We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these things were produced by some wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God Who made us.
Financial turmoil has hit the world. It appears to have its roots in the deregulation of capitalism that began over a generation ago. Its free market economics, inspired by Hayek and Friedman, appeared in the 1980s. In the US it came to be called Reaganomics, in the UK Thatcherism. Thus came the self-indulgent yuppy period of Porsches and filofaxes, which developed into the equally self-indulgent period of Lamborghinis and blackberries. Fallen human nature is the same; only the words change.
Of course, nobody would suggest that it would be good to return to the Soviet-style, State regulations of the past. These were imposed on the UK, for example, by various British governments since 1939 and built on by Labour governments in the 1960s and 1970s. But today it does appear that the pendulum swung too far. Times changed from the interventionist State over-regulation of financial markets to laissez-faire under-regulation – the law of the jungle. Deregulation became disorder.
The bursting of the current speculative bubble is then a necessary correction. It stems from vastly over-inflated property prices, financed by huge amounts of debt. This was sourced by years of utterly irresponsible bank lending to individuals, who would never be able to pay back their borrowings. In the name of the fatted calf of profit, a greedy banking sector, given all possible freedom by irresponsible politicians, lent what they did not have to lend. Their day of reckoning has now come.
Spiritually, the root of all this is in greed, the lust for money.
However, the last twenty-five years of greed for money, financial power, has been matched by greed for domination, political power. The sin of self-indulgence led to the sin of self-importance, ‘we know best’, and intervention in the affairs of others. Such ‘political deregulation’ meant the unruly and illegal invasions of other countries, a process that goes back to the invasion of Grenada 25 years ago, on 25 October 1983. Of that invasion, carried out against international law, even the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was to write: ‘This action will be seen as intervention by a Western country in the internal affairs of a small independent nation, however unattractive its regime’.
This latest phase of millennium-old Western imperialism has included more anti-Orthodox crusades. This time, unlike the first time when they took place in the south of Italy, the British Isles, the Middle East and Constantinople, they have taken place in Serbia, the Ukraine and lately in Georgia. Here, a mafia-inspired, CIA frontman imprisoned or exiled the democratic opposition. Like his compatriot Stalin, who first attached South Ossetia to Georgia, he thought that he could do the same. With foreign arms and training, the Caucasian warlord had been led to think that he could invade and commit genocide now free South Ossetia. His is the same story as Saddam Hussein, who nearly twenty years ago thought he would be allowed to invade Kuwait.
Like decent Georgians, decent Americans are being betrayed by their government. And Georgia is only the latest example of Western military overstretch. As US Republican politicians like Pat Buchanan have commented, the current Washington administration has bankrupted the US with military adventures around the world. In imitation of it, the current UK government has done no better. In reality sorely needing to cut taxes and improve public services, instead it has wasted tens of billions of pounds on busybodying in countries which never presented any threat to it.
The parallel with the old USSR is obvious. That too was a country which bankrupted itself in political adventurism, with its futile military meddling. Ironically, it was also in Afghanistan that the USSR also bit off more than it could chew. That country has become the graveyard of meddling Empires, whether British, Soviet or American. However, it is notable that all the countries which took part in these imperialist interventions are now all suffering economically.
Spiritually, the root of all this is in pride, the lust for domination.
Many years ago an experienced priest told me that in missionary work, you should ‘start small, in the hope that you may perhaps finish big’. ‘However’, he added, ‘if you start big, you will most certainly finish small’. This is the rule of humility that regulates all human activities. Self-indulgence and self-importance always punish themselves.
The demons of self-indulgent egoism and self-important pride crept into some Western minds just before and after the collapse of Communism in the 1980. With their ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Triumph of the West’ fantasies, they inspired the globalist illusion of ‘The End of History’. Today those demons are laughing with glee at human foolishness and vanity.
We would suggest that there is now an opportunity for Western pride to be reregulated, tempered and healed. This comes in the form of the current economic humiliation. For to become humble now means finishing smaller. Thus, order is to be made out of disorder. Sadly, humiliation is now the only cure for those who did not listen to the many earlier warnings to be humble. Pride does go before the fall. Nemesis indeed.