This morning, I was delighted to attend the opening of Biblefresh in High Wycombe. The programme for the day looked superb and I was sorry I could not stay for it. Wycliffe Bible Translators set out a tremendous display which was a powerful reminder both of how many languages humanity has invented and of how many still do not have a Bible translation.
The Book of Job is a beautiful poetic allegory which seeks to address the problem of evil. It’s from Job’s response to the misadventures which befall him that we derive the expression, “the patience of Job”. The book introduces Behemoth and Leviathan:
“I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs, its strength and its graceful form.
Who can strip off its outer coat? Who can penetrate its double coat of armor?
Who dares open the doors of its mouth, ringed about with fearsome teeth?
Smoke, flames, snorting and so on and so forth: it’s not a comforting image.
Simply as a piece of ancient literature, the Book of Job is well worth a read but, for a contemporary account of Leviathan, I recommend David B. Smith’s excellent Living with Leviathan: Public Spending, Taxes and Economic Performance:
New Labour’s so-called ‘third way’, and the prevalent economic paradigm in much of ‘Old Europe’, appears to correspond to none of these categories [free market, socialist and ‘Butskellite’ mixed]. Instead, it appears to be a system under which the private sector maintains a nominal legal control over its capital and labour, but the returns on these factors of production are so heavily influenced by tax and regulation that the public sector ends up effectively controlling such returns. This sham form of mixed economy, which needs to be distinguished from the British mixed economy of the 1950s, has traditionally been associated with fascist regimes – for example, the gelenkte Wirtschaft (supple or ‘joined-up’ economy) that Goering implemented in Nazi Germany in 1936. Such systems represent an obvious intellectual attempt to reconcile a socialist-inspired desire for a powerful interventionist state with the wealth-creating force of ‘bourgeois-liberal capitalism’, and tend to be popular with politicians and bureaucrats, because they force all sectors of society to kowtow to the state and its functionaries if they are to remain in business. This means that such ‘third way’ systems can easily generate a rich harvest of corrupt favours, and maximise the opportunities for the political and bureaucratic class to acquire plunder and reward their supporters, and seems to explain why politicians who can slip free of democratic control tend to independently rediscover and gravitate towards the fascist model of economic organisation. It is certainly not being suggested that New Labour economic policy is consciously modelled on pre-war fascist precedents but rather that a combination of the Marxist- inspired New Left ideas of the former student radicals of the 1960s and 1970s, who now compose so much of the Labour Party establishment, when combined with an intense nanny-style authoritarianism, and the practical need to get elected, produced a synthesis that ended up with an economic approach that was functionally hard to distinguish from that of fascism.
Leviathan has always been a terror, but the contemporary version seems to me the far greater danger.