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Thursday, 3 November 2011

Credibility and Credulity

In recent days an ages-old phenomenon of human relationships has become prominent. It emerges in questions such as:
# Can the Archbishop of Canterbury believe that he is being taken seriously, when it has taken the massive negative publicity about the Church that has followed the establishment of the squatter camp at Saint Paul's for him to speak with any clarity on the crisis that began four years ago?

# Can anyone believe that anarchist toughs and rent-a-crowd hangers-on will quietly leave Saint Paul's - on any date - as agreed by the 'Assembly' of middle and upper-class brats who have successfully attracted global media attention to their naive assertions? Will even the whole of the 'Assembly' pack their tents and go?

#  Can anybody really believe that Merkel and Sarkozi are prepared for their countries to bankroll Greece and Italy indefinitely and without limit which is the obvious corollary to their demand that the Greeks should vote for permanent subjection to the rules and exactions of both the EU and the Eurozone? And can the Greek Prime Minister survive in office until the date of the Referendum? And will the Greek government and parliament agree to allow Germany and France to specify the question to be put to their people?

# Can anyone take seriously the ideas of the medical nannies who are demanding that extra taxes should be imposed on alcohol, salt and fat in order to change popular habits? Do the doctors not understand anything about the realities of consumer behaviour in modern society [as set out in my Personal Political Economy]?

Politicians and leading eurorats live in a world of high security, chauffeured cars and filtered news; as does an Archbishop and the President of a medical Royal College. But the organisations that they lead all have agents on the ground, deep in the miserable lives of the 'deprived': and almost all of these people have contributed to endless focus groups, studies, discussions, outreach exercises, social experiments and educational initiatives whose cumulative effect is considerably less than the local impact of the most impressive exercises in self-help. In seeking to answer each of the above questions one finds that grass-roots wisdom rarely reaches the general national consciousness, and hardly ever forms a basis for public policy. Public policy, in the churches and the royal colleges as much as in the state, follow the precepts of authoritarian academic hierarchies, who present the 'received wisdom' that is rarely concordant with the experience of the mass of citizens, not just of the 'deprived'. The academics think they are well-meaning, though they accept their subjection to the hierarchies of their 'disciplines'. Removing these disparities, between the professions and the people, and between the economic and social  professors' dogma and observable reality, are crucial to resolving the present disconnection between power and people. These are even more important issues even than addressing transitory phenomena like the  future of the Euro or the tax on salt.

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