Do you have any shares? Or should that read: do you still have any shares? With world stock markets in a succession of dead cat bounces, perhaps not. Now that the sobering truth is out that the most sophisticated minds of capitalism were stumped by collective greed and wishful thinking, RENATE OGILVIE believes we all need to take a sobering 3 minute shower.
When Karl Marx described the convulsions of capitalism, the power of his language was such that the 19th century sat up and took notice. And even now, that he himself appears to be on the rubbish heap of history, the embers of his rage are still glowing, the truth of his analysis is still lurking somewhere under the flash covers of globalisation.
Under the expensively suited exterior mayhem reigns. This is what we have always suspected. Insane risk taking and excess. Hubris and blood on the floor. CEOs pleading rather than holding forth. It could be quite entertaining except that it will affect us all. The media are certainly taking it seriously with regular bulletins on the finance markets - the life pulse of capitalism. No clowning infotainment here. Just the facts.
So how to cope in times when the suave ABC money expert publicly announces that he is selling all his shares and going into cash. Wow. This is almost like buying raw diamonds and sewing them into our hems in case we have to flee the country unexpectedly. Is it that bad? It is unlikely that capitalism will die very soon and it seems we are stuck with it. Karl Marx's children just made too much of a mess of the alternative.
In a parliamentary democracy capitalsim is a reasonably tamed animal, and we shouldn't forget that it has also brought us unparalleled comfort and universal education, modern medicine, mobility and foreign holidays, property and leisure, beauty and style. But we need to modify the greed on which it is based.
In uncertain times ones goes back to basics. What gives us joy? What is of value in the face of the inevitable fact of our mortality? Well, the answers are old: family and friends. Contentment. Community. Small rather than bloated, slow rather than fast, dimmed rather than wastefully bright, local rather than loaded with food miles. Self restraint rather than excess. Making do rather than craving and demanding.
Is all this boring? Perhaps just a bit. Visiting an eco-friendly house the other day I was a little sad at the, yes, drabness of it all. But if we have to pay for beauty and style with an arid poisoned planet, then beauty and style become very relative. If our addiction to consuming ends life itself, then the price is just simply too high.
Top image: It couldn't last forever by Dontatro Bryce