There are two cogent opinion pieces, both in the Telegraph, this morning that usefully summarise where we are. Peter Oborne catalogues the reasons for our dilemma and the failure of an adequate political response whilst Janet Daley reasons that State (or Super State) engineered redistribution of wealth has virtually killed the goose and that the initial inequality of outcome that is a product of true meritocracy is actually the only way to universal betterment. Neither pretend that the changes to come won't be arduous, painful, traumatic and turn the UK and Europe on its head, but both also offer a tantalising glimpse of a post-watershed world, the dawning of a new age. And it's as exciting as hell.
And a note on the banks. UK banks are still holding, or hiding, some $10 trillion of truly worthless derivatives. The problem remains that not only do the banks not know who is holding what but neither do the markets. To base a recovery on a mutual self-delusion that the banks are solvent is insanity - certainly unsustainable. Confidence won't return to the banking sector until the banks crash, taking their junk with them, and are replaced by unencumbered institutions. An excellent analysis from the 92 year old Anna Schwartz published in the WSJ some time ago is really required reading. Governments are reacting as though this were a replay of the 30s, a liquidity crisis. It isn't. It's a credibility crisis.
All governments are essentially reactive. Cameron was said recently to be furious (hard to imagine) at an analysis that recently demonstrated that Whitehall spent just 40% of its time on the government's agenda, with 40% spent on Brussels-determined matters and 20% on the mandarins' own agenda. But whereas Whitehall is either insulated from or impervious to the zeitgeist, politics isn't. The almost universal dissatisfaction with the central State, its institutions and agencies coupled with a growing antipathy for the large corporations is enhanced by a growing yearning to redefine ourselves as a nation and a people, a yearning reflected throughout Europe and that manifests itself as nationalism, anti-immigration and cultural awareness. If parties want votes, they need to reflect the mood.
And whether Christian or Humanist, our civilisation requires that during the coming turmoil we don't forget the corporal works of mercy; the sick must be cared for, the hungry fed, the naked clothed, prisoners comforted, the dead buried, the thirstful given quench, captives ransomed and the harbourless given safe port. But we're talking soup-kitchens and cast-off clothing depots here rather than a Welfare State that guarantees a new 42" plasma TV and Easyboy recliner for the indolent because the bloody Joseph Rowntree Trust defines these as 'basic human essentials'.
Policing, too, must change. Those who have enjoyed an easy ride for so long will riot, burn cars on the streets, loot and thieve and we must prevail against them. Last night's events in Tottenham are just an amuse-bouche for the events to come. Men may even need to form themselves into local bands to share the burden of community defence; on a rota day we'll finish work, snatch a bite of supper and don our kevlar vest and helmet and grab our baton for a night on duty. This will change utterly the role of the full-time police. We'll all be 'specials'.
But beyond all of this is the prospect of a new Britain, a nation reborn. To start with we'll be poorer. We'll be leaner. We'll make do with less. Human relationships rather than the latest consumer fads will prevail. But we'll have reaffirmed our control of our lives and of our national destiny - and this will bring riches to eclipse all the pain, all the endurance and all the loss. A new age.