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I.O.U.

blog_tsunami.jpg

Sumatra Island as the tsunami hit on December 26th 2004. The image, said to have been found in a digital camera several years after the disaster, was forwarded to us today by Idris Francis. The photographer is unknown. UPDATE: A reader doubts the image show a tsunami, but the metaphor of small householders under threat survives.

There were no alerts for 2008's tsunami-like financial disaster either. You may recall that The Queen wondered why banks and governments didn't see it coming. Writer John Lanchester is not the first to explain why, but he may be the first to compare "the shift in finance over recent decades to the rise of modernism in the arts". From the Wall Street Journal review of his new book I.O.U. - -

The bursting of every speculative mania has invariably been followed by the search for scapegoats. After the Mississippi Scheme collapsed in 1720, share certificates in the Compagnie des Indes were publicly incinerated in Paris. When the contemporaneous South Sea bubble imploded, leading members of the government were sent to the Tower of London, and profiteers were forced by an extraordinary retroactive Act of Parliament to disgorge their ill-gotten gains.

Over the past couple of years, there has been a frantic search to identify those responsible the recent financial collapse. British novelist John Lanchester joined the hunt with a number of essays for the London Review of Books that provide the groundwork for "I.O.U.: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay." His list of culprits is reminiscent of the denouement of Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express." No single individual or institution murdered the credit system. Everyone turns out to be guilty.

People's retirements, their homes and their communities have been wiped out. People who conducted themselves responsibly and honourably have suffered.

Unlike those devastated by the tsunami, many of the players described in I.O.U. might truly say, 'The fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves'.

Comments (1)

mike:

I love your passionate writing in defence of Western values and British virtues.....but I believe the photo above is a sand or dust storm. Not a Tsunami.

Carry on,
Mike (From rural Wisconsin, sadly watching the fall of "new Rome".)

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