World leaders on Thursday heralded the G20 summit as the day the world “fought back against the recession” as they put on a show of unity that lifted global markets and mapped out a new future for financial regulation.
Gordon Brown, host of the summit, said the meeting marked the emergence of a “new world order”, as he unveiled what leaders claimed was a $1,100bn package of measures to tackle the global downturn, including support for lower income countries and a $250bn plan to boost the international money supply.
...France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy, meanwhile, said the summit’s agreement on a new regulatory regime and crackdown on tax havens showed “a page has been turned” on an era of post-war “Anglo Saxon” capitalism.
Note that they claim they are fighting "back against the recession". As I said in a past post, Must Things Get Worse Before They Get Better?:
It's almost as if they believe there is a mystical force shadowing the nations' economy which necessitates recession and malaise and which can not be understood or resisted.That post went on to analyse the ridiculous notion that recessions are somehow "inevitable" and explained what is needed to end it. Of course, from an economic perspective, the plan they have hatched exacerbates the very causes which are responsible for the crisis - easy money, government intervention and regulations leading to moral hazard in the banking system, and the expropriation and redistribution of productive assets to the unproductive.
When I first saw the picture above I believed it had to have been a doctored photo created to mock the absurdity of this meeting. When I realized it was not a joke it dawned on me that it is actually a perfect concretization of what is happening. I think that the frivolous connotation of the photo is the result of several related factors.
Here we have a group of pragmatist politicians that have no understanding of what is causing the economic crisis and would not even think to analyze the causes of the crisis . As I have detailed many times, pragmatism is the philosophy that holds that there are no absolutes and that man must simply act [1, 2, 3]. Since these men are pragmatists, i.e., they hold no firm principles, anything and everything is open to negotiation and compromise. So, on the one hand, their giddiness is related to genuine happiness. To the extent that these men can negotiate, compromise, and simply "act" regardless of the content or likely outcome of that action, they are like pigs in slop - jovially, eagerly executing plans that panels of outside "experts" have advised them will work. Additionally, I believe at some level, these men believe they control reality. I quoted AR in this post [1, 2]:
A later school of more Kantian Pragmatists amended this philosophy as follows. If there is no such thing as an objective reality, men’s metaphysical choice is whether the selfish, dictatorial whims of an individual or the democratic whims of a collective are to shape that plastic goo which the ignorant call “reality,” therefore this school decided that objectivity consists of collective subjectivism—that knowledge is to be gained by means of public polls among special elites of “competent investigators” who can “predict and control” reality—that whatever people wish to be true, is true, whatever people wish to exist, does exist, and anyone who holds any firm convictions of his own is an arbitrary, mystic dogmatist, since reality is indeterminate and people determine its actual nature.[emphasis mine]Consequently, the higher the stakes, the more reality they believe they control. This picture conveys a subconscious emotional response - the unadulterated joy of the power luster - but power not just over other men, power over reality itself.
I believe there is another factor which accounts for the tone of this picture. Quoting Ayn Rand on the nature of emotions:
But since the work of man’s mind is not automatic, his values, like all his premises, are the product either of his thinking or of his evasions: man chooses his values by a conscious process of thought—or accepts them by default, by subconscious associations, on faith, on someone’s authority, by some form of social osmosis or blind imitation. Emotions are produced by man’s premises, held consciously or subconsciously, explicitly or implicitly.Unlike the subconscious emotional response noted above, to experience intense happiness, one would have to hold a conscious conviction which would serve as the base to elicit a positive emotional response. From a moral perspective, the pragmatist is a blank page - he holds no firm principles or convictions. Therefore, overtly, he must be told how to react. In this case, there is no doubt in my mind, that the handlers instructed these men to project a positive image, i.e., to appear to be enthusiastic and happy in order to convey a sense of control and optimism to the world. They were instructed to seem positive despite the fact that the world is in a profound economic crisis that threatens civilization itself and despite the fact that their plan will worsen the crisis. This is in effect a double dose of pragmatism in that the leaders need to be told how to react and the handlers believe that by controlling outsiders' perception of the leaders it will somehow cause a positive reaction in the economy.
To see this even more clearly, imagine someone who is rational but confused about the present economic crisis meaning that they have the capacity to apply logic to observation but they are honestly having difficulty comprehending what is happening and what they should do about it. Woudn't the dire implications of his inability to rationally solve the problem be cause for a profound feeling of frustration and concern? If you were to take a picture of such a person, wouldn't his consternation be obvious?
This picture is a concretization of pragmatism. In a world devoid of reason and principles, where there is no right and wrong, where nothing is sacred and where there is nothing of value - the political leaders of a crumbling world laugh - at themselves and reality. It exposes these men for what they are - inane opportunists, guided by their intellectual masters, who know when to smile and say cheese.