Debt crisis: Are there any leaders out there?
8 August 2011
Faced with the euro crisis, world leaders look at best paralysed and at worst irresponsible. But a situation this serious needs heads of government who can take the bull by the horns.
The cry goes up: this crisis is a moment for leadership. But if leadership is needed, then to where, and with whose consent? In the face of financial apocalypse those questions take us to more difficult places. They rub against the progressive expectation of democracy: that tomorrow can be better than today. Perhaps that isn't always true.
Despite their differences, capitalists, socialists, liberals and conservatives are united by a common idea. It is the assumption of linear progress for human civilisation: the belief, seldom stated because rarely challenged, that things can only get better or – if they seem not to be – can get better if we choose the right policies. To this way of thinking, a turn for the worse is seen as a setback: a reason to condemn one set of politicians for choosing the wrong policies, and elect another instead who offer different ones. Normal service will be resumed shortly. We'll sort the problem out, maybe try a new tack – and continue on an upward path.
For several centuries the west has been right – most of the time – to assume this rule applies. It may still be right to assume it now. Science and technology are leaping ahead. The world's rich can count on living longer than ever. Life, for most people, is pleasant.
But behind the sloth of a European elite on holiday as so much goes wrong lies a miserable possibility. Perhaps no G7 summit, no telephone call, no brilliant speech by Barack Obama, no amount of breezy calm from Cameron can break paralysis. The terror of the financial crisis is not that it requires a series of complex policy responses which, if followed, will set the world economy back on a path to growth. It is that no amount of fiddling may do anything other than delay the judgment: and the sentence is decline.
Read the rest of the article at The Guardian ...