Memorial Day

Memorial Day is for remembrance and for speeches.  I’ll let you in on a secret. I already know what will be said in those speeches. They will follow — as every memorial day speech has followed — the basic outline established by Pericles in his famous Funeral Oration delivered in the 5th century while Athens was at war. The speech has everything — reflection on long dead heroes, credit for what Athens has become, praise of the ongoing mission of Athens in the Peloponnese, heartfelt gratitude to the families of the war dead, and, most importantly, a call to make sure that they did not die in vain. That is to say, a call for these families to keep up their supply of children to fill the ranks of the soon-to-be heroes. And, yes, there is also much in the speech not only praising the peaceful mission of Athens in the world, but also condemning those who criticize that mission: war resisters, pacifists, critics of Athens and of Pericles. Its all right there, in Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War. And there has not been a President who has not read, re-read, and read again Pericles’ address before delivering their own.

I read Pericles’ Funeral Oration every Memorial Day. And then I go on to read about the plague, growing resistence to Pericles’ imperial policies, and Pericles’ response to this policies, which I quote here:

60    ‘I expected this outbreak of anger on your part against me, since I understand the reasons for it; and I have called an assembly with this object in view, to remind you of your previous resolutions and to put forward my own case against you, if we find that there is anything unreasonable in your anger against me and in your giving way to your misfortunes. My own opinion is that when the whole state is on the right course it is a better thing for each separate individual than when private interests are satisfied but the state as a whole is going downhill. However well off a man may be in his private life, he will still be involved in the general ruin if his country is destroyed; whereas, so long as the state itself is secure, individuals have a much greater chance of recovering from their private misfortunes. Therefore, since a state can support individuals in their suffering, but no one person by himself can bear the load that rests upon the state, is it not right for us all to rally to her defence? Is it not wrong to act as you are doing now? For you have been so dismayed by disaster in your homes that you are losing your grip on the common safety; you are attacking me for having spoken in favour of war and yourselves for having voted for it. ‘So far as I am concerned, if you are angry with me you are angry with one who has, I think, at least as much ability as anyone else to see what ought to be done and to explain what he sees, one who loves his city and one who is above being influenced by money. A man who has the knowledge but lacks the power clearly to express it is no better off than if he never had any ideas at all. A man who has both these qualities, but lacks patriotism, could scarcely speak for his own people as he should. And even if he is patriotic as well, but not able to resist a bribe, then this one fault will expose everything to the risk of being bought and sold. So that if at the time when you took my advice and went to war you considered that my record with regard to these qualities was even slightly better than that of others, then now surely it is quite unreasonable for me to be accused of having done wrong.

61    ‘If one has a free choice and can live undisturbed, it is sheer folly to go to war. But suppose the choice was forced upon one – submission and immediate slavery or danger with the hope of survival: then I prefer the man who stands up to danger rather than the one who runs away from it. As for me, I am the same as I was, and do not alter; it is you who have changed. What has happened is this: you took my advice when you were still untouched by misfortune, and repented of your action when things went badly with you; it is because your own resolution is weak that my policy appears to you to be mistaken. It is a policy which entails suffering, and each one of you already knows what this suffering is; but its ultimate benefits are still far away and not yet clear for all to see. So, now that a great and sudden disaster has fallen on you, you have weakened in carrying out to the end the resolves which you made. When things happen suddenly, unexpectedly, and against all calculation, it takes the heart out of a man; and this certainly has happened to you, with the plague coming on top of everything else. Yet you must remember that you are citizens of a great city and that you were brought up in a way of life suited to her greatness; you must therefore be willing to face the greatest disasters and be determined never to sacrifice the glory that is yours. We all look with distaste on people who arrogantly pretend to a reputation to which they are not entitled; but equally to be condemned are those who, through lack of moral fibre, fail to live up to the reputation which is theirs already. Each of you, therefore, must try to stifle his own particular sorrow as he joins with the rest in working for the safety of us all. 62    ‘And if you think that our war-time sufferings may grow greater and greater and still not bring us any nearer to victory, you ought to be satisfied with the arguments which I have often used on other occasions to show that there is no good reason for such fears. But there is this point also which I shall mention. In thinking of the greatness of your empire there is one advantage you have which, I think, you have never yet taken into consideration, nor have I mentioned it in my previous speeches. Indeed, since it sounds almost like boasting, I should not be making use of this argument now if it were not for the fact that I see that you are suffering from an unreasonable feeling of discouragement. Now, what you think is that your empire consists simply of your allies: but I have something else to tell you. The whole world before our eyes can be divided into two parts, the land and the sea, each of which is valuable and useful to man. Of the whole of one of these parts you are in control – not only of the area at present in your power, but elsewhere too, if you want to go further. . . .

