Malice in Wonderland

Jan 12, 2017·Alasdair Macleod

Malice in Wonderland

Recently, I was quietly reading in my armchair, eyes closing and trying to stay awake, and the next moment I was falling down a rabbit hole. After falling into the void, I found myself outside a castle, which can only be described as very Gothic in the darkest sense. A door opened in the castle wall, and I was beckoned in by a tall dark-haired man, who was wearing a long black cloak.

He said he was a representative for ME Phistopheles & Co, a firm located in multiple underground locations. The CEO is known as Old Nick to its many residents. In one of his guises, Nick was a citizen of Florence many years ago and had a great old time with his friend Cesare, whose father was the Borgia Pope, Alexander VI. Old Nick wrote a manual for politicians, which he called The Prince, in honour of Cesare. Cesare’s sister, Lucretia, was rumoured to have sent a few souls Old Nick’s way as well.

All this I learned from this stranger. He introduced himself as Vlad D Racula, - the Raculas originated from Transylvania – and he has been acting for Old Nick and his firm for a very long time. I felt lucky to be able to ask Vlad the questions that follow, because I am naturally curious.

AM Tell me Vlad, is ME Phistopheles & Co worried about its image, given the negative stories in the earthly media?

Vlad M E Phistopheles & Co has always been misrepresented in the earthly media. You may remember Dante, who slandered us with “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”. This was all made up! He never saw the place. When he died, we turned him down and sent him to the other place. Poor man. No women, no wine, no fun at all, and for all eternity! And he is not the only one we’ve turned down. We normally take the interesting people who want a good time. Do you know we have fourteen popes with us? They are a wild bunch – it’s all that celibacy, well for two of them it was and we think they lied about that.

AM Perhaps you could tell me what is the business objective of M E Phistopheles & Co?

Vlad We harvest souls in a sustainable way. We always like to have a good supply, so that we can pick and choose the ones we want. They must have displayed at least four of the seven deadly sins, excluding Gluttony for which we have no use. The rest we send off to Heaven. Those of you still briefly on terra firma will join one firm or the other when the time comes. We like to manage that process.

AM Well that’s very interesting, but is this relevant to my interests, economics and finance?

Vlad As you may know, old Nick sees things differently from earthly people. His great rival from the other place has conspired to control earthly governments. For this reason, every President of the US promotes his Christian credentials. The government in England serves a queen, who is also head of the Anglican Church. We regard them as agents for the competition. Getting to the nub of your question, Nick has an interest in the way earthly economics has developed, which will turn out very badly for the amateur politicians of today. Totally incompetent compared with Cesare. But I must say, Donald Trump shows some early promise.

AM Interesting comment about Trump. Did Old Nick have anything to do with rigging the election? We’re told it was the Russians.

Vlad Poppycock! The CIA are amateurs at our dissembling game. No, neither we nor my Russian namesake had anything to do with it. We simply gave The Donald a draft of Nick’s follow-up to The Prince, which has a working title, “How to Win Friends and Influence People in a Democracy”. Turns out he’s a natural, and we hope to welcome him into the firm in due course. He won it fair and square.

AM OK. I get that bit, but is Trump so clever when it comes to finance and economics?

Vlad No. He’s a businessman. We can trip him up by pushing prices up, so his plans will fall apart. We are already doing it. You watch how valueless the dollar will become. He won’t be able to buy anything. America won’t be great without a currency. This is central to our next mayhem policy and we might reward him for his role in this.

AM So all this is planned by your firm. Can Old Nick really control earthly events in this way? Was Goethe right with his story of Faust’s pact with Mephistopheles? By the way, I notice the similarity in names…..

Vlad I couldn’t possibly comment, beyond saying in the early days we encouraged hopeless beliefs in alchemy, the transmutation of base metal into gold. When that failed, people turned to issuing fake gold by debasing coinage, and we eventually encouraged the fraudulent use of paper receipts as gold substitutes, and things just evolved from there.

AM We have seen how these gold substitutes have evolved into unbacked fiat currencies, from which the fraudulent issue of gold substitutes was the eventual result. How do you intend to use this to gather souls?

Vlad Nick is very thorough. He consulted with Charlie Darwin, who is enjoying a very happy time with us (he’s hopelessly alcoholic now, but he has no liver, so it doesn’t matter). He introduced, as a laboratory experiment, a dummy run. Have you heard of colony collapse disorder? Charlie was trying it out on bees, to see what reaction he gets. He wanted to put together a scientific paper on the destruction of key elements in a society.

AM I don’t see the relevance.

Vlad It’s simple. A few years ago, the UK government allocated money for the research and protection of bees. The money was obviously wasted and bee colonies continued to collapse. Every earthly person wanted the bees to live. Nick wanted to see how much money the God-fearing Gordon Brown was prepared to waste on a hopeless task. Unfortunately, he was sacked, so Charlie Darwin had to abandon that project early. But he got enough evidence to produce his latest thesis, which is on the destruction of civilisation through accelerated evolution.

