I read somewhere that there is an old Chinese proverb along the lines, “May you live in interesting times”. Quite what the point of the saying is, I’ve no idea. That we live in interesting times, however, I don’t doubt. What is really interesting is that we may see the prevailing and generally accepted political wisdom really being tested with the results of the election in Greece. As I write, a left of centre party has formed a coalition with, what is described as, a populist right wing party. That should certainly, as my Aunt Doreen used to say, “Set the cat amongst the pigeons”. It may just be that we might actually get to that point at which, to quote Pablo Iglesias of Podemus, a new Spanish left wing party, “You realise that the key to success is to achieve a connection between the reality that you have diagnosed and what the majority feels”. Now I know that I’m giving away my age now (as if I’ve ever kept it quiet) but that’s exactly what the Labour Party did in 1948 when it created the Welfare State and its flagship NHS. So, not only is it possible but, as in so many other matters, it happened first in these small islands just off the European mainland.
Whether it was before the Russians, the French or the Americans, we had the first revolution. What else would you call it when we beheaded the king and became a republic? For some reason, we prefer to call it the Civil War; some years after which we handed it back. The old dictum, “Always remember to hold onto nurse, for fear of finding something worse” obviously prevailed. Furthermore, even that wasn’t our first revolution as you’ll discover if you just read your history.
So what many having been preaching for most of their lives, the idea that “business isn’t everything” may just be starting to sink in. Vital, it may be, but it needs a purpose other than just profit for profits sake which sometimes seems to be the ethos behind many of the multinationals today. Now I don’t normally call on the Queen to bolster my arguments, however I do in this case. In 2102, in a reference to the near economic collapse of six years ago, she is reported to have asked Central Bank officials why no one had seen it coming. So why should their solutions today have any greater relevance than their lack of foresight then?
We do, indeed, live in interesting times. The important part, however, is coming through them without destroying the very fabric of our society in the process. After all “the operation was a success although the patient is dead”, doesn’t seem a useful measure to me. Many of us believe that more and more austerity is not the answer and that a change of direction for this country might not go amiss. Interesting times indeed.