A New Year e-message

Published on Rupert’s Read Blog, by blog owner, December 31, 2011.

What a stunning year 2011 has been. Full of hope – and horror. 2012 will see the continuation of the year of revolutions in the Arab world, including probably the fall (most probably, I would guess, the death) of Assad – and I hope that real change will come to our continent, too. For, while we complacently think that we at least live in democracies, the truth is otherwise. 

With the intensification of the financial crisis in Europe, which will I believe probably get much worse in the coming year, and with the coming to power of some ‘technocratic’ (read NOT democratic, tacitly very right-wing, pro-finance) governments, we cannot avoid now facing a defining question: _Are_ the nations of Europe really serious about becoming _democracies_ at all? I say ‘becoming’, because ‘Democracy’, etymologically, involves the people governing: Does anyone seriously believe that the people (rather than ‘the markets’) govern, today, in countries like ours? The financial crisis, and now the Euro-crisis, only make this elephant-in-the-room question all the starker, and a negative answer to it all the more obvious.

The Occupy movement has arisen as a powerful response to this appalling undemocratic inegalitarianism: Europe’s child, in a way, of the Arab Spring.

So: I think it very important that we reject the widespread conservative/elitist failure to consider even for a moment the only way in which this crisis is actually likely to be solved: by a _deepening_ of democracy (rather than by its suspension, as has already pretty much explicitly happened in Greece and Italy). Here, the Occupy movement offers more than just inspiration: it offers an actual model. If our societies were actually allowed to become democratic, they would, I suggest, opt for a viable way out of the crisis, implementing the ideas offered by the likes of Steve Keen, Ann Pettifor, Caroline Lucas, Richard Murphy, and Nicholas Shaxson: a general debt jubilee, capital controls, real nationalisation or remutualisation of the banks, governments regaining control of the creation of money, a sustained assault on tax havens, a real Green New Deal, and so on. Whereas all that the technocrats will have to offer is yet more bailing out of the 1% and endlessly ruthlessly inegalitarian regimes.

So: I think that 2012 will be a crucial year for determining whether we start to live in democracies, or whether we lose even what power and financial resource we currently have.

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