Written on: 2. 11. 2011 in the category: news

Consequence, Greeks and Convoys

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Yes, I know I do bang about these historical things a lot, but that’s because I believe they’re important. The most important event in world history since the Reformation was the Great War. That unleashed the concept of Awful and Inescapable Consequence on Europe. That is, if you invade a country that has friends, the price to be paid is truly, truly awful. But then, in the succeeding years, the law of Inescapable Consequence was seen to be far too harsh. Was the price of Serbian national integrity, or the French alliance with Imperial Russia, or Belgian neutrality worth the hideous price that was paid in blood and treasure? The overwhelming answer was – amongst the western intelligentsia anyway – no. And entirely understandably.

By 1945, the law of consequence was largely discredited in the conduct of international and national and personal affairs. Whereas the British executed a soldier a week through the Great War for purely military offences, none were executed between 1939-45. Moreover, the publication of the Beveridge report in Britain in 1942 radically redefined the relationship between the state and the subject. Duties now lay in both directions: not merely must the citizen/subject (the two terms were now interchangeable) offer service to the state, just as a medieval villeinhad done to his lord, the state must protect the bodily, educational and medical welfare of its citizen-subjects. As this concept spread through western democracies, the perceived duties of the state grew exponentially, so that soon the notion of “consequence” became wholly alien in both private life and internal state-life: punishment for failure, or even non-criminal social-delinquency, was seen as harsh and reactionary and unjustified.

This culture of indulgence also spread to states’ foreign policies, and international treaties: the consequences for a state’s failure to abide by terms that it had agreed to were invariably mitigated by courts, and by lawyers who were steeped in the deranged ethos of this new land,which we may call Inconsequentia. Thus entire peoples forgot that fire burns and water drowns and gravity breaks skulls, and that those who neglect the lessons of their history are doomed to repeat them in new and unexpected ways.

Yet one fundamental lesson held true. Seventy years ago, as the U-boat noose closed around these islands, and protected convoys were all that prevented a walk-over, non-invasive victory by the Third Reich, the Royal Navy introduced a radical interpretation of the law of consequence to the merchantmen its ships were escorting. If a merchantman at night showed a light, it was warned to desist immediately. If it showed a light again, it was told it would be sunk without further warning if it showed a light a third time. I don’t know how many – if any – vessels were sunk in such circumstances, but I have no problem with the morals involved: one light could mean the extermination of the entire convoy, with a thousand men dead. Therefore extinguish its source, by death if need be. Threat works whenever violation of an Iron Law automatically invokes awful consequences.

But no Iron Law was evident when the Great Convoy that is the euro was formed. So Greece was allowed by the German convoy-master to join, though lanterns were burning on the forecastle, and the rigging was ablaze with lights.  For didn’t we all agree that in this Brave New World of Inconsequentia that it would be cruel and inhuman to impose The Law of Iron Consequence on anyone? Therefore, a blind eye was turned to the light in the heart of the convoy. And so now, the evil consequences of believing that there are no consequences are thus arrayed before us, as the Greeks, in essence, declare: spare them the price of their follies, or they will take the entire euro convoy down with them. For this is what invariably happens if you try to impose the deranged benignities of Beveridgeupon the ancient laws of consequence. Yet these cannot be annulled. They are ineluctable.

And soGreece ismerely a bloated and politically-berserk version of the welfare state that absolves its citizens all theirsocial delinquencies, the outcome of which can be seen in the vast sink-estates of Dublin, Limerick, Sheffield and Glasgow. It is seen in the ruinous debts that sovereign governments have created in order to bribe their electorates with an unsustainable generosity. It is seen in the colossal national health systems which are only made possible by the diabolical hall of mirrors that is inter-generational borrowing. And here we come full circle, because such borrowings only became financially feasible with the revolution in the world banking system that occurred between 1915-17, and that of course  was brought about purely to sustain the madness of the Great War.

“Consequence” can be spelt in many ways: duty, responsibility, obligation, debt – but most of all, “punishment”. And if you consistently ignore the law of consequence, and the persistent rogue-light in the galley goes unrewarded with a five-inch shell in the wheelhouse, why, sooner or later, the U-boat wolf-pack will get amongst your convoy and sink the lot, along with all thegold and gear and grainthat you need for national survival. Andthen not just one light goes out, but them all.



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