Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.
Display:
No new measures were announced, but Mr Sarkozy insisted that "commitments to reducing the deficit are inviolable and will be maintained".
So what's this, then?

Yet to suppose that President Hoover was engaged only in organizing further reassurance is to do him a serious injustice. He was also conducting one of the oldest, most important - and, unhappily, one of the least understood - rites in American life. This is the rite of the meeting which is called not to do business but to do no business. It is a rite which is still much practised in our time. It is worth examining for a moment.

Men meet together for many reasons in the course of business. They need to instruct or persuade each other. They must agree on a course of action. They find thinking in public more productive or less painful than thinking in private. But there are at least as many reasons for meetings to transact no business. Meetings are held because men seek companionship or, at a minimum, wish to escape the tedium of solitary duties. They yearn for the prestige which accrues to the man who presides over meetings, and this leads them to convoke assemblages over which they can preside. Finally, there is the meeting which is called not because there is business to be done, but because it is necessary to create the impression that business is being done. Such meetings are more than a substitute for action. They are widely regarded as action.

The fact that no business is transacted at a no-business meeting is normally not a serious cause of embarrassment to those attending.

The no-business meetings of the great business executives depend for their illusion of importance on something quite different. Not the exchange of ideas or the spiritual rewards of comradeship, but a solemn sense of assembled power gives significance to this assemblage. Even though nothing of importance is said or done, men of importance cannot meet without the occasion seeming important. Even the commonplace observation of the head of a large corporation is still the statement of the head of a large corporation. What it lacks in content it gains in power from the assets back of it.

[...]

The no-business meetings at the White House were a practical expression of laissez-faire. No positive action resulted. At the same time, they gave a sense of truly impressive action. The conventions governing the no-business session ensured that there would be no embarrassment arising from the absence of business. Those who attended accepted as a measure of the importance of the meetings the importance of the people attending. The newspapers also cooperated in emphasizing the importance of the sessions. Had they done otherwise they would, of course, have undermined the value of the sessions as news.

In recent times the no-business meeting at the White House - attended by governors, industrialists, representatives of business, labor and agriculture - has become an established institution of government. Some device for simulating action, when action is impossible, is indispensable in a sound and functioning democracy. Mr. Hoover in 1929 was a pioneer in this field of public administration.

As the depression deepened, it was said that Mr. Hoover's meetings had been a failure. This, obviously, reflects a very narrow view.

— J.K. Galbraith, The Great Crash, 1929

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Aug 11th, 2011 at 04:09:37 AM EST

Others have rated this comment as follows:

Display:

Occasional Series

24 July 2014
by dvx - Jul 23
59 comments