Thousands of young Australians have just begrudgingly traded family luncheons for shifts paying penalty rates this Easter weekend. A lot of them probably have already spent their paycheques before even receiving them; a good time on the town beckoned, and let’s be honest, it beckons still. It’s not their fault they prioritised cash over family, their parents probably gave them the okay. Besides, it’s the various businesses across the country that are responsible for not observing age-old customs by trading this weekend.
Probing this line of thought further, aren’t business owners merely responding to the demands of the consuming public? They wouldn’t trade if they thought no one would come to buy. Liberal economics and conservative values would seem to be disjunctive these days. Indeed, this pattern has been observed this week passed in all its hydra-headed ugliness.
Coles boss John Durkan not being content with his company’s cornering of the hardware game after most likely forcing Woolies owned Masters’ to shut up shop requires more victories over the Australian people. Durkan is currently advocating for reform on trading hours, penalty rates, and other regulations. Speaking his mind on the interchangeability of his workers Durkan pondered
How is it that a Coles team member working a Monday shift between 8am and 12 noon is paid a different rate to the team member working a Sunday shift from 8am to 12 noon when they are doing the same work?
Traditionally this wasn’t the same work, it was a sacrifice on the part of the worker to take a Sunday shift. Sundays used to mean something more than working for a coke baggy, one was giving up church and the Sunday roast, foregoing a day of rest with friends, family, and peers. In a way, the broader culture has made it a meaningless day and businesses are slowly realising this fact, so we can’t hold old mate to this standard alone.
However, in reimaging his workers this way, we can place another devaluation of our way of life squarely on his shoulders. Urbanite, countryside, and suburban Millennials have all grown up clutching our mothers’ skirts navigating the aisles of a local Coles or Woolies, and the long serving staff have seen us grow up. Perhaps they also have seen the earlier members of our generation raise a family. This communitarian spirit is the very reason why such supermarkets became iconic in our nation, not because of low cost home brands. Increasingly such old workers are replaced by recent arrivals who have zero interest in the community, or more likely by a self-checkout. And so it goes.
Jihadis showed the world just how in tune they are with the zeitgeist by paying as much respect to Lent and Easter as our corporate masters. No cause for consternation here, what’s one more organisation joining the ranks of other forward thinkers? The real surprise, instead, was the way global markets reacted to the recent bombings in Brussels.
The expected losses to tourism related shares have been offset by the global sigh of “meh” as exchanges bounced back while the blood was still pooling in Brussels. Accendo Markets’ head of research Mike van Dulken has lauded this desensitisation, stating that it is “encouraging to see such growing defiance to the horrors of the world in which we now live”. Encouraging for globalists watching with glee as the effete bourgeois type transitions to the Last Man immune from History Redux: Schmittian boogaloo happening around him.
This braggadocio didn’t happen over night, it took a series of steps originating in New York City the 11 September 2001. After the 9/11 attacks the US stock market closed for four days, the first time it closed since the Great Depression. The attacks also exasperated their 2001 recession. From here limp wrists turned into the clenched fist of revolution as stock markets took less time to recover. A few months in Spain after the Madrid bombing, less time after the London bombings, and a week a few months ago in France.
Liberalism has neutered Islamism of all power with this studied indifference. This becomes apparent when you consider Roger Scruton's understanding of the motivation behind 9/11. According to Scruton “highways and tower blocks are precisely the things that kill the Muslim city and send its children abroad, raging like [Mohammed] Atta for revenge against the modernist attitudes that have uprooted them.” Elsewhere Scruton has written:
The old Muslim city is a sacred place, in which no building can rise higher than the mosque, where streets are gulleys between aedicules and mouldings, and where all doors give on to places that are cool, quiet and sacrosanct. The assault on America was an assault on the American city, and on the American concept of the city, as a place opened up, surrendered to human functions, and removed from divine jurisdiction — the city of Lewis Mumford, though not, I think, that of Jane Jacobs. Again, if you looked on this event with the eye of a René Girard, you would discover, at the heart of it, an act of ritual sacrifice, in which death is summoned to re-sacralize the modern city, and to punish its secular ways.
The partisans of the Muslim city may have triumphed over the American city all those years ago, but the idea behind it, which we may call the invisible city of finance, remains undisturbed. It isn’t bloodied and unbowed because it is decidedly abstract, removed from all corporeality, it is bloodless. It is more blasphemous than the American city as its skyscrapers are limitless unlike the limited Twin Towers that dwarfed the minarets of a mosque. Limitless, that is, to match the maxim of infinite growth unbounded by the laws of logic.
The invisible city of finance is the product of a society that becomes a market itself, rather than a society with a market economy. It is one that embodies Oscar Wilde’s cynic who “knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing”. We were informed last week that the price of 35 lives is a few hours trading and our cultural traditions are of no value. This is not permanent; we have metaphysical and logical certainty that it cannot perpetuate itself forever. One day it must collapse under the weight of its hubris.
The human misery that will be unleashed that day will be unprecedented, but it can be lessened by our actions in the present. Perhaps there is something inherently wrong with us Anglo-Saxons and related Europeans in organically developing markets, but it is natural to us and was never intended for the whole world pace Hayek. There is no point in hiding behind utopian socialist schemes removing markets from the picture, instead a Socratic economics of skilled household management needs to be rediscovered as our ancestors knew.
In this view wealth and property are only such if they are beneficial to us as Xenophon’s Socrates says to his interlocutor “unless one knows how to use money, let him thrust it so far away, Critoboulus, that it isn’t even wealth.” Enemies can be of benefit to us, and we possess many. Although it may seem hopeless being beset by Islamists and globalists, among others, through our knowledge and deeds they will prove to be our most prized possessions today.
When we reform our economic thinking to be profitable to ourselves in the most profound sense, the lives of our people will be beyond measure and our culture will be of utmost value.
Roger Scruton, The Uses of Pessimism: And the Danger of False Hope, (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 146. ↩︎
Roger Scruton, A Political Philosophy: Arguments for Conservatism, (London; New York: Continuum, 2006), p. 141. ↩︎
Xenophon, Oeconomicus, 1.14, trans. Carnes Lord, in The Shorter Socratic Writings: “Apology of Socrates to the Jury”, “Oeconomicus”, and “Symposium”, ed. with interpretive essays and notes by Robert C. Bartlett, (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996); cf. Aristotle, Politics, 1253b1–1259b20. ↩︎
cf. Oeconomicus, 1.6 and 1.15. ↩︎