Power to the people, really?

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“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.” Abraham Lincoln

Democracy, sovereignty. Bureaucracy, globalisation. The Brexit debate has brought forward a whole gear of concepts that have been massively over-used, in an urge to give some intellectual weight to each side’s arguments. The EU? a bureaucratic machine – a loss of sovereignty for its member states. The UK? A country that can face the winds of globalisation on its own, with Brexiting finally allowing its population to make choices on a democratic basis. Is it a euphemism to say that some of us have felt betrayed by the striking emptiness of these claims? That it felt like complex notions such as sovereignty and globalisation have been overly simplified and used as smokescreens to justify all sorts of self-interested political moves?

Democracy is an interesting one. On one side the Leave campaign was shouting at will that the sprawling EU machine had led to an atrophy of democracy. Leave to regain control! On the other side, it was fascinating to observe how a flurry of disdain and cynicism from the remain supporters blew on social media after the referendum results, as some claimed that this is democracy in action – or, give a voice to the people and that’s what they do with it. So what’s the diagnosis here? Too much democracy? Or not enough?  Continue reading

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Let’s talk about this hybrid beast we call capitalism over a glass of wine

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“After all, if you do not resist the apparently inevitable, you will never know how inevitable the inevitable was.” – Terry Eagleton

Breaking the Dry

February is a good and happy time of the year. Indeed – it is seeing more and more people break the painful dry of January. So after a full month of committing to all sort of sparkling ginger drinks it is time to reunite around nice dinner tables and celebrate with a portion of food that could easily suit one’s weekly dietary need. February is, therefore, a time for political debates. The ones that get launched over a glass of wine and never really properly end. The ones like “Is capitalism the best socioeconomic system humans can get” and which easily inflame the tone of a large table of friends sharing an upper-middle-class background.

Most probably, a good majority of these friends have been raised surrounded by social-liberal ideas – the kind of centrist ideology that recognises the prevalence of the market as a way of organising the economy, but nevertheless endorses the state for its redistributionary and regulatory role. Now in their thirties, they have all lived enough to observe the drastic shift towards a reduction of the public sector’s involvement in health, education, and transport that happened since the neoliberal turn of the 80s. They have heard the good old mantra of “private does it better” multiple times. They have recently come across the discourse exposing the ‘necessity’ of austerity in times of crisis – one that legitimates further reducing the supporting role of the state for the public while governments choose to make large tax favours to private giants and to bail-out banks with public finance. They have observed the appearance of the periphery inside the core, as demonstrated by the immiseration of countries like Greece1 inside Europe, with its lot of precarity and high indebtedness. They have noticed the tendency of late capitalism in commodifying not only goods and services but also health, arts, nature and basically everything that’s been spared by the magic touch of the market (have we found a way to trade our souls yet?).

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