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Sunday, 30 October 2011

Failures

One: Saint Paul's


There is little doubt that there was an initial failure of policing, which allowed a demonstration directed at the Stock Exchange to fetch up at Saint Paul's Cathedral. As with the summer riots, the failure was in the initial assessment of the situation: and here the police are placed in real difficulty. Precipitate action taken before there was a full assessment of the situation would bring massive criticism onto the police, not just from legal racketeers smelling money but from genuine libertarians. The entirely well-intended intervention of the Canon Chancellor then assured that the moment became frozen into ugly stalemate. It gave the 'protesters' an ample opportunity to demonstrate that they had no positive ideas, and permitted others who have various ideas and intentions  - including the desire merely to seize an anarchistic opportunity - to arrange their appearance in the camp en route to attracting the attention of the media.

Today the Bishop of London, who is possessed of one of the best minds in the Church, joined the Dean in asking them to leave, and urging them to make their case in discussion both in a formal 'debate' and through the Saint Paul's Institute. We are told that this Institute has been exploring the sort of issue that some 'protestors' purport to complain about, for many years. One must assume that that assertion is true: and note that the Institute has been remarkable successful in keeping its proceedings secret. Insiders will almost certainly assert that they have offered their findings and opinions to the public; without having let the public know much about it. It was then rumoured that a critical report on banking was due for publication when the  camp-in began: but the Chapter had decided to suppress it, at least temporarily. Oh dear: error compounding ineptitude!

Two


Vital evidence about the character of the alleged killer was kept from the Jury in the Joanna Yeats murder trial, which ended last week with a conviction. This is a typical example of the failure of the judiciary to prevent the defence from withholding relevant evidence. My own experience as a juror in relatively minor cases disclosed that there is extensive use of out-of-court agreements between the barristers to keep evidence hidden. A jury of which I was a member repeatedly returned to the point that all the members shared the view that the defendant was most probably guilty, but that evidence had apparently been withheld; with the effect that it was unsafe to convict. Within the present state of the Law, we had to return a 'Not Guilty' verdict. I believe that this is an instance of the triumph of the Law of Lawyers' Earnings over the concepts of Truth and Justice.

The Courts fail to deliver Justice on a day-to-day basis.

Three


The week's news contains massive evidence of a fundamental failure of Economics, of Politics and of Society. This failure puts noise into the empty vessels of the Saint Paul's 'protesters' and enables reasonable people to 'see their point'. The ludicrous overpayment of business directors and senior executives - not just in banking -is managed by the heads of other companies sitting on each others' Remuneration Committees. Corporate governance has failed.

Then came the news that modest wages have either been frozen for the past year, or reduced by only 1% to 3%, while prices have risen by a notional average of 5%: which masks the experience of all housekeepers that the prices of many essential household items and services have increased by very much more than 5%.

Throughout society there is awareness of a failure of social and economic justice. Behind this lies a simple paradox. Since Ronald Reagan gained the US Presidency and Mrs Thatcher gained office as Prime Minister, aggressive capitalism has been exalted. While that mood persisted, communism collapsed in Europe. In  China communism was transmogrified most successfully into a mix of state capitalism with licensed private capitalism. In what used to be the Cold-War West, socialism has lost both adherents and intellectual attraction. The lesson that has been ignored is simple: capitalism fails at distribution, while socialism fails in organising production.

Both capitalism and socialism are intellectually-specified forms of social and economic organisation, which politics has too often [and for too long] treated as mutually exclusive bases for social and economic organisation. They are not.

Proponents of the Post-World-War-Two idea of a 'mixed economy' were halfway towards the truth. Society is fairest, and politics can be most effective and freest, if capitalist production is married with socially-aware, fair distribution. The human world is in a very dangerous place. Population growth, drought, climate change and other global issues must be addressed by increased innovation and investment which only capitalism can provide. Consensual social cohesion cannot be built by force, but only by co-operation and consent. Bringing capitalism and socialism into a marriage seems difficult because mindsets have been set against the idea. China is well on the way to indicating one model for such a productive partnership. Europe and North America, South America and India can produce their own models - quickly, if they get down to it. If they don't, doomsters will have their day: and the established failure of Politics will triumph over humanity and decency.

.....and a Tale for the Times.


Now that the wonder Westfield is open, Stratford town centre is almost ready to receive the Olympic crowds.The traditional market nearby has been preserved; but the stallholders have been told that the market will be closed for the duration of the Games. Given the opportunity to meet Lord Coe in a question-and-answer session, he responded to the traders' concern that they would loose a month's income by saying: 'Grin and bear it!' The arrogant dismissal of serious concerns by ordinary hard-working people was a typical reaction from the sort of MP that Coe was, a class that the population despises increasingly. That kind of failure of humanity is a commonplace that is working powerfully to destroy the dregs of cohesion that still remain in British society.

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