63    ‘Then it is right and proper for you to support the imperial dignity of Athens. This is something in which you all take pride, and you cannot continue to enjoy the privileges unless you also shoulder the burdens of empire. And do not imagine that what we are fighting for is simply the question of freedom or slavery: there is also involved the loss of our empire and the dangers arising from the hatred which we have incurred in administering it. Nor is it any longer possible for you to give up this empire, though there may be some people who in a mood of sudden panic and in a spirit of political apathy actually think that this would be a fine and noble thing to do. Your empire is now like a tyranny: it may have been wrong to take it; it is certainly dangerous to let it go.

I always read Pericles’ Funeral Address. But I also read the follow-up. Chilling.

The long shadow of Palmyra

War breaks out wherever we human beings live ( We might wish that it avoided spaces that for us have historical value. But we might also wonder what that value is.

As Palmyra fell to the militants known as the Islamic State, my first response not simply as a historian, but as a human being, was remorse. My second response was: well, of course. Human beings live there. Therefore there is war. But, again, as a historian, I know that that response is unsatisfactory. After all, I also live where human beings live; and war has not broken out here; well, not at least since World War II. And, even then, its only signs were bunkers fixed with big guns and huge internment camps filled with Japanese (and a few other Asians for good measure). Obviously the presence of human beings is no guarantee for war.

No, war breaks out where territory is contested. And nowhere has this contest been more fierce than along the seam that runs from the Baltics down through Central and Eastern Europe and then fans out southward into northern Africa and eastward into western China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Without pretending scientific precision, the map looks something like so:


It covers a territory that includes Omar Bartov and Eric D. Weitz’s “Shatterzone” (the German, Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman borderlands), but clearly it extends further south than this map shows, and further east. Also, it is connected less to the German, Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman empires than to the efficiencies that present-day empires or fiefdoms are attempting to extract from the rents they can charge on the commodities that can be extracted along this seam. People live here and there is war. But what is bringing this seam to unravel (“shatter,” in my view, is too abrupt and insufficiently nuanced) is that we do not live there. Rather, we benefit from the commodities and rents that somehow found themselves onto and beneath the soil of these lands.

We are in a bind. As the efficiencies we are able to extract from our own lands and peoples reach their margins, we have had to search elsewhere for those efficiencies that remain. I am not only thinking here of oil extraction and refining, though of course this is central. I am also thinking of the huge, largely untapped labour resources that populate this region. If you have not listened lately, you might eavesdrop on a couple of Defense Department briefings. Everything is now about training local people — in Iraq, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, in Syria, in Ukraine — to fight their own wars. But why? What are they fighting for? For whom are they fighting? Against whom?

Last year, our family lived in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, less than an hour from the Serbian border. And we experienced first-hand the large number (up to 50%) of young men and women recruited by private military subcontractors to service the US military and allies in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is dangerous work for pay that few US citizens would accept. And, yet, so desperate are the circumstances of young adults in the Balkans (where unemployment hovers between 50 and 75% and where the minimum wage is roughly 2€/hr) that they are more than willing, even eager, to risk their lives if it holds the potential of future marriage, a home, and a car. Now that’s efficiency!

Ultimately, what policy-makers are hoping for are counter-insurgency campaigns sufficiently robust to realize efficiencies all across this seam, suppressing local and regional uprisings of communities that no longer wish to endure the indignities of client status to the empires or princes who crave the efficiencies promised by their labour and land.

For the families of Palmyra, this is nothing new. Before being annexed by the expanding Roman Empire, the Palmyrans lived under the domination of the Seleucid dynasty. Their fair city then transferred in an unbroken chain to the Byzantines, the Rashiduns, the Ummayads, the Abbasids, and the Mamluks before catching its breath under the Ottomans. In 1918 Versailles gave Palmyra to the Syrians (i.e., the French). The French vacated in 1946, which is when the oligarchs commenced their internecine war for domination, eventually resulting in the victory of Ba’athists and in 2000 Bashar al-Assad.

