"Had I right, for my own
benefit, to inflict this curse upon everlasting generations? I had before been
moved by the sophisms of the being I had created; I had been struck senseless
by his fiendish threats; but now, for the first time, the wickedness of my
promise burst upon me; I shuddered to think that future ages might curse me as
their pest, whose selfishness had not hesitated to buy its own peace at the
price, perhaps, of the existence of the whole human race."
– The musings of Dr. Frankenstein
about his creation of a monster, in Mary Shelley's 1818 novel, Frankenstein
And later the monster answers:
"Shall each man," cried he,
"find a wife for his bosom, and each beast have his mate, and I be alone? I had
feelings of affection, and they were requited by detestation and scorn. Man!
You may hate, but beware! Your hours will pass in dread and misery, and soon
the bolt will fall which must ravish from you your happiness forever. Are you
to be happy while I grovel in the intensity of my wretchedness? You can blast
my other passions, but revenge remains – revenge, henceforth dearer than
light or food! I may die, but first you, my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse
the sun that gazes on your misery. Beware, for I am fearless and therefore
powerful. I will watch with the wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its
venom. Man, you shall repent of the injuries you inflict."
In the classic novel by Mary
Shelley (written when she was just 19!), she writes about a young doctor (the
Frankenstein of the title) who defies nature and creates an ungainly monster,
piecing together parts that were not designed to fit each other. Even though he
gives the creature life, it eventually turns on him and his family. The unhappy
monster, which develops into quite the rationalizing being, demands that Dr.
Frankenstein create a female version of himself so they can flee civilization
and find happiness. When Dr. Frankenstein decides not to follow through on his
initial promise to do so (thus the first quote), the monster seeks revenge. It
does not end happily.
The European Monetary Union was
a triumph of hope over reason, pieced together from very dissimilar countries
which, while sharing common borders, have very different cultures and
economies. That it would eventually face an existential crisis was foretold by
numerous critics at the time of its creation. The euro has never been a real
currency. It was and still is an experiment, fashioned and shaped by a
generation with noble ideas and vision, but tied together by an unworkable
structure. Can its foundation be reworked into a solid structure? Or will natural
centrifugal forces pull it apart? The difficulties that are faced are somewhat
akin to fixing the engine of a jet plane while it is flying at 30,000 feet.
In today's letter we explore the
options that the eurozone faces in order to stay together, and what it all means
for some of the countries involved. While I have written for a very long time
about the probability of Greece exiting the eurozone, the actuality is fraught
with risk, not just for Europe but for the world economy. What happens in the
next few months will impact us all for a very long time. Indeed, this is one of
those years, as Lenin noted, when decades happen. There is a lot to cover, and
in future weeks we will go into more detail, but today let's just step back and
see if we can get the larger picture.