Liberation or Protectionism

Also published on Dissident Voice and Democracy Chronicles

The Western world has slowly been forced to realize that the old cornerstones of society are no longer a given. Liberal market economy, representative democracy and the shift of influence away from citizens up to a global and unreachable level makes for a drop in confidence.

The new political currents have led the rulers of the West to react with alarm. Finally, there has begun to be an understanding that the left-right-scale no longer applies. It has been replaced by a people-elite scale or a close-large scale. But instead the debate is dominated by the fear of populism. News reporters and political analysts now travel across Europe in droves, from election to election, country to country, in pursuit of a single election result that may indicate a break in the trend and a return to the old ways.

In fear of the new politically radical currents, whether they have traces of right, left, liberal, green or anarchy, what is perhaps the West’s greatest cause for pride, the tolerance of minorities, has been curtailed. Radical political ideas are under constant attack from a middle layer of politicians and the powers that be.
People’s longing for something new remains.

This was already noticeable 5-6 years ago with the North African uprising, the protest movements around the Mediterranean Sea and the Occupy Movement and the “1% of the population ruling over 99%”. The two western political “people’s outrages”, Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as president, are thus a natural consequence of years of a growing fatigue in the political status quo in favor of the more popular and cohesive.

In Spain, a referendum on independence is due in September. In Scotland, a new application for one has been submitted and in California, signatures are being collected to create a referendum on independence. In Europe, there is a growing dissatisfaction with the EU as a sphere of power. In all these examples, calls are made for independence, nationalism and/or regional rule. But the trends are rarely discussed in the same debate. Self-government in the form of a protectionist nation state seems to be something completely different from a struggle for independence, even though there is merely a difference of degree in the aspiration for self-rule and control.

It is a longing for liberation from the big and incomprehensible beyond human contact that is the motivating common denominator. In a smaller context, this can be noticed when social services such as schools, healthcare or different types of service facilities are concentrated into central municipalities in the name of efficiency and economics. Or when jobs disappear or are moved elsewhere and people are forced to break up from their loved ones and their neighborhood culture. A development that few politicians want to touch and which is beyond people’s influence.

The western growth machine creates communities with millions of “non-people”, unemployed youth or senior citizens who lack social significance. At the same time, a clique of financially well-off’s just grows stronger. Solutions seem to be lacking within the current political and social western framework.

The longing for a real society; for justice and community, seems impossible to stop in these times of break-ups, individualization and lack of human dignity.

The new perception of in what direction society is heading, has created new alliances of political movements as, for example, the European DIEM25 which works for a democratized and transparent EU. DIEM25 and the new French President Emmanuel Macron, as well as the radical American Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, reflect rather well the current state of affairs, both in Europe and the US; either new radical political currents beyond the classical political choices, or, as in the case of Macron, a longing to move away from the old at the same time as there is a wish to be anchored in the old. A political three-way-forecast à la 2017. But the biggest political change is not about who is elected but rather about the distrust of the eligible. Both Macron and Donald Trump are both politically skilled businessmen who have perceived a new radical need for change, unlike the classic politicians and their eternal promises of change which are no longer considered credible. The political change from left versus right to small scale versus large scale, regardless of which political icon that represents it, was completely unthinkable just 3-4 years ago.

The direction of regionalization and “the small-scale” causes fears; both among those who are afraid of an increasing intolerance to minorities as well as among liberal market forces and globalists. Those who want to restore participation, proximity and popularity see liberation.

Is it then possible to regionalize our societies without losing a tolerance for others? The answer should be obvious. Intolerance is not created by diversity; it is created by economic injustice and the lack of influence, involvement, belonging, respect plus the absence of a sense of community. People who are satisfied and feel visible do not look for someone to blame.

Was the decision to close down the Greek banks illegal?

Also published in ETC (Swedish newspaper)

The European central bank (ECB) refuses to publish the legal opinions that enabled ECB to shut down the Greek banks 2015.  The hush-hush surrounding the ECB and the Euro group and the blackmailing of the Greek people is obviously a process that would not pass an open examination. The citizens of Europe are given even more reasons for questioning the current democracy and their politicians.

