The Halo Halo! Column from the December 2011 issue of the Socialist Standard
Yes, it’s December at last. The shops and high streets have been inflicting their Christmas spirit and other assorted Christmas crap on us for weeks now. There’s no escape from it, so let’s just get it over with. Welcome, then, to your jolly, festive, merry Marxian, Christmas issue of the Standard.
So what’s been happening out there on the ‘peace and goodwill to all men’ front? Well, unfortunately, the season of goodwill got off to a shaky start back in October when the hierarchy at St Paul’s Cathedral couldn’t decided what to do about the anti-capitalist protesters camped on their doorstep. It was a tricky situation because, as we all know, Jesus saves. (Assets managed by the Church Commissioner amounted to nearly £6 billion including stock market and other investments according to a www.propertycommunity.com report dated 10 November 2008) so it wouldn’t do to upset the bankers too much.
“What would Jesus do?” they asked each other. His reply is not recorded but within days there had been three senior clerical resignations and they decided that although they couldn’t ignore the protesters, perhaps after a few subtle hints and a flood of pious and suitably banal clichés they’d all go away.
A “loss of moral compass” and a “gap between peoples values and the way our country is run” were discovered. A “wake up call” and a “crisis of concern” were announced. And it was solemnly declared that “maximising shareholder value should no longer be the sole criterion” for screwing the workers. “Fairness and a sense of proportion” were required, and there was a “pressing need to reconnect the financial with the ethical”.
The next move was to appoint Ken Costa to head a new initiative to build links with the banking industry. Costa who has been a banker for 30 years and is the former chairman of an investment bank is now chairman of the Alpha International organisation that runs evangelical Christianity courses all over the country. He is also said to read his bible at breakfast every morning.
So, can we expect a miracle from Ken, the god-bothering banker? Don’t build your hopes up too much. He holds the view that “The New Testament’s way is the responsible enjoyment of all the good things that we’re given. And by responsible I mean the recognition of where the goodness comes from”. But unfortunately, no, that doesn’t mean he realises that all wealth is produced by the working class.
Good Christian men are not all rejoicing in other places this Yule-tide either. There’s one hell of a ding-dong going on merrily on high between Ireland and the Vatican. Following the row earlier this year over the Catholic Church’s handling of the sex abuse cases and accusations that the Vatican had encouraged secrecy, relations have plummeted even further. Catholic Ireland has closed its embassy to the Vatican. It was being closed said Dublin’s foreign ministry because “it yields no economic return”. Yes, even saving lost souls has to be economically viable.
The Vatican was said to be “extremely irritated” by the statement equating diplomatic missions with economic return. Particularly, it said, because the Vatican sees its diplomatic role as “promoting human values”. Presumably they don’t mean the kind of human values they demonstrated in the numerous Catholic priests’ sex abuse cases?