The Archbishop of Canterbury himself exhorts us to "take seriously the moral agenda of the protesters at St Paul's", but his own response-to advocate a "Tobin tax" on every financial transaction in the City-indicates that neither he nor they are motivated by anything more edifying than envy, or at best a sanctimonious inverted snobbery. For the eponymous American economist James Tobin intended his tax not to raise revenue for redistribution but to penalise speculation in the international currency markets of which he disapproved. No more efficient way of ruining the prosperity of the capital and the country is conceivable.
In this anniversary year of the King James Bible, we do well to go back to the original source of our moral code. Scripture is capable of widely varying interpretations, as Geza Vermes shows in his erudite account of the doctrinal divergence between Judaism and Christianity. But the Bible is also an essential common denominator of Western culture, as Pope Benedict XVI regularly reminds us. In his speech to the German Parliament in September, the Pope eschewed any specifically Christian text, instead citing the case of Solomon, who asked God for a "listening heart" in order to distinguish good and evil. For Benedict, an evil regime such as the Nazi one can and must be resisted; having grown up in the Third Reich, he knows what he is talking about.
Living as we do under the rule of law, however, it is profoundly irresponsible for priests, rabbis or imams to make excuses for breaking the law. They appease and flatter those who disguise their hatred of Western civilisation under the banner of "protest". Such protesters defy private property rights, monopolise public spaces and prefer street politics to the ballot box. Those who live under tyrants are entitled to use "people power" to overthrow them, but those who claim the right to do so in a democracy are the enemies of liberty. The moneychangers of Wall Street and the City of London may be despised, but they too have rights. Above all, we should beware of tax collectors posing as prelates.