So, while we may feel sadness over the loss of this historical vacation destination, the very ruins we long to visit are themselves evidence of the empires — including our own — who have fought and are continuing to fight for domination.

Where we are, there is war. But clearly this applies unequally across the globe. It might be truer to say that where we want to be, there is war. Huge efficiencies are in store for whichever prince or empire is able to subdue the peoples along this seam. Huge costs and losses of efficiency will follow from losing this war.

So, what about the alternative strategy? We could, after all, invest equivalent amounts of capital — indeed, probably substantially less — educating, training, housing, clothing, and caring for the communities along this seam, preparing them for self-government and independence. But, the consequence of this strategy would be very nearly the reverse of the current strategy. Gone the efficiencies from cheap labour and rent. Gone the terror and fear that drives young men and women to work for private military subcontractors. And gone the dream of pliant and well-behaved client states whose lands and people supply the efficiencies upon which our relative peace and leisure are based.

But, think this through. The efficiencies produced by cheap labour and land (rent) are nowhere near as productive as the efficiencies produced by education, security, the rule of law, civil liberties, and freedom. In the long run, we would be much better to redistribute the efficiencies we have pillaged from these regions back to the communities from which we stole them in the first place. Ah, you say, but there’s the rub. Redistribution of these efficiencies would entail a regulation regime fundamentally different from the current one, which rewards the wealth of the leisured class for its skill in appropriating the efficiencies of everyone else. And this means that the very last thing that this leisured class wants is an educated, skilled, safe, secure, and self-governing population along this seam.

What are they fighting for? For whom are they fighting? Against whom? The answers have never seemed clearer.

Diodotus’ Address Revisited

There is a well-known exchange recorded in Thucydides’ Peloponnesian Wars about how to handle those who resisted Athens’ imperial designs. More specifically, the debate centers on whether to put those to death who, though hostile to empire, did not join the revolt. Presumably Thucydides placed the debate over the fate of the Mytilenes here as a prefiguration of the anarchy that would reign throughout the Peloponnese once full-scale war was joined. He wanted us to listen particularly carefully to the words of one Diodotus who argues against putting the Mytilenes to death:

Consider what a mistake you would be making on this very point, if you took Cleon’s advice. As things are now, in all the cities the democracy is friendly to you; either it does not join in with the oligarchies in revolting, or, if it is forced to do so, it remains all the time hostile to the rebels, so that when you go to war with them, you have the people on your side. But if you destroy the democratic party at Mytilene, who never took any hand in the revolt and who, as soon as they got arms, voluntarily gave the city up to you, you will first of all be guilty of killing those who have helped you, and, secondly, you will be doing exactly what the reactionary classes want most. For now, when they start a revolt, they will have the people on their side from the beginning, because you have already made it clear that the same punishment is laid down both for the guilty and the innocent. In fact, however, even if they were guilty, you should pretend that they were not, in order to keep on your side the one element that is still not opposed to you. It is far more useful to us, I think, in preserving our empire, that we should voluntarily put up with injustice than that we should justly put to death the wrong people. As for Cleon’s point – that in this act of vengeance both justice and self-interest are combined – this is not a case where such a combination is at all possible (III:47).

Diodotus takes the position, in other words, that a greater risk is posed by putting to death the wrong people than by sparing the guilty. And, just to make matters perfectly clear, Diodotus then adds: “I call upon you, therefore, to accept my proposal as the better one. Do not be swayed too much by pity or by ordinary decent feelings. I, no more than Cleon, wish you to be influenced by such emotions” (III:48).

Much will be made in the coming days and months of how those who oppose the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are “soft on crime,” or that they are “letting their emotions get the better of them.” Justice must be served. Yet, as Diodotus makes clear above, if nowhere else then at least in matters of justice, emotions should play no role whatsoever. What is at stake — and this was Thucydides’ narrative intention all along — is the soul of a people, of a civilization. When we put another person to death, it says something about us, about who we are.

150407140705-01-tsarnaev-homepage-large-169In the end, capital punishment was meted out on the Mytilenes. What is remarkable, I think, is that this passage and this text was composed in the fifth century BCE and that its message has stood as a warning to all those who have read it from the fifth century to our own. What kind of civilization are we? What kind of people are we? Forget Mr Tsarnaev. He is a miserable excuse for a human being. He showed what he thinks about human life. Very little. But, if Diodotus is to be believed, then whether or not we carry out the death sentence has nothing whatsoever to do with Mr Tsarnaev. It is about us. Who are we? Who are we becoming?

