been my theory that the Roman Empire crumbled in the end because early Christians in Rome offered a way of life so diametrically opposed to the cruel Imperial ethic, it was by definition bound to be seditious….and melt the iron hammer  with which the Romans knocked their conquered peoples into shape.

From around 1830 in Western Europe, and America after the Civil War and before McCarthyism, Christian values produced a level of caring social interaction and theory miles beyond that of any other continent. That this didn’t happen in Africa, India, and South America is, for me, a condemnation of the Church as an agent in league with a repressive State – be that Argentina or the British Empire. Conquistador priests and and early missionaries have a lot to answer for. But not only did the British Empire turn out to be far more constructive and benign than any predecessor, the Brits gave it away at the end of the Second World War because (the Labour Government at least) believed in self-determination.

That Labour administration was largely based on Christian-inspired Fabian and Community Trade Union Socialism at the time. I’m not a member of any of those clubs, but the 1945-51 administration still stands out for me as easily the most productive of an otherwise ethically dim British century. Without the inspiration of Jesus of Nazareth, I doubt if it would ever have happened.

The goggle-eyed moral goldfish currently in charge in Washington, Westminster, Wall Street, Brussels, Berlin, Tel-Aviv, Tehran, Melbourne, Buenos Aires and Pyongyang may seem to be the future, but they are in reality just another blip. Their values are negligible, their plans half-baked, and their doom assured. From trickle-down wealth to financial repression, from globalist mercantilism to deregulated employment, and from low top tax rates to derivative financial markets, the result has been the same over and over again: fiscal bankruptcy and increased poverty.

Without the examples of peaceful Islamics, practical Buddhists, quiet Hindus, caring Jews or sincere Christians, those results would not be viewed as visibly wrong by the largely silent majority. The idea of a higher priority beyond the material is the grounding that has made the thoughtful minority begin to think, “Hang on a minute – that’s just not on”.

I have no idea what will replace the easy cynicism of our generation (in most cases, simply an idle kop-out playing into the Establishment’s hands) with something that recognises the Higher Aim. But we have to have something: the socio-economic belief system out there right now is little better than Nazism: potty theories being rigidly adhered to as an excuse for killing the innocent. The idolatry offered up to Milt Friedman by the Right is a classic example of craven image worship that is unworthy of being called philosophy. Even if there is no God, anything would be better than that.

Whether your approach is observance or simply scoffing Easter Eggs, have a good one.

Yesterday at The Slog: Why the West must default or die