They say: There is no alternative

Also published on Dissident Voice and Swedish Fria tidningen

We are living in times of increased global economic injustice, suspicion against the establishment and a political terrain that is being redrawn to such an extent that few analysts really understand what is happening. Rarely have we seen such political mobility and possibility for change. But the ruling political consensus in Europe and the western world seems unyielding: “There is no alternative”.

The political and economic framework tells us that it is hard work, credits and consumption that the citizen must relate to. And when this machinery does not deliver, it is the citizen who takes responsibility. A time of considerable levels of unemployment and social exclusion is the most common medicine. The underlying message is that a continued development of democracy is not possible; which is why another society, characterized by participation, tolerance, security and quality of life cannot be realized either. Why do politicians’ ability to deliver stop at everyday politics, blocking strategies and just fishing for votes, and why is it no longer possible to discuss visions and a further development of our society? What is it that caused everything to be locked in a vice?

Sometime in the 80s, the free market had to be given even freer rein as it surely “knew what was best for everyone”. Politics was to be detached from the economy while banks were given wider freedom to act as creditors in order to be able to boost consumption and growth. Politicians and economists agreed: “There is no alternative”.

The increased lending led to debt crises in the 80s and 90s; the old, familiar story about money and credits lacking coverage until they are forced to be repaid, thus revealing the con. We know it in everyday vocabulary as a “real estate bubble”, “finance bubble” etc.

With globalization, capitalism grew out of its national costume. The boundless financial industry set the new world culture. Everything had to move faster, be easier, be temporary and follow the rapid twists and turns of the financial markets. “If there are no jobs in your area, uproot your family and move somewhere else.” The connection to political parties and unions dwindled; the old society was perceived as rigid, slow and unworkable.

In this new era of financing, people were urged to go beyond their own capacity to pay by consuming with their future income. Another way to circumvent the natural laws was the new consumerism. The simple principle that demand creates supply had expired. Instead, supply was first created, after which, with the help of marketing, demand as well as the necessary consumption culture was introduced, as illusory as tobacco advertising and bank credits. There are hundreds of bread brands in your supermarket, but not quite the one you want, right?

The new society characterized by individualization, efficiency, strategic thinking and less cohesion slowly emerged from the 90s and into the 21st century. The ideological breadth of politics in the 70s had shrunk to a red-green-blue alloy; a unanimous work- and consumption ideal; a culture originally created with a liberal intent now became a period of political narrow-mindedness.

Then came the 2008 financial crisis; the 150th since the late 19th century. The same repetitive process of interest rate cuts, increased lending and bursting bubbles. Millions of people were hit by unemployment, lost their homes and were forced to pay for the financial feast when countries had to skimp on health care in order to pay interest rates. Politicians and economists in the western world nevertheless agreed: “There is no alternative”.

The politicians’ democratic contracts with the citizens were no longer possible to maintain. The old principle of letting politics control the worst inventions of capitalism had, in a few decades, been transformed into allowing them instead to protect the financial world from too much democratic invention. Politicians’ solidarity with the finance industry became stronger than that with the citizens. A new caste of those in power emerged, a layer, a hybrid of politicians, economists and technocrats, an ever-deeper establishment.

Above this layer, a clique of powerful oligarchs, especially in the financial industry, has strengthened its position. They act beyond national borders and regardless of countries’ state budgets, unemployment, material and social misery; unquestioned and protected in the name of globalization.

Over the years and strangely enough to the astonishment of many, populism and the criticism of those in power has increased. The Occupy movement after 2010 should have been an alarm call. The prolonged breach of contract between the rulers and the masses has created a protectionist prairie fire all over the western world on the theme “We’ve had enough!”.

The threat of the European Central Bank and EU politicians in 2015 to close Greece’s banks and openly reject a democratic referendum was an assault; they might as well have rolled in with tanks, but that would have even more blatantly dented the illusion that the EU stands for peace. When democracy in Greece was put out of action, Europe’s deep establishment stood silently watching. They probably thought: “There is no alternative”.

Destructive extremism, antagonism and resignation over the way society evolves is not created by undemocratic forces or political loonies, it is created and maintained by all our common politicians, by EU technocrats, lobbyists and other influential people in our society. They argue that people’s dissatisfaction threatens “the democracy” but their democracy is merely a mantra, a washed-out club badge, pie-in-the-sky with populistic connotations to make people swallow a societal structure which passed its sell by date long ago. This cannot be diverted simply as a matter of correct or incorrect facts; it is a question of a proper social culture or not.

The options consist of a long-term shift in the view of democracy. Politicians must return to their employers, the voters, and guarantee the most basic economic conditions. Health care must be released from economic frenzy and all the ill-health and pessimism it creates. It is time to delouse society of wrong thinking, such as that there are insufficient financial resources while at the same time a small percentage of the population possesses enormous wealth. Also, politics must not be a choice between an economic autocracy or a state autocracy.

Politicians need your help; they need to hear the voice and clear message of the people. They must be directed to completely different politics and to a developed democracy that dares to remake and make right. They will not like it, they will bark, growl and threaten – but there is no alternative.

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.

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.