AM So that was a dummy run for the next financial crisis?

Vlad Yes. We don’t do plagues any more, but we’ve been tinkering with money, or rather paper and digital representations of it instead. Amazingly, very few earthly beings understand what scope it gives us.

Was your firm behind the world’s financial collapse in 2008?

Vlad No. People were behind that financial collapse, and they are continuing to screw things up, because no one wants to understand the error of selling souls for debt. We just gave them a push in the right direction, with Greed and Avarice. Nick didn’t even have to encourage them into debt. Borrowing is so advanced people are now borrowing time itself. The relevance of the bee experiment was to see when and whether ex-Father Murphy’s services will be needed.


Vlad He is head of Old Nick’s Surprise Developments Department, which specialises in unintended consequences. Murphy finds his life increasingly busy, but he is monitoring the position closely.

You said people are now borrowing time itself. What did you mean by that?

Vlad That happens when you sell your soul for debt. We get your soul, and your creditor gets the experience.

AM I see. So how do you and Nick see things developing from here?

Vlad Our plan was always to ruin the fiat currencies. The whole caboodle will collapse. So far, Murphy has only had to give things a little nudge from time to time. Its giving him great pleasure playing with the Italian banks by the way. The Vatican always sneered at him for being Irish, and his revenge is very, sweet and very personal to him.

AM So how bad will the Italian banking losses be?

Vlad Total. Draghi will throw money at them, but to no avail. By the way, the clue is in his name, which means dragon. He’s ultimately on our side. Father Murphy will swamp the ECB with unintended consequences, and Draghi will have pride of place down here when his time comes.

AM I thought Draghi was just doing his best to keep bankruptcies at bay.

Vlad Look at it like this. Earthly life is like a mountain; you go up one side and come down the other. A very big mountain is a long way up, and then a long way down. As you go up the financial mountain, you move from Sloth through Envy of others making money, to Greed when you do it for yourself. You then briefly have Pride at your success. And while you have Pride, you probably let go with Lust, Envy and Gluttony. We then take it all away. M E Phistopheles & Co have an interest in making the mountain bigger, so to speak, because the firm benefits from provoking the deadly sins as much as possible

AM Your parable about the mountain: was M E Phistopheles & Co behind the 1929 Wall Street Crash as well?

Vlad Of course! That was a relatively minor affair, but quite productive none the less. This one promises to be on a far larger scale.

AM Worse than the thirties depression?

Vlad We’re hoping to repeat the South Sea and Mississippi Bubbles. Ah, those were the days. John Law – he’s with us now, lovely man – did a wonderful trick against the God-fearing French. He got a monopoly on printing paper money you know, and ramped up worthless Mississippi Company shares from nearly nothing to 18,000 livres, before it all collapsed. We captured the souls of all the French aristocracy. He was well ahead of his time. Keynes is with us now as well. More sophisticated than Johnny Law, but similar ideas and central to mayhem. Time to do it again.

Apart from tempting people into debt, we have not had to do much, as I have already told you. And God’s politicians on Earth, with Murphy’s help, are making all the mistakes imaginable, making things far worse than they need be. You will have noticed that their actions have turned them into evil fascists. It is entertaining us all down here.

AM But doesn’t quantitative easing interfere with your plan, because new money is replacing debt?

Vlad Just think of the destruction of wealth from unlimited money-printing. Law and Keynes are advising us with an instruction from Old Nick himself to make the Mississippi collapse in 1721 look like a picnic. He plans to wipe out paper money again, to enhance our mineral interests. Our domain is beneath the surface of the earth from where all the resources emanate.

We have ways at M E Phistopheles & Co of controlling all true money, by which we mean gold. We have secret mines managed by Albrecht Niebelung. He employs the border-line Christians. If they show signs of avarice, we keep them. If not we send them to the other place.

AM This is horrible. How long will we all be in despair? And what are the political consequences?

Vlad Earthly folk will despair for a very long time. Every action becomes a mistake – Father Murphy will ensure that nothing goes right. M E Phistopheles & Co believes earthly people must despair, because it highlights the attractions of the deadly sins. As to the political consequences, I am not authorised to comment, that aspect of our plan is secret, and it is time you left anyway.

AM Well, I suppose I should thank you for this insight. I must say I would like to meet some of your long-term residents another time. They sound so interesting.

Vlad You will, if you remember we want at least four deadly sins, excluding gluttony.

At this point I was motioned towards the castle door. I heard in the distance a dog barking, barking that got louder as I left this dreamy underworld. It was my dog, wanting to be fed. It dawned on me as I awoke that meeting with Vlad had been just a very peculiar dream. All rubbish, of course, but the bit about Father Murphy and unintended consequences keeps sticking in my mind.

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