Keen observers of this blog may have noticed my penchant for quoting that Douglas Adams masterpiece, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in reference to real-world events. Today, I will take the time-honoured sentiment that ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ and amend it ever so. Because sometimes, truth is exactly as strange as fiction.
In the Hitchhiker’s Guide, a ship from Golgafrincham – containing an entire useless third of that planet’s population – crash lands on prehistoric Earth. Being composed of morons, the crew adopts the leaf as currency, but as mass availability means that three major deciduous forests purchase one ship’s biscuit, they take steps to combat inflation. Bold, visionary steps, viz: burning down all the forests.
Fast forward to Zimbabwe and today’s news: the paper company on which Robert Mugabe has been printing his ever-rising currency denominations has severed its ties to the government. Which means, in practical terms, that in addition to being worthless – the largest note is $50 billion, with a street value of one American dollar – the money will now be scarce. So scarce, in fact, that within two weeks, printing more will be impossible. Mugabe won’t be able to pay his thugs. In all probability, the country will collapse. And Fidelity Printers, whose principled withdrawal over the recent election has precipitated the crisis, will effectively become the first corporation to deliberately and visibly destroy a government.
It’s almost on par with Morgan Robertson’s 1898 novella Futility, or Wreck of the Titan – published fourteen years prior to the sinking of the Titanic – in which the world’s largest, unsinkable ocean liner hits an iceberg and sinks in the North Atlantic. Seriously.
Which, on many levels, is just plain weird – but arguably no weirder than a beer that costs $150 billion and isn’t brewed from unicorn giggles.
Truth and fiction? Let’s blur dem lines.