Over the past 40 years there has been a systematic erosion of trust in the institutions we were brought up to respect.
The lessons of the Sunday Schools that we absorbed as children were shown by science to be nothing more than fairy tales, the men of God in the black cloaks revealed to be child abusers – when they weren’t attending bondage parties. (Thanks News of the World).
The NHS? Until the Doctors and Nurses were shown to be mistake prone individuals who required rafts of legislation to prevent them from killing us all.
Our Royal family? Divorced, dysfunctional, slightly mad, apparently able to shake hands with the murderer of sections of their family without making a tearful ‘victim’s statement’ from outside a court room, unlike those who have just emerged from court to tell of the trauma of being described as a ‘scrote’ on Facebook….
Our Civil Service? Those steady, reliable, slightly boring non-political figures that Maggie Thatcher decided couldn’t be relied upon to sensibly advise Ministers, so we acquired the raft of ‘special advisers’ – that went well, didn’t it?
We had the ‘Mother of all Parliaments’ – until the Telegraph got hold of the un-redacted version of MPs expenses, and we found that MPs were a corrupt and unscrupulous bunch ripping us off.
The City of London, that powerhouse of world finance? Until the banking crisis showed them up as a bunch of wide boys running round like headless chickens when they found that profits didn’t always go upwards.
Our genial Policemen, those trusted figures that could always be relied upon to tell you the time? From Macpherson onwards apparently we know them today as racist, unscrupulous, lying, conniving, chancers…..
Our media then? The BBC, the great newspapers of Fleet Street? Until the Leveson ‘Truth and Reconciliation Board’ revealed them to be regurgitators of press releases and illegally acquired personal information…
Our banks? Not just the witchhunt against overpaid bankers in general, but now the fine against Barclays has shown them to be champagne swilling liars fraudulently manipulating interest rates.
I think back to the childhood images we grew up with; the avuncular Bank Manager with his gold watch chain, the Dixon of Dock Green policeman, the City stockbroker in his pin stripes and bowler hat, the Matron ruling her wards (and Doctors) with an iron fist, the towering figures of the Press Barons bestriding Fleet Street, the Church as a sanctuary from all evil. In a series of orgasmic, rhythmic exposures, we have removed trust in every one of those institutions.
Interestingly, the Judiciary appear to have escaped this process relatively unscathed so far. So far. They must surely be next in line.
arguing discussing calmly, with Mr G last night, as I pondered all this. We do have a basic, logistical, need to trust some people, some of the time. It’s all very well saying ‘look after number one’ (which we do nowadays), its all very well saying become self sufficient (which we have, most successfully) at some point we have to engage with our fellow man and other than face to face barter, we have to trust a middleman in the process.
That was the origin of money, the token exchanged which had a known value. We lodged our gold with the bank, and they gave us a note or a token in exchange. We didn’t need to carry a pound of gold around with us and scrape off a sliver to buy a loaf of bread, we trusted the bank with the gold and exchanged a token for the bread.
So I have just one question for you today. When we have finished our witch hunt against the banks and worked ourselves into a lather of show trials of bankers, hung every last CEO, and made banking a criminal offence, what are we going to do? Carry our Gold and a sharp Stanley knife around with us, or lodge the gold with someone else that we trust?
And who would that be, pray tell?