Talking to the Dead: Mozart Edition

Since our choir is preparing to sing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Krönungsmesse, K. 317, Coronation Mass, this Sunday (10 am, Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church, Berkeley), I am thinking about the conversations I have been having with the dead. Of course, as a historian this is far less unusual than it sounds. At the same time, I am struck by how dismissive most people are of the structures, institutions, processes and forces that have borne them forward and that continue to shape who they are and what they know. (And I am not thinking here only of my teenage sons, for whom, “you know, last Friday was so . . . well, you know, last week.” I am thinking of mature, highly educated, and innately curious adults — friends who listen to the BBC and NPR, who follow the news in several languages, and who vote Democratic only because there is no viable socialist alternative.) And I suspect that their reluctance to reflect personally on the dead, a reluctance bordering on hostility, may have something to do with fears they entertain over what they might discover there, or, more importantly, what they might discover about themselves.


You are cordially invited to attend Music Memorial Sunday on May 17 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.The…

Posted by St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Saturday, May 2, 2015

We know what we know because of the place and the way we are embedded in time and space, here and now. Twenty years, even ten or five, in one direction or the other and everything changes. By its very nature, all experience is solipsistic. For this reason, much as preoccupation with the future induces hope, so preoccupation with the past — with the dead — tends to induce melancholia. The dead have been deprived for all eternity of experiencing our time-space horizon. And, yet, I am (and we are) the future in which they hoped, not only in general terms, but concretely, actually, we are that future.

It was with this in mind that the Jewish mystic Walter Benjamin noted, shortly before his own death, how

The past carries with it a temporal index by which it is referred to redemption. There is a secret agreement between past generations and the present one. Our coming was expected on earth. Like every generation that preceded us, we have been endowed with a weak Messianic power, a power to which the past has a claim. That claim cannot be settled cheaply (“Theses on the Philosophy of History,” Illuminations, 254).

Of course, Benjamin was a materialist, a communist. So what is Benjamin doing with this talk about “Messianic power”?

But, as I was saying a moment ago, I suspect that our reluctance to attend too closely, too intimately, with the dead may have something to do with the fears we entertain over what we might discover there, not least about ourselves.

Mozart’s Mass was composed and performed at an interesting historical moment. Written during the twilight of the Hapsburg Empire (a mere twenty months before the death of Maria Theresa), it invoked a world extravagantly sensuous, buried deep under the baroque folds of protocol, superstition, mystery, and faith, when bodily disposition and attitude were expected to perfectly reflect the disposition and attitude of the religious practitioner’s heart and soul: lush, full, and yet carefully fitted. And, indeed, this was precisely the function the Coronation Mass served in the early to mid-19th century, feeding the insatiable appetite of German speaking romantics for times and places lost to the rush of time. And, to this degree, it plays into the melancholia whose fixation on lost and irretrievable objects arrests the development of the mourner. It therefore deserves some comment that the Mass would become so popular in the nineteenth century among those looking ahead at their coronations to expand their powers and dominions over the course of their reigns.

For these hopeful monarchs, no doubt, invocation of a past blessed and sanctified by this Holy Sacrament was among the ways Crown and Cross could most effectively subdue subjects terribly anxious about the rapidly changing state of their world. Would it not be pleasant if that world would stop changing, would retreat, and fix upon this single glorious moment, the Holy Sacrifice taking place upon the Holy Alter wholly outside of time?

There is, of course, much sin in this hope, this wedding between Crown and Cross, this anticipation of future dominion. And, yet, surely we can appreciate with what anxiety those attending this Holy Mass might have experienced the prayers Wolfgang Amadeus put to music. Would it not be pleasant to call a halt to all of the catastrophes cascading across the face of our planet? Would it not be good to block them all out in the reenactment of this sacred rite?

And, then, I remember what is really being memorialized here: the death of a Palestinian Jew at the hands of Empire. Are we the future to which this memorial now lays claim?

