Bostonians tar and feather John Malcolm, Customs officer, 1774
The sudden change is disconcerting. For years I might suggest society would be improved if we sacked these vastly overpaid bankers, and the response would be some variety of “Here he goes again”.
Now if you say the same thing the response is “SACK them? I’ll tell you what we should do, we should cover them in marmalade and lock them in a greenhouse full of wasps, then scour the stings with a Brillo pad. Then prick them with hedgehog spikes, smear them with fish paste and dip them in Sydney Harbour, then glue them to a pig and send them into an al-Qa’ida training camp with a letter announcing they’re a work of art, never mind sack them.”
But [Karl Marx] might also dispute the idea attributed to him, that slumps make the collapse of capitalism inevitable. Because while he said SLUMPS were inevitable, he also said the outcome wasn’t inevitable at all, but depended on whether the poor allow the rich to make them pay for it.
Marx also had not foreseen a interlocking, worldwide financial system of the complexity that we have now, although he certainly understood what Credit Default Swaps (CDS) were about, he called such bizarre creations “fictitious capital.”
And therein lies the problem, if first thing we do is kill all the bankers and blow up the CDS then, rather than a worker’s paradise, we’re liable to have shrieking chaos. As an example, look at Lehman Brothers. the US government didn’t prop them up, and allowed them to fail. The resultant carnage ended up, among other catastrophes, cratering Iceland (because their banks used Lehman as their primary lender.)
The gaping black hole that is AIG is sucking up more billions of our money. Why? because they wrote zillions in CDS and the counterparty risk is everywhere. If Lehman tanked a country when it fell, the collapse of AIG would wreak severely more damage.
The workers are part of the system too. Collapsing economies fall on them harder than on the monied class. So how to we reform / change / replace the current dysfunctional economic system with one that works without unintended consequences like hundreds of millions more out of work and more demolished countries (assuming we even have the power to effect such changes?)
And while tarring and feathering someone looks like it might be jolly good fun, it’s really just a form of torture, isn’t it? Hot tar on naked skin while being abused by a mob…