10 September 2012

In Crisis Motto

"Keep calm and carry on." 

I suppose there's nothing quite like dusting off a quaint old British Second World War morale watchword. And all the more so in time for a London-hosted Olympics. How utterly characteristic, too, of those sturdy, stodgy, unvisionary wartime Brits. Observe - "keep calm" - not a shred of a sense of real glory in them. Or of those things most worth sacrificing in order to win it. Worst of all - and on such a potentially heroic occasion - to remain so punily, pathetically human in their scale and proportion, and perspective, of things. I mean, if monstrous times don't justify becoming a bit of a monster oneself, what does? But then by the same token, don't relatively dull, listless, uncertain times (as our own are often alleged to be) require a that-much-more deliberately disproportionately monstrous energy? And enthusiasm?

So what might be a fittingly dynamic, 21st-century American counterpart - or even rejoinder - to a modestly 20th-century British crisis slogan?

"Get all worked up, and carry it right off a cliff?" 

And why not? What's the point of truly believing in (i.e., taking to its limits) anything - even a business model - if you're not prepared go crazy with it? Neither, I'm told, is there anything quite like a serious economic downturn for separating wheat from chaff, men from boys, women from girls, fit from unfit. Perhaps it's time we laid the groundwork for a whole new series of economic paradigms: man-made disaster as the better man's made-in-heaven opportunity.

To do what, you ask? Why, yet further to improve to himself; to extend the frontiers of human (or is it post-human?) triumph over nature; to distinguish the superior man's hardwon greatness from the mediocrity of that always-too-abundant herd which deserves only failure. And as for the general state of the world, surely there's no better raw material for the properly innovative man or woman than a clean slate? Indeed, might it not be reasonably asked (I can almost hear the ghost of H G Wells with his ebullient "Fresh starts! fresh starts!"):

Can the slate ever be clean enough?

So why not just take the whole rotten system and plunge head-over-precipice? Who knows what undreamed-of supercreatures - uh, make that creators - may yet emerge from the rubble?

(NOTE: For those readers as yet unsure of my drift - yes, this was indeed a swipe at not just Mr Hopeful Audacity, but Bush the Younger. And Greenspan. And Clinton. And Gingrich. And . . . )

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