Friday, February 06, 2009

Restoration, not revolt

"What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing," says Lord Darlington in Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan. That perfectly describes the man who doesn't understand inflation.

Inflation is The Mogambo Guru's bete noire, and he gives us another comedy riff on that today. His principal cure for it is gold, the stock in trade of another ranter, Jim Willie, who sees the price of the yellow metal breaking out in various currencies (it's soared in sterling, for example).

Both men habitually connect gold, the US Constitution and the decayed professional morals of the politico-judicial elite, and try to stimulate the people to restore the old, good order. In short, they are prophets, and there's plenty more out there at this time.

For it is a sign of societal stress that ranters, dreamers and revolutionaries begin to drag out their soap boxes and declaim to passers-by. We had it in the Old Testament, the English Civil War, the American Revolutionary War and most other times that the world was turned upside down.

If buttercups buzzed after the bee
If boats were on land, churches on sea
If ponies rode men and grass ate the cows
And cats should be chased to holes by the mouse
If the mammas sold their babies to the gypsies for half a crown
Summer were spring and the t’other way round
Then all the world would be upside down

There is a difference between civil war, and the revolt of colonies from their distant parent. Having said that, the crisis is now cracking the cement between the States and the Federal Government, as we see in New Hampshire and elsewhere. America, remember history and avoid secessionary talk.

The results of revolution are rarely pretty. Norman Cohn's famous book , about the horrifying aftermath of prophet episodes in the Middle Ages, shows that once the mix is brought to the boil, it becomes very volatile. The outcome is often not what the prophet expected; and always, the people suffer. Rather than overthrow our rulers, it would be far better (if possible) to make them see the danger to us all of continuing their course, and have them turn back.

But can they see it? Do they know the difference between price and value? Will they permit the theft of real wealth by inflation? Or is it, worse still, their intention?

The best we can hope for, is that our leaders are not cynics, and so do not need correction from dangerous idealists.

1 comment:

TBRRob said...


These things always end in violence.