Sunday, January 19, 2014

Generation Walt

We need to talk about the parents. The CRC revelations tell us something about the current generation of leaders in Irish society. And it isn't complimentary. A great many organisations in this country appear to be run by people with the moral compass of a Walter White. In the end it isn't their incompetence that is most shocking, it is there utter venality.

Ireland isn't alone in this regard, of course. Here's John Ralston Saul talking about the global trends he's observing:
There’s an inchoate anger driving people around the world and these are the first signs of people starting to believe there’s another way. ...the false morality attached to utilitarianism, which is what’s driven us for 40 years, in fact led to deep immorality—it led to a rise in corruption. This is a very dishonest period in which the dishonesty has been sanitized and not surprisingly you see an enormous rise in corruption in the financial markets and in politics. But corruption is only an expression of the more fundamental problem, which is that there has to be an idea for how society works...
Check out his interview over at EconTalk.

We are coming to the end of an extraordinary economic era. What Graham Barnes calls The Financialised Economy (FE) has completely usurped the Real Economy (RE), and making money out of money is what drives the casino we all now live in. But even Walter White eventually found he had gained a great deal of money at the cost of, well, everything else. There are diminishing returns to greed it appears, and to a great many other things, as we are witnessing today.

But Walter did keep going for a long time. So what comes next? Reflecting on the moral lessons of Breaking Bad, James Bowman points to the only other alternative to Western Civilisation:
Students of history or anthropology are more likely to see the alternative to Western civilization and the rule of law not as the twilight struggle of individual savagery but as the tribal, family-oriented society and the honor culture that actually did precede the Enlightenment’s commitment to universal values and that is still predominant in most parts of the world where those liberal and progressive standards have a more precarious hold.
Maybe that's what we're really witnessing in Ireland. A tribalism of insiders vs outsiders, the former still in control and shamelessly looking after their own, the latter increasingly angry as they realise the extent to which they have been duped and defrauded. Even inchoate anger eventually gives way to something else...

1 comment:

  1. The anger is very real, but the difficulty is in finding a means to transform the current system, which has been deliberately designed to an 'insider/outsider' template. The present coalition was given its chance in the last election, but most of them are beneficiaries of the current system and are unlikely to fix something that has worked so well for them. But the truth is this exclusionary impetus works all the way from the top to the bottom. When is the last time anyone saw a vacancy for a postal worker or a county council operative advertised in the newspapers? And yet they seem to employ new people every year. The cynicism that now pervades the country is entirely rational and well-founded.


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