Sunday, 5 December 2010

All things must end....

The last great European union - that of the Catholic Church - collapsed under the weight of its own arrogance and corruption. Between the selling of tickets to paradise and the operation of a secular empire in central Italy, the church lost much of its purpose. We should not be surprised by the fact that the pope who caused such bother to Henry VIII was a Medici - essentially a man appointed for his political clout in the interminable wars of the Italian renaissance rather than as an adequate leader of a great union. And that Medici pope succeeded a previous Medici pope - a man not even a priest before his appointment to the Holy See.

For all the good that the Catholic Church achieved in the thousand years from the fall of Rome and the reformation - and there was much - it had served its purpose. The idea of a Europe unified under one church did not suit a continent of city states and emerging nations. And the rulers of these places seized on the fragmentation to set out their own paths - adopting protestantism as an opportunity to escape the priests' controls. But the big driver of change wasn't just the power hungry like Henry but a change in the world. People were now more literate. The success of trade had brought about a new, powerful merchant class and it was this class in Germany, England and France who become the vanguard of reform.

Today we look again at an out-of-touch, arrogant, secretive and powerful European elite - fawned over by the courtiers of kings but loathed by those shaking the earth's foundations. The response of this elite - as was the case with the Catholic Church before - is to restrict, to ban, to control, to direct. To make use of their power to subdue legitimate protect, to prevent the propagation of contrary opinion and to suborn merchants, mayors and guildmasters.

I do not know the day this edifice of corrupt power will fall - it is only five decades old, a mere flash in time compared to the rule of the Church. But fall it will. When the people are asked about the choices of the elite they reject them. Votes are characterised by protest, abstention and anger. And the courtiers continue their dance around the elite - unaware that their time has gone. These are the men and women - some well-meaning but mostly self-serving - who stand between us and the day of liberty.


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