Must-Must Read: Matthew Yglesias: Brookings Did a Symposium

Thanks Brad for reposting Matthew Yglesias‘ report from the Brookings Institute. For those of you who are finishing up your papers on transitional economies of Eastern Europe, Yglesias’ report offers a helpful summary. And, yet, like the course, the Brookings Institute meeting begs a couple of interesting questions: efficient for what? Equality for whom? As my students this fall will learn by reading A Marshall’s Principles, unless we are speaking in the abstract — the productive potential of all producers in some discrete economic system (a city, a parish, a country, the world) — investors today think short-term (Flash Boys short-term). Maximizing returns on investment measured in microseconds, of course, masks the long-run. As Jesus famously said, tomorrow will take care of itself. Really?

One of the more interesting outcomes of ECON 161 (thanks to Gerard Roland’s rigorous modeling) is a fairly sophisticated grasp of the incentives driving oligarchic behavior. We discovered that such behavior differs not a hair’s breadth from our own. Oligarchs too are seeking to maximize the returns on their investments and, not unlike the Koch Brothers in the US, oligarchs in former socialist countries recognize the efficiencies that are to be had from determining the regulatory climate in which money is made and lost. As Tom Franks pointed out in the Wrecking Crew, $100,000 on a Senate or House political campaign is likely the most efficient use of resources investors could make. Want to change the regulatory regime? Go for it! We like Professor Roland’s handling of oligarchy because it grasps and models the trade-offs entailed by this shift in regulatory regimes.

This, of course, relates to the other side of the Brookings discussion: democracy. I have argued elsewhere how democracy was already a dead letter once Frank Knight published his devestating criticisms of Lord Keynes in the 1930s. Therein, Professor Knight highlighted the terrible inefficiencies entailed by democracy, not only because it is slow, messy, awkward, and uninformed, but more importantly because the aims of res publica — the things we hold in common — are often at odds with the goals of efficiency. Professor Knight’s views were then updated in Gary Becker’s brilliant 1958 and 1962 articles showing, conclusively, first that the rationality of markets referred not to any specific economic actors, but to the market in aggregate (individual agents be damned), and second that markets were also more responsive than voting booths.

As Professor Yglesias rightly notes: oligarchy is inefficient; poverty is inefficient. And, yet. What investors have learned in the 1990s and 2000s is that wages really are elastic relative to other factors. Investors actually can (and have) transferred the efficiencies realized by stagnating wages, benefits, and employment precarity up the income hierarchy (T Piketty) creating huge efficiencies for those at the top. The second thing that investors have learned is how effective bread and circuses — or nationalism, or racism, or Marvel or DC Comics — truly are. In this respect, I am guessing that I am the only economist perhaps anywhere encouraging his students to ponder Michigan social scientist (formerly from Chicago) George Steinmetz’ treatment of authoritarian post-Fordism from a regulation theory standpoint. According to Steinmetz there are huge efficiencies to be realized through the shift from Fordist to post-Fordist regimes of social regulation and cultural production, not least in the self-monitoring, self-censoring compliance cobbled out of fear and insecurity.

Poverty ain’t that bad. Just ask the top of the income hierarchy. But, what about the great unraveling? Funny thing. As the regulatory and institutional frameworks disintegrate in eastern and southern Europe and along the seam running from north Africa to the northern subcontinent, huge investment opportunties are opening up; oh, yes, and huge risks. What we often forget (see G Arrighi) is that the beneficiaries of these arbitrage opportunities will be long gone once the bombs begin exploding. Begging the questions: efficient for what? Equality for whom?

What’s Wrong with Labour in the United Kingdom?

The news from England and Scotland is dismal. A stunning victory for the Conservatives and Nationalists. A disastrous loss for Labour.  It will be several days before I will pull myself together sufficiently to look at the figures in detail, but since we know the demographic make-up of the population as a whole, we already know that a disproportionate number of working families voted, inconceivably, for the Conservatives, leading me to wonder: what is wrong with labour?

What the figures, I believe, will show, first, is that working families have grown wary of macroeconomics’ famous “gains from trade” dictum, which states that if I want what you have more than what I have, and if you want what I have more than what you make, then we can both gain from trade; and, second, that working families have grown equally doubtful of a policy of open labour markets, eased immigration laws, and a social safety net that appears to benefit non-British residents, all of which the Conservatives successfully pinned on Labour, even though Labour assiduously denied these connections throughout its losing campaign. That is to say, I believe that what the numbers will show is that working famlies in the United Kingdom have become economic nationalists, a trend that we can observe throughout continental Europe, and a trend that does not speak well for the future of the EU.

