Saturday, January 31, 2009

Civil Unrest across Europe

Strikes and civil unrest not just in Britain, but across Europe: Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, France, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia and Greece - and the recession has hardly started.

The various outbreaks of dissent have different causes, but the single underlying cause is deep and pervasive dissatisfaction with government. Civil unrest and disobedience tends to bring about abrupt changes of Government, as has already happened in Iceland.

It is a double edged sword, though. The BNP will be trying to hijack the anger and strikes over foreign workers to its own advantage. Frightened, Government will tend to respond with yet heavier policing and more restrictive rules for public assembly.

If the demonstrations do manage to bring about change, it may not be the right change. Changing the person or party in power may or may not help a bit - but the real change needs to be in the underlying political philosophy. New Governments needs to break with the old, broken ideologies of the free market, and take on the philosophy of a market guided by ecological and social values operating in a mixed economy.

We need economics founded on ecology instead of the shibboleth of corporate profit;
we need societies founded on coherent, resourceful local communities, rather than the controlled by the centralising orders of managerialism;
we need democracies driven by people power, not based on the exercise of an absurd, Winner takes All, First Past the Post electoral system once every four years.

Change is in the air. To make sure it is positive change, the Green Party needs to put forward a clear idea of what we have to do to solve the many interlocking crises that we face, a clear set of demands.

The problem lies in a broken economic system. The old command economy of communism faded away in the 1990s. Now the free market fundamentalism is breaking up.

In the place of this old pair of opposed opposites, greens can put forward a solid cognitive framework for a system of economics based on ecology.

Not only is green ideology intellectually coherent, resolving the otherwise irreconcilable difference between individualism and socialism, but also, in the Green New Deal, it offers a direct and practical way of dragging the world economy out of recession.

As things stand in the Green Party, we need to put forward these proposals an Enabling Motion for autumn 2009 Conference, bring out a Draft Voting Paper for the spring 2010 conference, have it referred back at the autumn 2010 conference, and maybe have it in the MfSS by 2011, with a bit of luck. A week is a long time in real politics, but for the Green Party policy making process, a week does not exist. Ho hum.


bigbluemeanie said...

I am not sure that I agree with this:

I remember the disillusionment in the left at the time "the old command economy of communism faded away in the 1990s" and I don't see anything on this scale in the free-market/capitalist camp. The people you would expect to be most disillusioned are actually calling for the state to let the big finance capitalists fail.

We are not really witnessing a broken ideology.

DocRichard said...

Good point, bbm. It is early days yet, though. The system is showing cracks, but the structure may have further to go.

Behind the scenes, we can be pretty sure that some of the players at least are having to concentrate on maintaining the tone of their anal sphincters. Remember too, that these people are past masters at masking their emotions.

The theory of the free market fundamentalists is bust. They are still wielding power, but let's wait and see.

DocRichard said...

The ideology of the free market is bust, but the believers in the ideology are still vocal and influential. But their basis of belief - ever increasing prosperity for the rich - is a dead parrot.

There is a nice paradox in the fact that the free market fundamentalists are criticising the bailout. At least they are consistent. Such is their belief, they would be prepared to let the banks crash. There is a resonance here with those who say that the bailout is putting the taxpayer in hock for the next 20 years, all in order to shore up a stupid system and get it back to Business as Usual (BAU).

As a monetary reformer, I have sympathy with this view, but politically it would not be wise to call for the banks to be left to crash, along with people's savings.

It may turn out that the bailout money does disappear into the ether, and the financial system crumples under the weight of its internal contradictions.

In that case, we will have a clean sheet to recreate a financial system that is fit for purpose.

More here.