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Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Wages of Self Destruction

Talleyrand has been thinking about the teachings of Teilhard de Chardin, and specifically about his notion of ever expanding structures of human organization which supposedly inspired Jean Monnet and other promoters of the European idea. Put more bluntly, this was Dwight Eisenhower’s solution to problems you couldn’t solve: enlarge them.

It is strange, even ironic, to witness the opposite taking place across Europe and beyond in slow motion. First the Greeks, the Irish, the Italians, et al, said it was the bankers’ problem to solve, then the politicians’. The French, Germans said it was the problem of the Greeks, Italians, et al to solve. The USA and China and virtually everyone else around the world say it is the Europeans’, or really the Germans’, problem to solve. And so on.

It’s not a case of passing the buck, merely. No, the pathology is deeper, or it seems so. Maybe enlarging problems was a twentieth century phenomenon; now we break them down and wish them away. Our global minds have grown smaller with our sense of possibilities and our courage. That may not be so bad. The problem however is that we are still living with a bevy of twentieth century enlargements that require constant care and feeding, with 'Europe' being at the top of the list.

Revolutions are made of the confinement by juxtaposition of mutually exclusive forms; in other words, when they fail to keep up with the times. One wonders what Teilhard would make of our current predicament. The more we try to break a problem down into soluble parts, the more we resist ‘contagion’, the bigger and more powerful it becomes.

The solution surely is to enlarge the problem faster than it can enlarge itself. But our leaders and governments seem constitutionally incapable of doing that. Papandreou, Berlusconi… They are only the first of many canaries to come.

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