In June 2015 ECB ended emergency lending to Greece's banks after the Greek government announced a coming poll regarding the conditions for another loan. The Greek people voted no to the conditions as it would have prolonged the depression. The Greek government did however submit to the conditions and to surrender to the power of ECB and the EU-politicians. The finance minister Yanis Varoufakis resigned. His reason was that the government had won the election by promising a decent agreement with ECB but that was never achieved. The Prime Minister Tsipras and the left party Syriza humored the banks and EU-politicians.

2015 the democracy movement DIEM25 was presented with Yanis Varoufakis as a co-founder and with the motto: “The EU will either be democratized or it will disintegrate”. DIEM25 is looking for a political diversity e.g. green, radical left or liberal but not for an EU-exit. Rather they wish to “repair EU”. Since the introduction DIEM25 has grown to 25 000 members in more than 56 countries.

As part of DIEM25’s vision of a more transparent Europe Varoufakis and the French radical left leader Benoit Hamon started a campaign in February 2016 in order to urge ECB to publish the legal opinions that the closure of Greece’s banks were based on.

By the time of the closure of the banks ECB conducted a private legal firm that formulated the legal opinion also called the “Greekfiles”. Greece was informed of the closure by the Eurogroup, a group of finance ministers from the Eurozone-members.  DIEM25’s opinion is that ECB is following a political agenda and is not acting as an independent central bank. Also, the Eurogroup is acting outside a juridical protocol and do not document there meetings. On the contrary, everything must be kept secret.

In July 2016 Mario Draghi, the ECB:s president was asked to open up the Greekfiles but refused. He referred to juridical  circumstances that has been questioned from a juridical point of view as well.

Not only do DIEM25 envision democracy and transparency. As the only Swedish official active member as part of the Validating council I can testify that this culture is also something that exists “inside” DIEM25 as far as I’ve experienced. There is a vivid dedication to create a new kind of democracy. In DIEM25 you’ll find an inspired Europeans independent from national borders as well as economical frameworks.

The Swedish opinion is moving towards a Swexit. Despite a new political landscape and a stream of   new political opinions nobody seem to be willing to move away from their political comfort zone and really act upon the lack of democracy signed by all our political parties in the middle of the epicenter of Europe. Political circumstances that citizen’s notice and make conclusions from.

DIEM25S’s request for publishing the Greekfiles is a concrete example of how not to obey before the “euroconcensus”. DIEM25 aims straight for the core-issues; the lack of transparency and democracy.

In times of re-actions this is much needed Action.

The social body and the threatening infection

It is a common view that 2017 is a politically unpredictable year and unpredictability is anything but what our Western society wants.

On the wish list are: Stable economic growth; political stability; a reliable government; a steady cycle of work and consumption and, not least, a reliable information system - a news media which reflects and analyzes what is happening as the "voice of society". All of these are interdependent in the “social body".

Many scoff at this kind of holistic approach. They believe that, on the contrary, society is made up of different stakeholders such as rival companies, the news media and a variety of political currents, preferring to stress that it is these differences that have created our eminent society and provided its diversity, dynamism and vitality.

Nevertheless, everything is dependent on a common system of norms. Without its common standards, the social body would quickly disintegrate. Principles and ideals such as representative democracy, liberalism, capitalism, competition, individualism, hierarchical arrangements, materialism, the human being seen as primarily an economic creature, and so on are ways of thinking that we never question but take for granted. Why would we not? Every conceivable alternative would be worse anyway, isn’t that right? For most people the machinery is, in short, just "our civilization". Everything west of the United States and east of the EU is generally seen as less civilized.

One might think that it would be the most learned, the most successful people who had the ability to look further and avoid this sectarian, societal self-image. But much of what happens is the opposite of that: The most successful and prominent people are those who have dug deepest into the current system. They are the ones who have been most richly awarded in our society by being the most diligent in following standards and adapting to them. They will not betray "their law". No, it is not intellectualism and in-depth knowledge that give people wider perspectives. On the contrary, it’s the ability to deprogram from the existing order which provides that liberating sense of clarity and insight. But the most profound insights are often left unacknowledged because they rarely serve the governing system. This applies in all social orders of the world and for all its dissidents.

