At the end of part two I suggested that the mainstream justification for bailing out the banks, namely that by so doing we have provided them with the money they need in order to lead the rest of us to recovery by investing in the real economy – was what Goebbels and his boss would call The Big Lie. The banks have demonstrably and unequivocally NOT used the money they have taken from the public purse to invest in the real economy. Nor are they going to.
Why not? The reasons often offered for not lending are that there is no demand or that by not offering loans to businesses that look unsure in unsure times, they are just being prudent. And surely we want them to be prudent? These are excuses. The reason they are not going to lend and lead a recovery is because that is not what banking is about. Helping recoveries is what governments might chose to try and do but it is not what banking is about. Banking is about making maximum profit for those who own the banks (shareholders), those to whom the banks owe money (The Bond holders) and increasingly the senior staff whose bonuses depend not on how much the bank has helped anybody, but on how much money the bank has made. And the fact of our present predicament is that the banks can make much more money, much more rapidly by playing, even deepening, this recession than they can by trying to help us out of it.
This is an unpalatable truth, so it is important that there are lies to distract from us from realizing it. Thus we have been subjected to a multi trillion dollar lie that has been repeated on every news programme and in every financial column of every newspaper for the last four years.
Goebbels and A.H. said that if you repeat a big enough lie often enough people will come to believe it. What this maxim leaves out is ‘how’ people come to believe something they once knew, or at least suspected, was a lie? Why does a big lie work better than a small one? I think the mechanism is not forgetting or the over-writing of truth with lies, but relies on escalating mental dissonance. A small lie leaves the rest of reality untouched. The unmasking of a small lie does not require any great re-adjustment of the rest of your beliefs or your grasp of reality. A big lie, a very big lie, however, ties in to itself so much of the rest of your judgment of what is real and reliable that to question it becomes a painful mental act. It requires you pull the rug out from beneath yourself. It requires you undermine the very ground upon which you stand. That ground which you used to feel, still need to feel, is solid and firm.
To tackle a big lie can feel as if you are weakening yourself more than those you oppose. You feel the branch you are sitting on starting to weaken. Which makes it all the harder to defend what you are doing and saying against those who cast doubt not just upon what you say but upon your motives and even your sanity.
For many people the feeling of self-inflicted unease becomes too great. And the bigger the lie the greater this effect. To oppose a really big lie, particularly one vocally supported by a network of mutually re-enforcing powerful people and institutions who all claim they have your best interests at heart, is hard because of the sheer scale of what your opposition entails. To oppose the well constructed, well supported, really big lie you are faced with having to question far more than you want to. Questioning is hard to do. It sets one apart. No one likes to be set apart.We are by instinct social animals. If we must set ourselves apart we at least want to feel confident of where we stand. The really big lie ups the ante. It forces us to feel the widening circles of disruption of our own beliefs.
One can oppose the small lie from the solid ground of the rest of your beliefs. The big lie’s strength and defense is that it forces you to question all the ground you thought was solid; the ground you thought you could stand upon to make your stand. To question the big lie is to feel that you are casting yourself out. It is not a great feeling.
Which brings me to a point I have wanted to make for a while. Why do I write this blog? Why do you come here and expose your own thoughts? Why do we do it? My answer is to ask why do families tell each other the stories of their life together? Why do people recount the events they all already know? Why? Because the act of telling and listening to what is familiar and shared is how we bind ourselves together and how we create for each other new ground upon which to stand firm. I suggest we come here to tell each other the stories which bind us together and transform us from outcasts to builders and occupiers of a new society. In doing that we make for ourselves the things which our rulers fear most, which they wish most fervently we did not have – Clarity, Truth and from them Power.
Sorry to break here. I had not intended writing the above. I had intended a more focused substantive piece, setting out, as I promised at the end of part two, some last reasons why I think we are bailing out the banks, The above thoughts arrived and expanded of their own accord and displaced what I was going to write. I now have to leave for work. I will deliver the last part on Wednesday.