So, yesterday St Paul’s Cathedral Chapter dropped its legal action against the camp protesters – not all of whom are anti-capitalist per se, despite the media shorthand categorisation – and the Corporation of London ‘paused’ their action to evict. This has allowed a fresh approach to the whole issue.
This morning I woke up to two stories: (a) the Archbishop of Canterbury writing in the Financial Times about the need now to move from general protest to specific solutions and (b) the Bishop of London doing a good job on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
The point of both of these was to push the agenda away from the protests themselves and on to the reason behind the protests: the frustration of millions of people around the world that the people who caused the global financial collapse continue as if little has happened (bonuses, etc.) and everybody else suffers. These questions – regardless of how we got to them in the last couple of weeks – will now be centre-stage as the particular ‘issue’ of St Paul’s and its handling of matters steps back into the less interesting shadows.
It would be interesting to see where the imagination is to be found within the spheres of pension funds, banks, financial institutions for re-shaping a global financial system in which reward is based less on numbers and more on ethics, and in which the distribution of wealth is driven by a vision of the common good and less by the compulsion to ‘have more’. The concept of ‘reqard’ might be significant here.
The world we are now in demands unusual business. That is to say, responses to the current crisis seem mostly to be technical and within current assumptions of what an economy is and how an economy works. It is at the level of assumption that the protests are directed.
What is now required – while these questions are on the front page, as it were – is a re-visioning of what an economy is for. Surely the mantra of the last thirty years, that we are economic beings in an economic market, is being seriously challenged. We do not exist for the market (the market economy); rather, the economy exists for us (a human economy).
This now needs to be cashed out in technical terms (bank taxes, challenges to assumptions about ‘attracting the right people by paying the hiughest salaries, etc.) and the advantages, costs, etc. identified. Many of us won’t understand the financial technicalities. But, we can certainly contribute to the articulation of an alternative vision.
Off to another day of meetings…