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A Crisis Carol


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At the close of World War I, the victorious celebrated their win by crippling the losers. It was a stupid age. Rabid Nationalism, teetering Empires, and the wailing of a new born industrial Goliath in the New World all combined to overpower a creaking and defunct world economic system that had long outlived its time. It was catastrophic international economic collapse that led directly to the evils of the two decades that followed: The “Roaring” twenties of unsustainable growth, and the inevitability of the hangover that was the Great Depression. Looking back, it is a wonder nobody could see it coming, but the second great World War – truly global for the first time – was nothing more than the reprise of a spectacle with a truly crappy intermission.

The dust hadn’t settled when the sons of World War I – the fathers of the Baby Boom – met again to plan the sequel, determined this time to have an endless run and a cast of thousands. The International Economic Infrastructure forged at Bretton Woods in 1944 remains beneath the surface of everything we do on planet earth to this day. And, like the one that led to the first Great War, is now woefully – and dangerously – inadequate for the age in which we live.

However, as obvious as that fact now is, like the mid war brain trust that flushed everybody into the toilet in 1939, the current thinkers of our age seem hell bent on repeating history, racing to pull the plunger as the murky waters spin below. They can do no other. A single generation – the great cohort called the Baby Boom, the bulge in the snake, the privileged ones – is grasping and clawing to maintain a world order that has made them rich, fat, and stupid. Their attempt to prop up a world built only for them, at the expense of all of us left behind, is criminal.

We, those who follow in their wake and must clean up their mess, should not sit idle while our planet is mortgaged for their comfy and secure retirement. In the early days of 2009, it seems that all is coming apart. It seems that way because it is. Eventually there will come a point where all the lines intersect, all the forces of nature meet, and this crisis will force change of the most fundamental kind. We, then, have a choice to make. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride, or get off the damn roller coaster and do something about it.

Charles Dickens said in his own time, in the person of that eras evil money lender Ebenezer Scrooge; “Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?…. Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead…But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change”. He was fighting the industrial revolution and the ills of mercantilism, but Dickens plea remains as fresh today as it was then – change isn’t just possible, it’s necessary. Our courses have foreshadowed certain end, which, if preserved, they must lead. But if we can depart those courses, the end will surely change.

Good enough for me. I’m in.




1. Lilo Lottermoser - February 11, 2009

Dear Roman, though not countryman (a woman, anyway),
it was nice to meet you via ATol and for you to leave your address. A year or so ago I should probably not have understood your texts, this one and the other one. I did not think it possible that so very many US-Americans could be as, according to you and others (including dear Mr. Liu) they clearly are. It took me a year of watching CNN via my new satellite dish and reading, of course, to practically force me to realise it. Your inimitable style makes it all more bearable. And it’s nice you like Dickens. I was lucky enough to be able to plot my own course; I think we’ll meet somewhere there.
Lilo Lottermoser, Hamburg,Germany

aetiusromulous - February 13, 2009

So great to hear from Germany. It is so hard to remember that we are all just people living in little shoe boxes. The technology is there for us to travel around the world from our own homes, we just gotta remember to use it!
Thanks for the comment and yes-we will al meet in the end.

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