Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Purpose of Turbulence

In an heroic (or perhaps quixotic) gesture, Gordon Brown has decided to fight turbulence. See my comment on the Leadership and Change blog.

Here on the POSIWID blog I wanted to discuss a related question: Who benefits from turbulence?

In economic markets, some people undoubtedly benefit from turbulence. The value of certain financial instruments (such as traded options) increases as volatility increases, so there are obvious winners as well as losers.

Historically, turbulence is often blamed upon priests. (As in "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?" I found a "very British" blogger who seemed to regret that Archbishop Rowan Williams wouldn't be receiving the same treatment as Thomas Becket.) Here are some more examples thrown up by Google Books:
"[in Ireland] the influence of the priesthood over the peasantry seems to be available for every purpose of turbulence, and none of sobriety, humanity, or social tranquility" [from an article on Ecclesiastical Reform in the British and Foreign Review, 1836, p 222]

"Wilfred, bishop of York, a very suspicious character ... seems to have fomented turbulence and contention" [from the History of the Church of Christ by Joseph Milner, 1835, p 422]

In politics and religion, these accusations are generally reserved for the opposite faction. It is not common for people to confess to such an agenda. Curious that.

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