I have another piece at Comment is Free this morning. This one looks at the financial crisis in terms of the huge discrepancy between consumption and production that has become the norm over the last decade of so.
Although Sir Simon Jenkins can be bloody irritating at times, he can claim to one of the few polymaths of our time; remarkable given that his principal trade as been that of a newspaperman.
Despite our having obvious and deep political differences, I am happy to admit that he is probably the finest columnist at work in the English language today, and I offer this sublime piece of writing from today's Guardian as evidence.
Former Labour leadership contender Bryan Gould - one of the few successful politicians of recent times whom, having experienced the sham of national politics first hand, threw it in and returned to his original career - has this very good piece on the inevitability of the current crisis and the naivety/stupidity of those, like Alan Greenspan, who apparently never saw it coming.
As Gould says,
This is a crisis that has been thirty years in the making. Its
approaching outline has been visible for a very long time. Only those
who did not want to see (and that includes almost all the so-called
expert commentators and actors in the drama) could have failed to
register the warning signs.
It really is as much a question of psychology as economics.
I didn't really enjoy this film, indeed if it hadn't been based on a true story, I would have thought it rather a poor effort despite good performances from Julianne Moore and, particularly, Stephen Dillane, as well as some excellent period design.
If it is a true account - and there is some cause for doubt as one of the surviving characters has gone on record as saying several of the more extreme events depicted have no basis in reality - then it's a shocking portrait of the one of the most dysfunctional society families I have come across.
I think the film probably tells us more about the corrupting influence of wealth and privilege than the causes and consequences of family dysfunction. Frustratingly, it says nothing at all about the links between privilege and social pathology.
Phillip French though it good, while Peter Bradshaw called it "gripping, coldly brilliant and tremendously acted movie". For me, it's just about worth seeing. Unusually, for a film depicting dreadful trauma and psychological anguish, it left me feeling weirdly unemotional.
Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. Stephen Smith, who chairs the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust wrote eloquently in yesterday's Guardian about the importance of remembering the Nazi genocide.
Each year the day brings new opportunities to hear from some of those who lost loved ones, and others who managed to survive the extermination camps. But many of the survivors are now nearing the end of their own lives. It is crucial, therefore, that their recollections are preserved and retold for future generations.
One of the reasons I am so committed to the idea of a more just and inclusive world is that the potential to fall into fascism (indeed totalitarianism of any kind) lurks not very far beneath the surface of even the most civilised and superficially democratic of societies.
Its return remains a distinct possibility in an increasingly uncertain world, especially as perceptions (correct or otherwise) of injustice among certain groups continue to grow. This is why it's so important that as many people as possible are encouraged to Imagine, remember, reflect and react, the tagline of this year's commemoration.
If you're much younger than I am, and don't know much about the holocaust, I would recommend you get hold of a copy of Stephen Spielberg's 1998 film, The Last Days. It's not easy to watch - I first saw it at the cinema soon after it's release; as the auditorium emptied many of those present still had tears streaming down their faces - but once you've seen it you'll never forget why it's important to remember.