Brexit, the US presidential election and the inauguration day have unveiled and exposed the social body for those who might have believed that society consisted solely of independent competing forces. Throughout the Western world, a wave of condemnation is currently emanating from the influential people in society towards all those who don't support the status quo, whether it's to do with Hillary Clinton, the European Union or trade agreements. Suddenly liberal, conservative and socialist seem to have merged into one and the same political force. Throughout the entire Western world, news media convey similar analyzes and the same conclusions. Banks in France unanimously refuse to lend money to the "wrong" presidential candidate and their campaign. The social body that never was now emerges into its complete form. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump both attacked the prevailing system. One had more success than the other but in both cases their rhetoric was grounded in the only currency that ultimately counts; people. Real people who think, feel and make definite choices. And more and more people seem to be veering away from society’s accepted standards.

A rot is spreading rapidly in the West.

The social body is infected, it has a fever and is feeling desperately ill. Millions of people are increasingly rejecting their own civilization. The Western social body's defense system has no remedy against this epic threat; it trembles and cringes in pain, anger and fear. Its mouth - our old media - sometimes judges, sometimes threatens the citizens to quickly return to the “right thoughts”, because everything is a misunderstanding. Mostly it’s Fake news, the Russians are to blame or Nazis are hiding around the next street corner. During the Christmas holidays Barack Obama signed the ”National Defense Authorization Act” (NDAA), thus also legalizing the “Global Engagement Center”, the propaganda center that will fight ”false information” as well as allow non-governmental organizations the right to gather information and contribute towards counteracting false information about the US and its allies; the new Riders who will carry forward the "good" eye of Sauron. The rot must be combated; Western ideals must prevail.

Society’s foundation and source of energy is the citizens themselves and when only a quarter of the US population support the old ideals and, furthermore, lose or when the European population reject the EU, the bedrock of Western culture has eroded significantly.

The Panama documents revealed economic crime and corruption endorsed by Prime ministers and thousands of economic stake holders. The societal body is already full of rot and on the ropes; everyone knows that. It is in a state of denial, like an old dictator who, before his fall, threatens with even more control, censorship and external menaces.

All the while, people look around and let the old decompose.

Are we doomed or do we hear the sound of new activists marching?

Partly published in Adbusters Magazine 129

In countries without any form of democracy the walls are visible and let the citizens know they are trapped. The walls in this world are towering everywhere, which makes them so difficult to discern. Most people still have jobs to go to. We have the "free" news media. We have our democratic elections and our supermarkets are well stocked. Everything seems to be normal and yet something is wrong. The new alloy of power: our banks, corporations, state authorities, media etc rules from an untouchable globalized layer of power. A new world culture settles like a light snowfall. Quiet and peaceful, it stealthily fills our everyday lives. A blanket named globalization and human disconnection is thrown on us. A death by suffocating seems to be the only path ahead for our souls.

This monumental and invisible culture shift is a fact but at the same time there seem to be a major change in people's consciousness going on. A new kind of activist has multiplied. But before discussing the new activist let's have a general look at the development of resistance.

It's a documented fact that the number of protests and demonstrations increases year after year, not only in North America and Europe but all over the globe. There seem to be a global turmoil that nobody dares or manage to explain. On the establishment's defense-radar the number of new echoes,  the populist blips has grown. They reveal a breach of contract between the people and the system. The "enemies" are now inside the gates. They're in the parliaments and maybe in the White house. But are fascists the kind of resistance that we've been waiting for?  No, but what’s interesting is people's mistrust and a growing feeling of "I have had enough" which necessarily don't have to be mixed with how it's manifested.

We live in a circular flow of labor and consumption that is invented and driven by capitalists, upheld and protected by politicians, normalized by the news media, energized by the masses that are supervised and controlled by state-authorities. Masses are running for consumption when they in fact are the ones being consumed. Can we expect a general mistrust being expressed in terms of political philosophy rather than a burned car? People are fucked up by a system that's getting more and more uniformed, distanced and less caring. They're looking for revenge and someone to accuse for their miserable struggle for money, respect and dignity in this western soap-opera.

But the growing resistance is also coming from what I call the new activist.

The new activist has stopped dreaming the impossible dreams. The old activist, the old revolutionary chooses between individualism OR collectivism while the new one can see the spirit of free will and individual expression grow together with solidarity in a society not based on fear and competition. The old revolutionary gladly accept politics that bunch infants together in day care centers clearing the way for adults and their careers in the treadmill. They ignore the social engineering of defenseless babies, young kids and their need for love, trust and their parents. The new activist see parents and children together and parents developing themselves in a society with another economic model.

