Is it plausible that the ‘speculation’ bug is a CULTURALLY dependent variable? The following is an excerpt from Stead’s “House of All Nations,” pg. 233.
WILLIAM BERTILLION: England’s such a Christmas tree for sharepushers. Noble lords will sit on the board of any company for a couple of quid a sitting. And the public. Loco or idiotic. God, I’ve never heard of such people, except perhaps some peasants in Bessarabia, or the niggers in the Cameroons, who believe in what they believe in. Magic. Put up any sort of business that sounds utterly impossible and they gulp it down.
STEWART: England’s the world’s banker. Never failed yet, never failed yet. She keeps her word, that’s why…None of this – none of this speculation you get in the American stock market. Every Tom, Dick and Harry trying to make a pile-like in France.
Those peasants in Bessarabia were probably my ancestors. Magic is what the CIA uses to justify the ‘disappearance’ of certain ‘undesirables.’ Tom, Dick and probably Harry tried to make a ‘pile,’ but undoubtedly failed. And you know why they failed? It was because Steward and Bertillion were too busy propagating the benefits of liberal markets (to them), that they forgot where to stash the profits. Eventually it made sense to grow large bellies and secure an early retirement. While Cameroon starved.
Passing the hot-potato, from one intellectual elite to another is not a freak show, but a dramatic display of individualized reality. The irrational are dehumanized and left to be interpreted in light of racist cause and effect relationships. Darwin was a confused politician with nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon but march around in his underwear giving out Birth Control Pamphlets to young nyphomaniacs.
I simply don’t buy Kindleberger’s claim that certain countries differ in their speculative temperament from others; not because my intellectual currency is worthless, but because Kindleberger implies that CERTAIN cultural imperatives influence a particular (read: unwanted) type of speculatory activity.
His assertion is obviously circular. His assertion is also ethnocentric and wildly imperialistic. The English are better than the French who are better than the Americans who are better than…oh right, I forgot, this is why I’m writing a paper on asset bubbles. Ahem. The English are not better than the French, who are in turn NOT better than the Americans. They are all equally incompetent. If the level of alcohol best describes intoxication, England, France and the United States would all be serving life in prison for having frustrated the breathalyzer.
Convenience trumps consistency. Arguments are malleable. Massaging them is also not terribly difficult. To be outrageous is sexy. To be outrageous is also to be careful to select ONLY THOSE ARGUMENTS that fit your interests. It approximates shopping for clothes. What is despicable and in turn makes me want to vomit is the ease with which those intellectual elites nonchalantly point fingers, like petulant and obnoxious celebrities in need of attention. While completely missing the point. I will see to it that they be given mirrors.
And Tom, Dick and Harry certainly don’t help the situation. In fact, they make it worse.