Tag Archives: social-democrat

2012 EVT – New Government, New Opposition, Last Hope (Panglossy)

Last weeks’ summary: In 2012 EVT, Everstate (the ideal-type corresponding to our very real countries created to foresee the future of governance and of the modern nation-state) knows a rising dissatisfaction of its population. Alarmed by the rising difficulties and widespread discontent, the governing authorities decide to do something when new elections start. Dependent upon programmes created to face efficiently past challenges, prisoners of entrenched political groupings, comforted in their vision by the BRICS’ success and renewed optimism, the major parties campaign to come back to the order ante. As a result, habits and the existing system, once the new national representatives are elected and the new government starts ruling, are even more entrenched, almost ossified.

(The reader can click on each picture to see a larger version in a new tab - navigating map of posts is available to ease reading).

Yet, something unexpected, dismissed or rather minimised by observers, is also happening during the months leading to the election: the rise of small and sometimes polarised parties, accompanied by an increase in the political mobilisation outside currently eligible parties. In this, Everstate is just exemplifying what is happening all over the Western world.

For example, in May 2012, in Germany in North Rhine-Westphalia, the new Pirate Party again fares very well. In France, the results of the first round of the Presidential elections shows a strong rise of parties on the extreme left and right of the political spectrum. In Greece, thirty-two parties compete during the first May elections, and seven, including those positioned at the extreme, win seats in Parliament. Meanwhile, the Occupy and Democracia Real Ya! – also known as Indignados – movements, born out of Spain’s mobilisation a year before, show their continuing presence, with various protests staged on May Day, then between 12 and 15 May, with varying participation rates. Signs of polarisation can also be found here. #Anonymous, in general, backs those movements from and in the virtual world, besides other operations, and represent a political force and not a criminal activity as some would like to interpret it.

Indeed free association, free speech and free assembly, enhanced by the new technological means of communication and mobilization, added to the general dissatisfaction while security is still being sought, create new extra-parliamentary organisations and mobilizations because the programmes of the classical parties and existing parliamentary groupings do not answer anymore the needs of the citizens and of the nations. The fluidity of the situation, the diversity of the types of organisations and the various stages of polarisation are symptoms of systems trying to evolve and redesign themselves, of the need for radically new programmes, which are in the making, as the underlying socio-political model are outmoded and do not offer any easy efficient solution.

As far as Occupy Everstate is concerned, they have to face some very difficult issues. What gave them their strength and made them truly representative, notably in terms of concerns and identification of crucial issues for the overall security of the nation, their faith in a fully democratic process, also constitutes an impediment as it slows and even sometimes block their decision process. Their main means of action, peaceful protests and sit-ins, so far has not allowed seeing their demands satisfied. Their successes are however far from negligible as they are now part of the political landscape, and are thus heard, when one year ago they were systematically ignored, and as they have succeeded in raising awareness to the plight of the many. Yet, the old ideas and habits they fight are as pregnant, powerful and ruling as ever.

Some groups within the movement are getting tired of obtaining nothing, of seeing the status quo continuing, while they start meeting difficulties to mobilise people. They are following the American debate existing over the “diversity of tactics.” Should they move away from the essential original non-violence – including the respect of laws and of property – of the movements to the “diversity of tactics” which includes also “property damage and armed retaliation against the police” but NOT “extremist tactics such as planting bombs and armed insurrection? (Bramhall, March 2012). True to the democratic foundation of the movement, the general answer is to convene a General Assembly to vote. However, lengthy debates have now been going on for days and nothing is solved. Furthermore the example of the Pirate Party also tempts Occupy Everstate. Should they register formally? This would allow them, maybe, entering parliament and developing their programme, and more important, getting things done (for the leadership and organisation debate going on in Spain, see Tremlett, May 2012). Yet, would they not also loose part of their soul, of their raison d’être? The tension is growing within the movement, while some actions abiding to the “diversity of tactics” start, still very rare, but yet, they happen.

The result of the new elections seems to freeze the contractions that agitate Occupy Everstate. Could this new government, maybe, bring Everstate back to where it was before life became so hard, before unfairness became unbearable, before the only way forward seemed to go to the streets to be heard or even worse? Nobody wants to sleep in the street, to be poor, to be condemned to unemployment, and even less to fight and risk one’s life. This hope, this last hope, isn’t it worth giving it a chance?

To be continued

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References

Stuart Jeanne Bramhall in “Debating Violence in the Occupy Movement,” Take The Square, 3 March 2012.

Giles Tremlett, “Spain’s indignado protesters face anniversary crackdown,” Guardian.co.uk, 11 May 2012.

Images

Official logo of the Swedish Pirate Party (Piratpartiet) by Piratpartiet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

The OccupyCal General Assembly approves of… something. November 15 2011 by Daniel Parks from Berkeley, United States (Fingers Up) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. This image was originally posted to Flickr by D.H. Parks at http://flickr.com/photos/8073513@N03/6349212141. It was reviewed on 21 November 2011 by the FlickreviewR robot and confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.

