Thursday, August 11, 2011
Over at the Harvard Business Review Blog, Umair Haque, Director of the Havas Media Lab, posted on the social meaning of the recent riots in London. Here's a taste:
[London is] a poster child for the perverse dynamics of a Great Stagnation: a few super-rich get super-richer while incomes stagnate and decline for the vast majority of the "rest." And when the rule of law is visibly, easily flouted by the rich, it usually ends up being seen as laughable by the poor.
While some of Haque's ideas are a little too extreme for me, some are dead right. I particularly agree with his diagnosis of what he calls the "logic of opulance." ("Its glittering, unattainable fever dream seems to have driven the rioters mad.") Incidentally, this is no reason to believe that this will remain a European phenomenon.The Pew Research Center reports a 20:1 gap in wealth between whites and minorities in America.
These are troubled times for the global economy. There is a growing concern that Haque represents that foundational presuppositions need to be rethought for the new globally networked economy. As Benedict XVI puts it in Caritas in Veritate, what is needed now is "further and deeper reflection on the meaning of the economy and its goals." Surely this past week should call us to realize how urgently we need to do this now. As Archbishop Chaput was recently quoted as saying "If we don't love the poor, and do all we can to improve their lot, we're going to go to Hell."