Friday, 28 April 2017

Causation or Correlation?

When the South Sea Bubble, in 1720, burst, and when the Wall Street Crash happened in 1929 and the Great Depression ensued in the US and Europe no one thought it appropriate to suggest that the governments in place at the time had engineered these disastrous events in order to fulfill an appetite for rejoicing in or exploiting the suffering of the poor that followed. To have suggested such a thing would have been regarded as outlandishly perverse and irrelevant at the very least.
To suggest that the left behinds (who curiously voted Brexit en masse) are suffering now because the ruling classes enjoy and somehow caused their predicament rather than as a result of the 2008 crash must be open to discussion at least. Similarly, their plight may well have been caused by the effects of the brand new dispensations of globalization unforeseen, much as all the effects of the irrepressible Industrial Revolution were.
These economic disasters and giant technological movements sometimes just happen in what WH Auden called ‘the squalid mess we call history’ over which no one would be foolish enough to believe we have perfect control. To try to enlist them to an argument and contort them until they fit a narrative of grievance against those who just happen to be in government at the time is questionable. Making those foolish enough to be our governors into ogres on whom all the woes of the world can be pinned is a curious and popular phenomenon that satisfies a desire for simple rationalisations. It comfortingly provides us with scapegoats and we all need those.

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