Dr. John (Ellsworth) Hutchison-Hall

Eastern Orthodox Christian theologian, historian, philosopher, and cultural commentator.


Home » Articles » Barclays and LIBOR – Evil or simply a product of our time?

July 2012 — Dr. John (Ellsworth) Hutchison-Hall

In the latest episode of bankers behaving badly a venerable City institution has copped to using deception to rig the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), and others (on both sides of the pond) are under scrutiny for the same activities.

LIBOR is the benchmark for the rate of interest charged on an enormously vast range of financial products, from corporate debt, to mortgages to credit card and other consumer debt, to transactions between financial institutions themselves.

But are they?

Certainly from a Christian standpoint there’s no question of guilt. Lying, and cheating, and stealing are most definitely big no no’s in our enduring moral code. Alas, we’re constantly reminded that at best we Christians are deluded fools wedded to an out dated world view and moral compass; and at worse are evil, judgemental (fill-in the blank)-phobes. Society has moved-on. The New Model Morality is enlightened. It’s inclusive. It’s non-judgemental. And it certainly no longer needs to take its moral cues from the stone tablets’ “Thou Shalt Not” when it has “Who are we to judge?”

So then, who are we to judge? If each person is their own moral compass and finding fault with those whose actions we disdain is being judgemental (and in a world of no wrongs – being judgemental is the ultimate mortal sin), what’s the big deal? Who are we to judge the actions of the Barclays’ – and undoubtedly other banks’ traders. Why have all the ‘enlightened’ ones got their knickers in a knot? What do you expect from a generation of people who’ve been raised in your new improved, enlightened ethical system? And how exactly did they violate it?

If there is no universal wrong, how can people do wrong? There’s the rub, not only do you want your cake, and to eat it and a second piece as well; you want the baker punished when you gain weight.

The financial world’s code of behaviour was established by deluded fools wedded to that out dated world view and moral compass, who have been made the object of enlightened derision. Remove the foundation and that code of behaviour is as stable as a building without a foundation.

But you know that.

And, I regret to inform you; your soul knows that too, and won’t let you forget it. It is your soul and conscience that are awakening this indignation. Your soul knows when it sees wrong. Your soul knows truth isn’t a relative, subjective set of suggestions. Truth is just that – truth. Right and wrong are just that – right and wrong. And no matter what you may tell yourself, you know your soul is right.

If not, then what’s all the bother about?