Monday, 4 May 2015
While the Bank Holiday weekend world was waiting to wake up to the political ‘peak mong’ event that was Ed Miliband’s Moses Moment, as he unveiled the monolith soon to be dubbed #EdStone I was driving to work and catching a listen to the usual farming news and other esoteric stuff, including Something Understood in which various contributors argued for the world to be ordered on more spiritual grounds, rather than be driven by economics. The programme asked whether “…the economic growth that politicians use to judge their country's state of health is undermining our spiritual wellbeing”.
In positing the need for ‘spiritual economics’ the overall theme suggested we should aim to increase the sum total of domestic happiness rather than just worrying about the gross domestic product. The ultimate function of economic systems, the ‘real purpose’ of economic development, somebody said, should be to develop the full potential of human consciousness. This was, naturally, followed by lots of transcendental chanting as if to suggest that if we stopped considering humans as economic units the world would be happy and fulfilled and peaceful.
It’s a lovely idea, of course and the programme did take pains not to ignore the raw economic realities and the needs of the poor, suggesting that material desires, spiritual needs, art and culture needed to peacefully and cooperatively co-exist. But before we get carried away we might want to keep just one eye on the murderers and rapists and beheaders and apocalyptic nutters who would cheerily bring on Armageddon, given half a chance. And think also, of the charlatans who amass their own fortunes by preying on the seekers of the nebulous ideas of religion and ‘spirituality’ or as many would call them, the young and the gullible.
We’ve all had our moments of course; those Damascene enlightenments when we have imagined a world run on different principles. It is phenomenon which is undoubtedly more prevalent in the young and impressionable, but the fact that very few go on to actually live spiritually enriched lives is a true mirror of the reality of human society. We grow up so, apart from the very few who migrate to where you can live with meagre material means, or buy their new-world awakenings from the rich spoils of capitalism, it is beyond the grasp of most of us. In other words, much as with fairness, justice and foie gras, you can have as much spirituality as you can afford; either by sacrifice or by success.
The Labour Party is trying to tap into the morality versus greed narrative and suggesting that without natural greed we can have unattainable nirvana. We can all live to ‘our full potential’ if only we could, paradoxically, banish the competitive urges and material desires that drive strong economies. Greed may not be good, but it’s the best model we have. And Ed’s carved-in-stone pledges ignore the reality of political expediency, whereby all political promises are hostage to fortune as soon as fortune stops smiling.
It's spiritual, innit?
So, do yourselves a favour and elect a government that gives you a glimmer of putting you in a position to be at least be able to buy your own peace of heaven here on earth, rather than relying on a list of vague limestone pledges that could become builders' hard-core by Friday. Hold your nose if you need to, but vote with your head for the Conservatives where they can win and vote with your heart where they can’t. But whatever you do, if you really want spiritual peace of mind, don’t ever vote Labour.