The Heavy Heart of Betrayal


I think sometimes the source of our bitterest sorrow comes from those whom we once trusted and let into our minds (and yes, even our hearts) but then betrayed us.

I certainly intend to post some “lighter” fare in the immediate future but before I turn and take a rest, time for one last dance (at least for now) with the topic at hand – in this case, The Economist.

I’ve spoken and read English since I was a child and I traveled much, living and visiting many countries. Whether at the newsstand or delivered in the mail via a subscription (Rom: abonament), The Economist was always part of my life. Last week during my “vacation” I even found an old issue from early 2010 wedged behind my sofa – still with its price of over 8 U.S. dollars.

It’s certainly an impressive magazine, The Economist is. It comes printed on glossy paper and the words inside are written ever so professionally with its polished public school British grammar and style. Compared to “comparable” American news magazines like Time and Newsweek, it is a bright diamond amidst junky costume jewelry.

Certainly The Economist covers more topics and more “true” news from more countries and regions of the world than any other news magazine (in English) that I’m aware of.

And the back of every issue is filled with employment ads written in tiny type – jobs that are the cream of the crop, prestigious positions at the United Nations and other similar organizations. It’s the magazine that educated people read, politicians, statesmen, leaders, business chiefs and yes, even economists.

And yet I cannot see a single well-crafted issue on the shelves of my local newsstand without shuddering. Because beneath the shine and the glamor of its perfect formatting is a deep sickness. And once your eyes and heart can pierce the sheen of its never wavering confidence and tones of absolute certainty, you can never look at it the same way again.

To begin with, none of the articles ever include the author’s name. There’s never a person out there whose byline you can look for and know what to expect. No. Almost every article (including on their blog, as I linked to in my last post) is written in a voice of “God on high”, with neither credit nor culpability ever given to any mere mortal writer. Even the title speaks of that, The Economist, not many “economists” but one, forever and ever, amen.

Far worse than that however is that The Economist is actually a religious publication, although they would deny that even to themselves. Their faith is not that of Jesus or the Prophet Mohammed but rather that of business, perhaps Business with a capital B, and not just Business but the flashing neon cross of the Great Modern Hope, known as the lily white tower of Capitalism.

The Economist do not truck in the ordinary, honest business of a farmer unloading a sack of potatoes hard won from the dirt nor the craftswoman selling her weavings at the market. No, it is the great god Capitalism whom they worship, the prophet that perennially shouts to the rooftops that yes, things are bad now for you (the little people) but we, the Elect, know a great Plan and if we are allowed to implement it untrammeled by your petty concerns and greed, the Future Will Be So Bright We’ll All Need Shades.

Perhaps today it’s the sniveling Hungarians who quaveringly beseech their doctors for too many pills. Perhaps it’s the Romanian government employees who are paid too much. Perhaps it’s the thrifty German folken who need their budgets cut, benefits reduced, services slashed. Or even the proud British, with their overly “wasteful” concern for the health and education of their citizens and long-term residents. Or perhaps even Mighty Columbia herself, America, a land crumbling into violent anarchy and ruinous disease before our very eyes.

But to whomever the watchful eye of The Economist turns to in their next article, their next issue, the prophecy is always the same: “Little people, rabble rousing ingrates that ye are, suffer unto the Kings of Commerce, the Mighty Wizards of Capitalism, and all will be well! Allow your leaders to take your money in taxes and fees (and the parasitic VAT) and do with it what they will, yea even unto offloading most of it in the form of electrons to Bankers and Financial Experts you’ll never meet in your whole life, and only thus will The Good Life be yours!”

Does it matter that the roads crumble so soon after they were built with such great expense? No. Does it matter that the poison fumes of petroleum blanket the countryside so that a chosen few may cart themselves about at lethal speeds? No. Does it matter that the very bread that ye’d put in your mouth rises in price every year, every month, almost every week? No. Does it matter that the garlic on your table and the socks on your feet and the computer screen shining its electronic light into your eyes were made by slaves in a far off land? No.

Because all must bow before the Messiah of Capitalism, the great modern hope for a shining future for all of us. And just because those in the cockpit of the machine, the very Masters of Finance, are dying inside of rot and decay, their wicked hearts kept pumping via machinery and pharmaceutical trickery, does that mean the Rabble should abandon the course? No. No, no and always no.

All the money could be theirs and it would still never be quite enough, would it? Every tree, potato and hectare of arable dirt could be boxed up, shipped out and sent to be turned into trumpery gizmos and gadgets and it will wouldn’t be enough. If every ill and drug-weakened person were abandoned to die for the sin of being unproductive, if every able person were literally chained and yoked to the great Engine of Capitalism, if human rights were abolished and forgotten and legislated out of existence and if there were a camera on every corner, a wiretap on every phone and a backdoor virus in every computer, it would still never be enough.

Until every single human being’s labor has been captured, until every plant and tree and grass and root has been harvested and processed, until every animal is food, until every last mineral has been dug out of the ground, all to plump up the electrons in some far off databank, will it ever be enough.

Until then we must all groan under the lash for the Good of Modernization, of Capitalism and of Loans and staggering Debt. All for our own Future Good, of course, so sayeth the prophet Adam Smith.

And so sayeth The Economist. So sayeth Forbes. So sayeth The Wall Street Journal. So sayeth Jeffrey Franks. So sayeth the World Bank. So sayeth the EBRD and USAID and the IMF and the BIS. So sayeth Mugur Isarescu and the Trilateral Commission and the Council of Rome and the Council on Foreign Relations. Aye, so say they all.

