Dalrymple recently spoke at The Iona Institute in Ireland on the subject of the economic crisis there (and throughout the Western world). In keeping with views he has expressed elsewhere, he blames the crisis on a modern outlook that has rendered the cardinal virtues increasingly unpopular:
Thus we see governments viewing or at any rate subconsciously recognising easy credit and asset inflation as a way of courting popularity, a popularity necessary in order that they should retain the power that, as individuals, they craved and which they made the main aim of their lives. If in the process it meant the large scale corruption of the population, so be it. And, for reasons only too obvious to mention, bankers were happy to go along with it.You can read the text of the speech here (hat tip: Ravi).
An avidity for power, then, combined with a deeply materialistic outlook on life, which regarded an increased level of consumption as the summum bonum of human existence, lay behind the crisis, and certainly not only in Ireland. Greed, either for power or easy gain, acted everywhere in our societies.