Friday 29 March 2013

Easter Economics

I don't believe in Easter, that is to say I don't believe that the crucifixion of one man had any cosmic significance nor do I believe in 'the' resurrection afterwards. I don't actually believe that the Passion narrative is reliable. There is a point where reinterpretations and re-explanations simply give way to non-observance in any sense.

Nevertheless, there is only so much one can take of 'let's celebrate spring' all of which is a little delayed this year. Spring is not a hope but an angle of the globe against the sun, so yes it's OK to know where you are but let's not overdo it. We overdo it partly thanks to visiting preachers who replicate others.

The other 'tactic' is a kind of religious parallelism, where last Sunday the service taker, a minister, contrasted September 2001 in New York with her visit ten years on, and wove that into the spring theme. So you have devastating loss, but a rebirth that still takes into account that loss. More was made of it by reference to blue skies. But, I wonder, is it a theology of anything, or is it just observation that, after some nasty event, people just have to recover and move on. They don't forget but might forgive, and even those who don't forgive just have to move on for their own good.

For me, the Christian myth derives from that actuality, rather than treating the myth as primary (via which there is unique salvation). The reality is that the loss that happens in some events is real and cannot be glossed over, but there is a point where - the tragedy recognised - you do carry on.

In one sense the present economic troubles are continuing because there has not been a tragedy, a death, or a collapse. We still have liquid money bubbling about to try and avoid economic death. The government bailed out the banks and now banks are being used to bail out governments. Governments are using quantitative easing to hold a baseline insead of allowing money to flush out, basically to disappear. The danger is that once the economy does move we will hyperinflate. Nothing died, and without dying it can't resurrect. Also capitalism has died; if we do hyperinflate then if democracy has anything to do with it powers will be needed to direct economic activity after it continues to fail.

Recently the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced assistance to buy property, as if he wants a quick fix as of before: instead of allowing prices of property to fall, this will allow them to rise, and simply is an attempt to move money from the banks (where it is stuck) into purchases of property, that is the appearance of economic activity. But it isn't. It simply says I want inflation to be back in a property bubble, moved from a bank dormant bubble.

Evolution is itself based on death: the individual units die as the genes get stronger hosts; and really the economy had to die before it was allowed to recover. But great interests seem to have prevailed. We are left in a position where a resurrected economy won't be resurrected. It'll just be as it was, uncrucified. Yet, uncrucified, it is like a dying plant, but not dead, and cannot flourish, and somehow has to die first before it lives again. In other words, Cyprus and Greece are better off defaulting and starting again than this constant management to bob along the bottom with successive bailouts that go nowhere. No one is flushing the system clean.


Matt said...

Thank you for sharing this. As someone who struggles to 'get' traditional Easter readings, this reflection has much more resonance.

Jonathan Clatworthy said...

Well said.
Apols for the plug but I was along the same lines on
Although I didn't mention Greece & Cyprus, on which yes quite. Who on earth can really believe that depriving thousands of people of essential medicines can be justified by financiers' demands to be paid 20 times the average?