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Monday, August 1, 2011

Democracy withers away: Europe’s wakeup call - Le Monde diplomatique | via @NaomiAKlein

Serge Halimi: Europe’s wakeup call - Le Monde diplomatique - English edition

When the balance that keeps labour and capital in relative equilibrium gets trashed (or more likely in this context, sold off to private investors), the political and social consequences ought to be predictable.

Vast swathes of public policy have already been closed off and rendered inaccessible to conventional democratic processes. Anyone who's seen so-called "free trade" arrangements in operation can recognize that already in the multiple ways governments are shackled and constrained from acting in the public interest. The threat of penalties for failing to prioritize the interests of investors outweighs the public good in too many ways to enumerate.

The enervating effect on civic life is obvious: as more and more sectors of political and economic policy are rendered off limits to public control, politics itself becomes enfeebled, symbolic, and ultimately meaningless. As Halimi observes:

Honduras has established an enterprise zone, in which national sovereignty does not apply. Europe is currently establishing a debate zone for all the economic and social issues no longer discussed by the political parties because these areas have gone beyond their control. Inter-party competition now concentrates on social matters: the burqa, the legalisation of cannabis, radar on motorways, the angry gestures or foul language of a reckless politician or intoxicated artist. This confirms a trend already noticeable 20 years ago: real political power is shifting to areas where democracy carries no weight, until the day when indignation finally boils over. Which is where we are.

There's nothing new about the institutions of governance being colonized and bent to the service of powerful interests intent on enriching themselves at everyone else's expense. What's mystifying is why we continue to allow it.

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1 comment:

  1. But if we don't let them economically rape us they might move to China!!!