Musings —11.18.2011 09:17 AM—
“For the moment, it is a good sign that Mr Monti is being called “the professor”. It’s an indication that the people want him to succeed. Having been a professor myself and having done my time in politics, I would offer only one piece of advice: convince your people that you are doing this not for the banks, not for Europe, not for the bond market, but for them, your fellow countrymen and women. Remember they, not the bond market or the European Union, have the ultimate power. If they believe you are on their side, you can succeed. If they believe you are not on their side, you will fail and they can make your country ungovernable.”
The rest of his Financial Times essay is seemingly aimed at academics-cum-politicians in Greece and Italy, and it’s there if you want to read it. The above paragraph is the only part that references those of us toiling in the colonies.
The bit about the banks was interesting. I recall talking to him, during the 2009 global recession, and suggesting that we go after the banks – they, after all, were the ones who caused the mess in the first place, aided and abetted by laissez-faire conservative governments. Seemed pretty straightforward to me, and the likes of Trudeau and Chretien wouldn’t have hesitated a moment. Ignatieff, however, abjectly refused. His refusal wasn’t ever explained, but a refusal it certainly was.
That’s why the florid prose at the centre, there – “you are doing this not for the banks, not for Europe, not for the bond market, but for them, your fellow countrymen and women” – is a bit of a surprise. I don’t remember calls for that sort of stirring populism ever echoing through the hallways at 409-S, however much Bolsheviks like Ian Davey and I tried. Main Street always trumps Bay/Wall Street, I told him once, while he regarded me as if I was E.T.
Anyway, it’s all part of life’s rich pageant, I suppose. You live and learn. Sometimes you learn way too late.