Thursday, 2 April 2009

Whatever next, for us all?

Change, whatever happens

It is now some seven full weeks since the last item on Conductive World to deal primarily with economics. What’s changed? Nothing 'real' of course, and that is precisely why economics are no longer 'news' and no longer a general matter of remark. Indeed they are now a central and expected part of all our lives.

That does not of course mean that the basic situation has changed, just that say that, day by day, week by week, we simply hear more and more of the same. Over those seven weeks we have seen, among other things:

  • the once unthinkable humbling of the automobile industry, including the US Big Three and even SAAB;
  • yet more banks and economic institutions failing, so that even our 'leaders’ admit that the whole financial system needs reordering (something that most people have neen aware of for some time now!);
  • even the status of the US dollar as a reserve currency coming seriously under question;
  • whole countries sliding towards the brink;
  • a whole region tottering, the former satellite countries of Central/Eastern Europe begging the rest of the EU for a mega-bail out, and being told to forget it.


Meanwhile, I read, the world strongest currency is the Norwegian Krone.

But now we have had G20 ...?

Things have become so bad that the politicians have admitted it. Well, sort of.

In London, people have been playing their allotted roles ‘on the world stage’:

  • protesters protest;
  • demonstrators demonstrate;
  • rioters riot;
  • the police arrest people;
  • the suits posture and pretend that they know what they are talking about and what to do, all the time playing to the galleries back home;
  • so far, however, the terrorists have not terrorised.

As for the rest of us, our role is to get on with our lives and do the best that we can in ever more difficult circumstances, as we confront a very difficult and presently unanswerable question.

The big question: recession or not?

What is going on here with the world that we have known. Here are two polar explanations.

  1. ‘Recession', ‘credit crunch’ and best of all perhaps ‘economic downturn’: these expressions denote events, unpleasant ones but we have had recession before, they ended and we got over it. The economic downturn, according to this analysis, will be followed by ‘recovery‘. The wicked bankers will have had their come-uppance and everything will be back to normal. It’s just a question of how long his will take, current public wisdom being ‘a little longer than had been anticipated’ ,with the UK being one of the slowest countries ‘to come out of it'. It won’t be all over by Christmas, not this year anyway, but may well be celebrating the 'green shoots of recovery' by Christmas 2010. The biggest problem is just getting by till then.
  2. This is not a recession at all, not an event but part of a process, a ‘turning point in history’ in which the whole world order settles down permanently into something quite new. Inevitably, along with pervasive and persisting economic change will bring in changes in institutions, politics and ideologies. This might not be at all easy. In fact, it could be rather hard, maybe even horrid.
  3. We may of course find ourselves in some mix of the two, depending upon who we are and here e might be.

And what about G20? Surely it will 'work' and pull the world out of its downturn. At this point, who can know? Certainly not the various 'statesmen' who horse-traded and compromised within the narrow limits of their discretion in London this week. Let us hope that their deal will achieve all that it is supposed to. But let us also not forget that even if it works one-humdred percent, damage has been done that may never be mended (to savings, for example) and the whole fix will still have to be paid for, somehow, by someone. By us for example. Nothing can ever be the same again.

The Little World of Conductive Education

What about the CE microcosm? Where does Conductive Education figure in these two scenarios (or some mix of the two)? It must fit in somewhere because there seems little alternative context in which to picture CE’s future:

  • either recovery will come, perhaps later rather than sooner, with the chief task in the meantime being to hold on tight until we can take up where we were when so rudely interrupted by events outside;
  • or CE has to face a quite new future, with new institutions, new financial relationships, new alliances, new theatres of operation, new models of practice, a new literature, new leaders, and new followers…
  • or, of course, some untidy mixture, according to who you are and where you find yourself.

Will anything ever really be the same again?


  1. For a thoroughly jaundiced view of the whole G20 malarkey, Simon Heffer takes some beating. If you've a taste for that sort of thing.

  2. Nice one,Normsn, thanks.

    Terrible that the world is in such a state that one has find a little innocent fun in the parlous wreckage of the Daily Telegraph.

    I am pleased to pass on your recommendation to others.