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2012 EVT – Scenario 2 – Panglossy: Same Old, Same Old

Last weeks’ summary: In 2012 EVT, Everstate (the ideal-type corresponding to our very real countries created to foresee the future of governance and of the modern nation-state) knows a rising dissatisfaction of its population. Everstate is plagued by a deepening budget deficit and an increasing need for liquidity, with a related creeping appropriation of resources while the strength of central public power weakens to the profit of various elite groups. An outdated world-view that promotes misunderstanding, disconnect and thus inadequate actions presides to its destiny. Henceforth, the political authorities are increasingly unable to deliver the security citizens seek. Risks to the legitimacy of the whole system increases. Alarmed by the rising difficulties and widespread discontent, the governing authorities decide to do something. Of the three potential scenarios or stories that follow, we now start the second, “Panglossy: Same Old, Same Old,”* after having seen the end of Mamominarch: Off with the State.”

(The reader can click on each picture to see a larger version in a new tab - navigating map of posts is available to ease reading).

In 2012 EVT, as Everstate’s governing authorities and more specifically national representatives start thinking they should do something to face the various difficulties they meet and notably the rising discontent, a new period of elections opens up. Thus, what matters to the national representatives now is to win the elections for a new term. It is not anymore a fear of losing power because their legitimacy as efficient rulers (being able to deliver what they have been elected for) is questioned. They need now to convince citizens that they are the best to represent the nation and govern it and that they are better than their usual competitors.

As political parties are built around a programme and according to specific lines of thoughts, the rationale of the electoral competition asks them to follow the core of those programmes to demarcate themselves from their adversaries. When each party was formed, this formation led to the construction of a unique program upon which various national representatives and parliamentary groupings agreed. This program was also built to allow for the mobilization of electors needed to see the representatives elected. However, as with the way ideological and normative belief systems and socio-political models are constructed, this mobilisation was done in the past. The problems it sought to answer are past challenges. Furthermore, it could only be built according to the socio-political model and normative framework of that time. Over time, with each election, each of the two programmes has evolved but could do so only within relatively tight boundaries. Hence, the two main parties about to dispute the elections in Everstate are both abiding by the modernizing norm, constructed around materialistic improvement, each representing, as in most of the liberal world, two ends of the same spectrum, one of social-democrat inspiration, the other with a more conservative stance.

Thus, now, if the real severe problems faced by the nation must be considered, solutions can nevertheless only be envisioned within the framework of those existing programmes, as well as within the existing socio-political model and norms. For the two major classical parties, trying to change their framework and their programme in a very substantial way would mean risking changing the existing mobilisation forces and upsetting existing parliamentary groupings, thus risking losing the elections, which, ultimately would imply not being in power.

Battles are thus pitched on relatively minor points, when seen from the point of view of the huge challenges the nation must face. From the point of view of many people who are not only electors, but also those very people who seek security, experience pressures in their everyday life and are increasingly dissatisfied, such battles contribute to further de-legitimise whoever will become the nation’s representatives, thus the government, and indeed the existing parties’ system.

Meanwhile, a combination of apparent renewed optimism, notably expressed through better statistics, for example a slightly rising consumers’ spending, especially abroad, through bullish financial markets  and stock exchanges worldwide, a slow down of protests both within Everstate and worldwide, with a fear that those protests could start again, tends to comfort the potential nation’s representatives in the validity of their old aims and programmes and in their wish to come back to the situation ante, i.e. before everything started to unravel. Chief among those aims, Everstate must obtain economic growth again. The crisis is severe, indeed, but it is certainly temporary as those optimistic signs show. Unfavourable, negative trends are still at work, and those must be faced and stopped. But the goal is clear and the framework for doing so is pristine, and it may only work, as it has always worked since the parties were created.

The rise of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), prompted by the current modernising and materialistic paradigm, only fuels this vision. Be they upheld as a threat against which one must struggle or as new partners with whom one must cooperate, their recent success is one more evidence of the correctness of the existing system. As a result, the awareness of the new pressures that had started to emerge recedes and those are considered as not really important or, if they are, their timing is uncertain, thus, if ever such threats materialise, it will be later.**

Hence, nothing fundamentally changes. On the contrary, habits and the existing system, once the new national representatives are elected and the new government starts ruling are even more entrenched, almost ossified. 

Yet, something unexpected, dismissed by observers, is also happening during the months leading to the election. To be continued

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* The name for this scenario, Panglossy, comes from the famous character Pangloss in Voltaire‘s work Candide ou l’Optimisme (Candid : or, All for the Best – 1759). Candide is an attack on Leibniz’s optimism, seen as absurd in the light of the many ills of the world. The absurdity of optimism is notably conveyed through the explanations for the series of  catastrophes met that Pangloss, Candide’s preceptor, gives and that always emphasise that “all is for the best.”

** Note that the absence of interest existing on timing and the sparse research on this factor may only ease the ability to deny reality.

Images

A frontispiece of Voltaire’s Candide (Paris : Sirène, 1759). It reads, “Candide, or the Optimism. Translated from the German by Dr. Ralph.” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

This file comes from the website of the President of the Russian Federation. Kremlin.ru [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.