12 January 2011

Raedwald, with regret

"Banks are a bigger threat than socialists", blogs the robust boat-dweller. Oh dear - false dichotomy, old son. Not to mention a smattering of formal, propositional, quantificational and syllogistic logical fallacies in the body of the blog, linking hands to form dense nests of ideologically-driven irrationality. 
. . .the duty of society's institutions should be to serve the interests of that society, based on the unit of the family, on horizontal ties that bind family, neighbourhood and community, on Burke's 'little platoons', those local institutions that give us belonging.
Bullshit. Banks are not "society's institutions" - they are commercial entities whose obligations are to make money for their share-holders within the law. It was society's institutions, to wit elected governments and their regulatory bodies, which contumaciously failed to define and enforce laws to oblige the banks to serve the greater interest of the societies within which they operate.

And it is those same institutions, desperate for revenue, that have reversed the equation and put the resources of society unconditionally at the disposal of the banks. Here is Raedwald's premise:
Socialism is no longer the greatest threat to this nation; the banks are. They support central Statism, because this is the system that suits their interests best. They support the EU, because trans-national governance is in their interests. They favour central economic planning, a high State stake in the economy, and the levers of economic control through tax and investment being manipulated at national level. They are, in other words, profoundly anti-Localist and a profound obstacle to subsidiarity.
All of it questionable in whole or in part - but it's his premise so let's go with it. So what does he argue constitutes an alternative? Why - Corporativism, the Catholic alternative to socialism AND economic liberalism developed under the aegis of Pope Leo XIII. This is the ideology of all Christian Democrat parties and the organizing principle of the EU, which ticks every single one of the above-enumerated boxes.

Raedwald is particularly enamoured of the late Victorian Roman Catholic author G.K. Chesterton:
Chesterton's beliefs were based on profoundly Christian, and specifically Catholic doctrine. His was the age in which not only did Rerum Novarum [1891] (frequently featured on this blog) condemn Socialism as anti-Christian, but likewise condemned unconstrained corporate capitalism, in Quadragesimo Anno [1931]; "Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do" and "every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them".
Now, since they lack the magic words "I declare, decree and define", those encyclicals are not covered by the doctrine of papal infallibility (when speaking ex cathedra) proclaimed in 1870 under Leo XIII's immediate predecessor, Pius IX. Just as well, because Corporativism has proved to be as much a charter for bureaucratic oligarchy, political corruption and social stagnation as Marxism.

Raedwald's target appears to be the international financial system, of which banks play a large but by no means definitive role. The big issue now is how to bring China's enormous surpluses into play, without which the global economy is not going to recover. Like it or not, only the world's banks are capable of handling the massive amounts of money involved.   

In politics, the core question is NEVER what should we do. It is ALWAYS what can we do, given what we have to work with. Currently, what policy-makers have to work with are the banks. Full stop. No alternative.

So people should stop yapping about how banks do not, of their own free will, act for the greater good (although there is a strong case that they do, regardless), and try to work out how to make them to do so without driving them to other, more accommodating jurisdictions.  

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps what Raedwald fails to see is that banks have indeed provided a Via Alta which combines both redistribution of goods and high finance in order to create a new viable socialism for the rich!