And yet I wonder if they know, in the core of their shriveled and fearful souls, just how little time they have left. And whether it was all worth it, after all.

Lay on, Macduff, and damn’d be him that first cries, “Hold, enough!”

-Macbeth, William Shakespeare

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. claudiu says:

    I really don’t get you(politically speaking) Sam, and I consider myself to be a moderate. I am against capitalism on the rampage but then again I am also against the dangerous hypocrisy of the left always preaching to me the endless drama of the “hard working farmer”. There has to be some balance between the two for anything to make any sense. Some balance between welfare and competition. You seem to think that the banking system out there (as corrupt and foul as it may be) is completely unnecessary and somehow the hard working farmer will be able to grow potatoes forever without anyone subsidizing his farmland.
    Everything in this world is built on credit. Because nobody has enough money (well maybe except an irrelevant group of few) to build anything out of their own income. Sometimes, somewhere you are going to need to find someone (like a bank, or a govt) willing to stake some money to you hoping that tomorrow you will be able to pay him back with interest. There is nothing evil or foul about this as long as people don’t corrupt it (like they have, I will give you that).
    One thing I have noticed recently is the whole fair trade movement which reminds me of environmentalism in its early stages. On another note, I really used to hate environmentalism because of its aggressiveness, but I do understand its need. The need we have right now is for FAIR TRADE, no more bullshit payments to intermediaries, a clean and transparent financial system. This, unfortunately, can only be pushed mainstream from the bottom to the top and not the other way around.
    As for the plight of the hard working farmer, I always considered that too many disasters were caused by people being manipulated into sacrificing their lives, their incomes, their futures for some OTHER GREAT CAUSE (sacrifice it for the freedom of others, said the West, for the poor, said the EAST, for GOD, said the Vatican, for NATURE, said the environmentalists, for THE STATE, said the politicians). How many disasters were ever caused by the phrase: Worry about yourself?

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  2. fLoreign says:

    I guess this is the consequence of the giant leap of faith from the US Democrats, which are to the left of the Republicans, but way more to the right than most of the European Liberal parties (believe it or not, in Europe liberal generally means center-right and does not bear pejorative connotations), to the place where liberals (PNL) and social-democrats (PSD, former commies) have recently signed the pre-nup agreement.

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  3. Andy H says:

    This, by the way, is the man responsible for the majority of Economist articles on Romania and eastern Europe in general http://www.edwardlucas.com/ Though I guess h’es recently been promoted and is more of an editor than he was before.

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  4. Daniel says:

    Sam,

    You are very ignorant man. Sorry to say that, but it happens to be true.

    If you think that “roads crumble so soon” because of capitalism, if you think “the very bread that ye’d put in your mouth rises in price every year” because of capitalism, if you think Jeffrey Franks, the World Bank, IMF & co have anything in common with capitalism … then you truly don’t have the slightest idea what you’re talking about.

    And just so you know, I’m not defending The Economist (which, like all things human, is all too fallible) – I’m just tired of all this endless posturing against spending your money as you see fit (because when someone rails against “capitalism”, that’s their real motivation – a desire to control other people’s economic choices).

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    1. Sam R. says:

      Well you aren’t the first person to call me ignorant nor will you be the last :P But tell me then, what makes wheat more expensive then if not for the reasons I mentioned? Do the plants not grow from the dirt the same year after year?

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      1. Daniel says:

        To quote the greats – “inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon”.

        In other words, if prices are constantly rising across the board, it’s because daddy Isarescu (and Bernanke, and Trichet, and pretty much every head of a central bank) keep PRINTING MONEY.

        And do you know why they do that ? Because inflation is a tax. And there’s nothing governments love more than taxes. And inflation has the advantage of being invisible (to the untrained eye) and unavoidable.

        Now you tell me what that has to do with capitalism.

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  5. Dacia Felix says:

    Sam, how refreshing is that you wrote this post. If I were to say that, I would be called an indoctrinated by communism relic of bygone times, a dinosaur who cannot adapt to modern times, etc, etc etc No matter that I have lived in UK for nearly 20 years now.

    Your post sums perfectly what I am also thinking. In my case, I am wondering whether what is happening now in Romania was worth risking my life in the afternoon and evening of 21st December 1989 in Piata Universitatii of Bucharest and the day of 22nd December in front of the former Comitet Central ( the place where ‘’maslina intzeapata’’ statue is located :-). I did not fight for EU to equate Romanians to gypsies, to see my country becoming a pariah in Europe, to see Franks and IMF becoming despotic rulers of my beloved Romania. And I finally understood why Ceausescu wanted that all international debts be paid.

    But that is not the purpose of this post. I want to share you what I discovered about The Economist, in those days of the 90’ when we Romanians were full of hope, PNTCD was the main opposition party and its newspaper, Dreptatea, was a daily broadsheet. I was the International News Editor and it was my responsibility to prepare every day the international page of the newspaper. In 1990 Romanian newspapers had only 4 pages, the international page being the last one of the newspaper. As a Dreptatea news editor, I had access to News Agencies daily news, Agerpres, then renamed Rompres, AFP (Agence France Presse) and Reuters.
    By reading agencies’ news I discovered that most of the articles of The Economist were copies, almost word by word, of economic articles send by the like of Reuters and AFP . These copied articles were not signed, to avoid plagiarism accusations. I suspect that the cut and paste practice, is still alive and kicking at The Economist, hence the unsigned articles.

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    1. Dacia Felix says:

      Instead of AFP it should read AP (Associated Press). Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa

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