One response to economic nationalism is to give it its due. Gains from trade are often over-rated because they assume “caeteris paribus,” all else being equal, which, of course, they never are. Erecting barriers to free trade can sometimes give national economies breathing space to collect themselves and carry on. There are, however, several problems with this response. First, it ignores the fact that finance and capital already enjoy fairly open borders. This means that, while finance and capital are free to trot about the globe taking advantage of whichever markets grant them the highest returns on investment, the same cannot be said for working families, which are inevitably weighed down by the disability of being somewhere in particular — Manchester, Edinburgh, Wales — and not in all places at once. This relative immobility of labour, in contrast to the freedom enjoyed by finance and capital, means that should the cost of labour in the UK stand but a hair’s breadth above the cost of its international competitors, finance and capital will always choose its foreign competitors over domestic labour. That simply stands to reason. A level playing field would therefore entail placing similar restrictions on finance and capital that labour cannot help but be saddled with.

But — and this is the second possible response — restricting the international flow of finance and capital is contrary to the founding principles of the new Labour Party. Ever since Tony Blair joined first Bill Clinton and then George W. Bush in a mission to free up capital markets, the deregulation of capital has been one of the crown jewels of the new Labour Party. Of course, it is obvious to anyone who enjoys even a primary school familiarity with economics that restricting labour markets while simultaneously freeing capital markets is simply another way of creating efficiencies by punishing domestic labour. This is not an argument in favor of restricting finance and capital markets. Rather, is it an argument in favor of joining the liberalization of capital and financial markets with the liberalization of labour markets, permitting both the freedom to travel where they like, whenever they like, without the burdens of purely parochial constraints, limitations, and peculiarities.

And there precisely is the rub. British working families in what seems to be fairly convincing numbers chose to punish Labour for what they perceived to be its contradictory positions on British economic policy. Do immigrant labourers place an undue economic burden on British working families? Of course not. The burden, almost entirely, arises from the disproportionate benefits finance and capital enjoy vis-a-vis domestic labour markets. Leveling the playing field would entail greater freedom in labour markets, not restricting these markets. Yet, this fact presents a real dilemma to new Labour, not least because the Conservatives campaign to pin the hardships of working families on government regulation, growing welfare rolls, and out-of-control immigration has been overwhelmingly successful. Labour is thus found on the wrong side of two fences, one of which they played a central role building, and toward the other of which they have displayed great ambivalence. For, we need to remember, it was Tony Blair who embraced the mantra of deregulated financial and capital markets. Yet, clearly, it was precisely the deregulation of these markets that deprived labour whatever benefits it might otherwise have enjoyed from restrictions compelling domestic capital to devote at least a small pitance of its profits to domestic investment. Free to roam the world, domestic labour markets have just as clearly been the victims of capital’s notorious wanderlust.

Yet, Labour also suffered from its ambivalence towards nationalism proper. Clearly among many working families, Labour is associated with the loose immigration policies from which they, wrongly, believe they are suffering. One might wish, of course, that British voters enjoyed a better grasp of macroeconomic principles. Here, however, we must not forget the cruel instructor who last taught them these principles. Once the American Charles Dawes convinced fellow banker JP Morgan to bale out Germany in 1924, capital began once again flooding into the British economy (on its way back to JP Morgan and the US). This made it seem as though all was well. But, since it was largely based on finance and not on capital improvements or manufacturing, the reality was not as it seemed. Eventually the bubble burst and the global economy was plunged into a Great Depression. And it was at this point that Lord Keynes, in his famous 1932 Atlantic Monthly article, delivered the terrible news that it might take a costly and tragic world war to lift the world out of this depression:

I hope that in the future we shall not adhere to this purist financial attitude, and that we shall be ready to spend on the enterprises of peace what the financial maxims of the past would only allow us to spend on the devastations of war (Atlantic Monthly, August 1932).

And, so, against its best interests not only Great Britain, but, it seems, most of continental Europe as well, is preparing itself once again to go back to school so that it can relearn why economic nationalism, deregulated markets, when combined with free financial and capital markets, form a toxic elixer. It was only after the dusts of war had settled that Great Britain and Continental Europe finally grasped the colossal mistake unregulated financial and capital markets had been in the absence of completely open trade and labour markets in Europe. Thus the birth of the EU.

I could be wrong. But I think that the polling numbers will tell something like the story I have traced above, which is, of course, scant reassurance for those of us who wish only the best for Labour, the United Kingdom, and the World.