Wednesday, January 10, 2007
I posted previously on the sad destruction of the Mirabelle restaurant in Mayfair. It had been colonised by loutish hedgefunders, possessed of money and nothing else. Over at the Movida club, meanwhile, the City bonus slobs buy methusaleh's of Cristal champagne at £24,000 a shot and spray £4,500 jeroboams of the stuff over each other. Table bills go up to £100,000. The wise Frank Wilson, co-founder of the Failed Intellectuals Society, observed of my Mirabelle post that the problem with capitalism is capitalists. I agree. But, hitherto, I have regarded the barbarity of these people as simply an unfortunate necessity, the grim underpinnings of civilisation and culture. They work so I can think. Fair enough. After the Mirabelle, however, I find myself less tolerant. Why can't they do something with their money other than spend it? Anyway - a bit of a leap here, but bear with me - in the FT Christopher Caldwell makes an interesting demographic point about the current violence within the Palestinian territories. Its cause, he argues, is the excessive number of young men. When 15 to 29 year olds make up more than 30 per cent of the population, violence happens. This seems to be true throughout the developing world in which 900 million sons were born between 1988 and 2002. I am sceptical of all attempts to invent laws about human behaviour, but this feels convincing. It becomes even more convincing when you observe the young men in the Mirabelle or at Movida. They don't kill each other, they spray each other with champagne and they trash once decent restaurants. No big bill at Movida has ever been paid by a woman. Civilisation, it seems, rests on a society's abililty to find something stupid, pointless and not too violent for young men to do.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:28 pm