Paul Lachine

Morals and the Meltdown

That today’s global financial meltdown is the direct consequence of the West’s worship of false gods is a proposition that cannot be discussed, much less acknowledged. But as long as we rely on technical fixes to plug moral gaps, we are bound to keep lurching from frenzy to frenzy, punctuated by intervals of collapse.

LONDON – After World War I, H.G. Wells wrote that a race was on between morality and destruction. Humanity had to abandon its warlike ways, Wells said, or technology would decimate it.

Economic writing, however, conveyed a completely different world. Here technology was deservedly king. Prometheus was a benevolent monarch who scattered the fruits of progress among his people. In the economists’ world, morality should not seek to control technology, but should adapt to its demands. Only by doing so could economic growth be assured and poverty eliminated. Traditional morality faded away as technology multiplied productive power.

We have clung to this faith in technological salvation as the old faiths waned and technology became ever more inventive. Our faith in the market – for the market is the midwife of technological invention – was a result of this. In the name of this faith, we have embraced globalization, the widest possible extension of the market economy.

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