The new activist can see all implications and is, unlike the old activist, not blinded by party issues, politically biased thinking, media campaigns, blinkered opinions or other binding associations.

He or she prefers to search for the truth rather than for opinions or judgments. A prerequisite for the creation of peace is that truth comes before identity.

The new activist is a truth seeker; someone who has left the introvert schisms of the old world behind. The new activist is not just the one leading the struggle for the poor against social injustice, even though that kind of activist also changes things. The revolution will be played out as much within the middle class as any other part of society. The conservatives, autocrats, hawks and patriarchs exist in all camps. The new activist is like a sniffer dog detecting power strategies and corruption and then exposes it without hesitation as he/she has no "club" to protect.

The new activist is an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary. He or she sees “the whole picture”. When that happens, one no longer holds prejudices and is less likely to envisage potential enemies and short-term goals. 

The good news is, those new activists are spreading like a prairie fire, creating confusion and fear among main stream media editors, old world politicians and political analyzers as the old world framework seems to crack everywhere.

The new activist, just like the masses of people that have had enough will never start a movement. They are the backlash brought about the new world culture. They are everywhere and maybe for the first time in history a leaderless evolution can take place instead of repetitive revolutions driven by control-freaks doing careers.

The New Devil or the One We Know

Also published on Democracy Chronicles

A wave of populism is sweeping across the Western world, and right now it’s most clearly exemplified in Donald Trump. The established politicians, culture writers, editors and so on are the ones who usually possess the most sensible and thoughtful insights, unlike populists who are blatant, emotional and dangerous; basing their opinions on simplifications and disaffection; not on the facts.

Western-style Government is fundamentally based on the premise that power should be based on the people. But maybe this is an outdated view. Today, society is much more complex. The consequences of referendums are incalculable for most voters, and therefore polls, where people with a lack of knowledge are given the same voting rights as those who have more insight into the issues, may not be appropriate. The entire Western establishment agrees that Brexit was a disaster.

And perhaps populist views and populist politicians should be kept out of the public debate as far as possible as they are irresponsible and even dangerous. The debates on integration issues, foreign policy and the views on leadership, schools, care, democracy, etc. would be more constructive if they were built on the established views and public reasoning and based on liberalism and the Western democratic culture rather than populist stupidity.

Anger, denial and a deep lack of self-confidence.

Populism occurs in response to elitism. To the traditional politician the populist is regarded as simplistic and irresponsible just as the powerful are seen as simplistic and irresponsible to the individual who seeks his own role as a grass roots citizen, the genuine article. Globalization has reinforced the vertical and hierarchical social order. Furthermore, power today is situated in a single cloud in which parliamentary democracy, capitalism, banks, intelligence services and media service providers can no longer be distinguished.

The anti-populist and simplistic political promises of “change” that characterize most Western elections lack value because they are rarely met. In our Western societies, no fundamental changes are created. On the contrary, it seems that Western culture has solidified around work and consumption as its only vision, with more and more stressed, tired and sick citizens. The trend is less analysis, less reflection and increased, convulsive social pace and more individualism.

One might ask which option carries the most superficial messages? Is it the simplistic discontent-confirming populist or the traditional, familiar and reasonable political hawk promising change but delivering the status quo. Is it the new devil or the one we know?

Many people fear a new wave of fascism. The only question is which one; the nationalist and humanly intolerant one? Or the incumbent hegemony: the power-hungry, dogmatic and increasingly fearful and controlling one? Is it Trump’s catastrophic view of women we should pay attention to or is it Clinton’s classic, ingrained patriarchal order we ought to examine? How is it possible that 40% of all voters ignore the fact that Trump doesn’t stick to the truth? Perhaps because the truths and the good argumentation that Clinton represents have never delivered in practice; within the social reality of the citizens.

Maybe we should ask why politicians, courts, banks and the media continue to lose people’s trust. Perhaps that would be something to pay attention to instead of the next political sex-scandal which makes our present state of democracy look like a burlesque show.

The most interesting thing is that there is a profound change in people’s view of the social order. Reduced confidence and increasing indifference to those in power have created new trends and new political thought structures not only among popular protest movements throughout the Western world but also among the ordinary citizens.

The carousel does not end on November 8; it has only just started to spin.