For British readers, it's been two centuries since the slave trade was abolished. American readers won't see that anniversary for two generations yet, but read on. Even within British jurisdiction (throughout the world), it was a generation after the trade was abolished, that slavery itself finally went, when the Baptist Missionary Society finally drove a stake through the heart of the monster, which was first assailed by Adam Smith and the economists, then waylaid by Quakers, who went a lot of the way towards total abolition, but then found other fish to fry. When correctly targeted, single-mindedness is the defining virtue of Baptists. At no stage in the struggle did the Roman Catholic Church actually help, preaching slavery as an evil only once it was a thing of the past and not a present reality of the global power structure. The Anglican Church eventually went in the right direction shortly before the last minute, as it often does, when Baptists and Quakers effectively grabbed an ear each and marched.
It will seem very odd to some that Medawar commences an article about the present and future economy of the Western world with a reference to non-conformist Christians of centuries past. But read it again: the Neremiah of the generation before Josiah Wedgewood, was Adam Smith, the Scottish economist. Who wanted to break the chains more than a century before the idea commended itself to Abraham Lincoln. As we try and shelter from the fallout of what some see as the collapse of Western Capitalism, there is no concept harder for us to grasp than that of economics as a moral science and capitalism as a mechanism for improvement of the human condition. But an educated man from Adam Smith's generation, would see naught but madness in an age where an "ethical" investment fund can shun all investment in aerospace companies because of a mere association with the arms trade -and quite happily put its client's money into a wind-turbine company that lies to its investors about its long-term viability, lies to taxpayers about the benefits (or electricity) they will get for the subsidies they are being asked for, and lies to regulators about the harm being done by the wind-turbines to the environment.
Flying isn't "ethical", lying, apparently, is.
In Adam Smith's time, capitalism meant a probity-based economic model. The word "capitalism"wasn't around in the immediate aftermath of the English Civil War, but the thing was. It was created, not by idle and evil rich men, but by Baptists and Quakers dealing with a corrupt world as they wanted it to be, not as it was. They changed it thereby. In Tony Blair's time, the same word is applied to a corruption-based economic model that is causing us serious problems. Not just because the bottom has fallen out of the banking system, but because corruption cannot exist apart from coercion.
No-one of their own free will, puts their savings into a company that lies to them and is patently not going to deliver what it promises. But government can take their money and put it into the dodgy company on their behalf, extremists can set fire to their homes in "protest" at their putting their money into some other company, on whatever revolving pretext presents itself. Banks can hire "advisors" to harry account holders to put their money into schemes: coercion is applied.
Corruption destroys wealth: the dishonest shilling triumphs over the honest pound. For a few individuals to become rich under a corruption-based economic model, everybody else has to become ever poorer, one way or another. If the same individuals became as rich under a probity-based economic model, everybody else might become more prosperous in their wake. Sounds like a fantasy? Well, yes: to one conditioned by currently-accepted thinking, it does. But for three centuries, that was how the British economy did work. There were ups and downs, but the economic trend was upwards, the social trend was towards improvement -and the political trend was towards ever greater freedom, and ever more accountability. If the civil war era had been a nadir, where something had to start getting better, the centuries afterwards were a slow climb up from the pit -and probity supplied guidance when the way towards "better" could not be defined any other way.
The ultimate expression of the corruption-based economic model and the coercion-based social model, is chiseled onto the many faces of the "Georgia Guidestones" and runs throughout the genocidal dogmas of the animal rights movement. That is, for people to live better, nine-tenths of them have to stop living. Just as for a few Blairite and Putinista Olgliarchs to become and remain billionaires, millions must be sold into mortgage slavery in a price bubble and literally billions in developing countries must be betrayed to a worse fate still.
Communism is just as much a corruption-based economic model as Blairite/Brownite Capitalism; indeed, it's hard to define a difference between the two. There is no rescue for us there, and the green extremists will save us by killing of nine out of ten of us, to make more space for rats and locusts. (No, don't try to imagine, just look: at Zimbabwe. Mugabe said, years ago, that he had been advised to reduce the population!)
The situation in the world today is dire. But it is no worse, and perhaps a bit better, than in England after a Civil War that transferred power without responsibility from the King, to a Parliament that then suffered no meaningful elections or accountability.
We can start making progress upwards again. We can fix the system. But we cannot consign poverty to the same unconsecrated grave as slavery, unless we slay corruption and its partner, coercion.
We must be intolerant of corruption, but that means we must stamp out bullying, whether by individuals, gangs or institutions. We cannot put up with an ever-tightening noose of state control, not because it simply makes us less free, but because it makes us poor -and that means that some of us are squeezed out of life altogether.
We cannot make a stand against corruption and do nothing about bullying, intimidation, gang-stalking and the spread of official coercion into even banal areas of public policy, because these evils are the same thing, just as reason and justice are, at one primal moment, the same particle.
Probity and freedom are the same thing, too. The greatest and most effective lie of all the lies that have driven this generation astray, is that probity is somehow a restriction, a fuddy-duddy lack of freedom. The truth it that without probity, nobody is free, in business or anywhere else. Freedom is the freedom to follow our most basic survival instinct: to test whether things are good or bad by applying reason to them. Corruption and coercion means that we do things for reasons other than that they are best. It is inevitable that corruption and coercion will make us do the wrong thing, therefore.
So, we mustn't be deflected by those who say that this global problem, or another, is so dire and serious that reason and persuasion must be laid aside, in favour of coercion. The more important the matter is, the more dangerous coercion becomes, because it is a guarantee of society doing the wrong thing.
The small Avro airliner in the photograph is a very direct descendant of the one visible in the background to all the photographs of Neville Chamberlain waving his bit of paper and proclaiming that there would be "peace in our time". This is known as "appeasement" to those of the generation that fought the inevitable subsequent world war, but even they forget that Chamberlain didn't only appease Hitler and the Nazis, because Hitler was in alliance with Joseph Stalin at the time -and he enjoyed considerable support in the United States of America from the likes of Henry Ford and many (but not all) members of the Kennedy Clan. Chamberlain wasn't just appeasing Hitler, he was trying to appease the collected forces of corruption and coercion as they appeared in the world at the time. Within a year, he had to fight anyway, within three, the United States had to fight against something which so many of its most powerful citizens actually supported.
Tonight, Medawar learns that "European Leaders," including Tony Blair, who, incidently, holds no elected post or constitutional position in any country, want to build a new global order out of the current economic crisis, which they did so much to create. This will be a global order of the corruption-based economic model and its attendant coercive social model. We will fight this because we have no choice: there is no route to human survival if we do not.