My home country has a great documentaries’ tradition, the non-fiction of the big and small screen. So that a Dutch documentary receives a prize at a film festival (this time at St. Tropez) is not uncommon. Hadn’t seen it, but its subject matter aroused my curiosity: how did the financial crisis come about and where are we now. The title: Who is to blame?
I wasn’t disappointed. For the same reason that a US regime insider like David Rothkopf criticizing the system is just so much more powerful than any Occupy voice could ever be, listening to stalwarts of the Dutch establishment like Herman “the best prime minister whom The Netherlands never had” Wijffels and Kees “board member of The Court of Audit” Vendrik talk about the Dutch banking sector, the lack of regulatory control, and the nature of money is more persuasive than any outside system challenger.
Stupefying really, what else to say? Two elements stand out for me, not particularly in this documentary, but more generally, from what I have read about the crisis:
- The question what is money, we still seem to have huge debates about it. I know that some with a valid educational claim to expertise would seriously object to the equation Money = Debt; fascinating subject, and of all possible reads David Graeber‘s Debt stands out and is heartily recommended.
- The question of blame is another theme, that is often centre stage when the crisis is being debated. I prefer the system perspective, individual people (and interest-based groups of them) are often malevolent idiots, and make for satisfying blame narratives, but ultimately, the systemic flaws make for more convincing tales (to the likes of mine). The human inability to deal with risk perspective, as so poignantly described by Nassim Taleb, and the anthropological approach taken by Joris Luyendijk (I’m eagerly awaiting his book on the financial world), are the two systemic lenses that I find most revealing.
After which it is time for some appropriate musical diversion. We wouldn’t want to leave you with a taste of desperation, would we?