The Financial Times‘ lead editorial today, “Democracy’s Slow Cure for the Euro,” illustrates a growing willingness of “experts” to argue that people are too stupid. The opening phrase notes that rapidly changing financial markets often “outpace the capacity of democracies and their international institutions to control them” and then moves quickly to give a qualified endorsement of “managed democracies.” Russia is their example — a nation where “the ruling elite holds ritual elections which it always wins, and derives formal legitimacy from the people even though it governs with little reference to them.”
The FT recognizes that few nation states wish to emulate Russia but then goes on to note that “Still” Russia has been more quick to respond to threats to its banks, rushing credit to Cyprus to defend its over-extended banks. European nations, it suggests, have been crippled by nationalism (“flying the flags of states with high budget deficits at half-mast”) and seeing the roots of this sluggishness in the outmoded “Protestant notion that debts are sinful and demand public humiliation.”
Somewhat inconsistently, it goes on to note that it is correct to keep the pressures on Greece and Italy, neither of which it admits have done much to address their problems but endorses the French/German decision not to ask Greece to depart the Eurozone. Rather, the FT suggests given the impossibility of people conforming to expert opinion, the European Central Bank must step in to save the Euro, to stabilize Europe’s economy and to create prosperity. The debtor nations, it concludes, must also play their part in this non-moral act, making the reforms their constituencies now oppose so fiercely.
That experts allowed this crisis to develop, that traditional concepts of morality would have done more to fend off this disaster than have the “knowledgeable” views of our best and brightest, is a concept not yet envisioned by the FT. Perhaps, a closer reading of history might suggest a more generous treatment of the wisdom of Europe’s populace. After all Brecht was being sarcastic, when he had his characters complain similarly about the citizenry, stating, “If this keeps up, we’ll have to elect a different people!”