|Bury the Hatchet and Join the
It is just a number of years ago
that an internal document of the European Commission was leaked that flatly
stated how TOO MUCH INFORMATION SOMETIMES AMOUNTS TO DIS-INFORMATION: in
fact, secrecy was urged. Secrecy and behind-the-scenes manoeuvering have
long become ‘normal’ in Western democracies that begin to resemble, more
and more, what some critics have chosen to named, quite aptly, ‘Demo-ctatorships’.
In Germany, where the dictatorship or DIKTATUR of the Fascists was experienced
up to May 8, 1945, the word DEMOKRATUR (rather that DEMOKRATIE) has been
coined. And this for good reason.
If we take the German example (again,
for good reason, as the occurrences in STUTTGART show), we observe
that several ominous tendencies stand out:
|- Just as in diverse other countries
of Europe, unprovoked violence against peaceful protests seems to
become the order of the day. (Similar observations could be made in Denmark,
France, Greece, Italy etc.)
- Top politicians directly or indirectly
justify violent police action against peaceful protesters, and tend to
slander those who peacefully exert their rights as citizens.
- Peaceful protests are described
by a minister of the interior as an “abuse” of the democratic right to
- Video surveillance and electronic
surveillance of ordinary citizens is becoming a general fact of life, both
by private business and by the State. In Germany the privatized Deutsche
Telekom, for instance (a corporation somehow comparable to the old AT&T),
wiretapped journalists and their contacts, including employees, members
of the board of directors (and here, apparently, those members that were
named by trade unions, in the context of the German law concerning participation
of employees [Mitbestimmung]). – The State has expanded wiretapping
of phone conversations and e-mail traffic and is obliging phone companies
and internet providers to store all data of all users concerning the use
of these communication services, places of use, identities of those contacted.
And this for several months. This is done in a ‘preventive’ way, without
factual judicial oversight, and regardless of whether the victims of such
surveillance are suspects or normal citizens. The data thus collected and
preserved have to be made available to the State upon request. They can
be misused by private corporations and in fact actually seem to be used
by certain corporations in their own ways.
- A new law, referred to by the
acronym ELENA, requires private business to centrally register, with a
state authority, a large number of data about their workers, including
sick-leave, membership in a trade union, strike activity, and whether they
have been formally reprimanded for anything on the job. [Similarly, US
authorities require the European Union to forward a host of data about
passengers flying to the U.S.A.; among the data required is '(known) trade-union
membership'. A strange inquiry when the regulation is justified as a so-called
- A debate has been fanned in recent
years as to whether the constitutional provision that forbids the internal
use of the armed forces in peace-time should be scrapped. – Even now, in
fact since the 1970s, the army can be deployed if the parliament
decides that an emergency exists (so-called emergency laws or Notstandsgesetze).
In late October, 2010, politicians said openly that they will deploy the
armed forces in November, 2010 against the anti-nuclear protests that are
directed against the transport of spent nuclear fuel from La Hague (France)
to Gorleben, in Northern Germany. - We do well to remember that in
the U.S. a similar effort to accustom the population to the deployment
of the army rather than the national guard is under way. There are good
reasons to assume that a concerted strategy clandestinely agreed upon by
G-7 governments exists in this respect. The self-proclaimed ‘elites’ seem
to fear a rise of popular resistance against unlawful and undemocratic
measures of the authorities, as the crisis of the economic system threatens
to become more intense.
The determination of important members
of the German “classe politique,” particularly Mr. Schaeuble, to
accustom the public to future use of the army inside Germany, and this
in peace-time and without prior approval of the parliament, is indeed significant.
In Italy and in France, the same tendeny can be observed. The population
is slowly being accustomed to an outrageous fact, something that was unthinkable
in the somehow more democratic past of our ‘liberal’ democracies. In Italy,
a prime minister widely suspected of mafia connections but befriended
by politicians like Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush, has ventured ahead by deploying
the army in Naples when elements close to the mafia (or the mafia
itself) provoked an unsatisfying condition - waste left to rot in
the streets for weeks on end. In France, Mr. Sarkozy has threatened to
use the army in order to dissolve blocades of refineries by striking workers,
in the context of the present general strike. It is important to note that
Mr. Schaeuble, Mr. Berlusconi and Mr. Sarkozy are all representatives of
the right wing of conservative parties. But why don’t we hear a cry of
protest from the ‘social democratic’ leaders, by the way?
In the U.S., the desire expressed
by certain political circles to legally use the army inside the country
in peacetime did not get the attention at all that it deserved. Such a
move would complete the realization of an anti-civil rights agenda. We
still remember how the irrationally fanned fear of “weapons of mass destruction”,
first allegdly located in Iraq and now in Iran (a country that poses no
threat, militarily, but has good reasons to fear a U.S. attack), has not
only lead the country into a war that proves highly profitable for certain
corporations (from arms-makers to private ‘security’ firms, from Halliburton
to Mr. Cheney and the likes of him). But it proved, at the same time –
as every one knows (or should be able to ascertain, by now) – extremely
disastrous for the budget. And thus, disastrous for the ordinary citizen,
the gal and the guy who’s paying already for it in the form of reduced
incomes, higher taxes, worsening infrastructure, far-reaching abolition
of what had been, in the past, a rather insufficient welfare system for
the chronically ill and the unemployed.
Discontent, in the U.S., is at present
absorbed to a large extent by the so-called ‘Tea Party Movement’ – a phenomenon
fanned by the right-wing media (like FOX) and even by more mainstream media
that give it wide coverage. Of course, it is the typical alliance of the
most uninformed and biased (if not racially prejudiced) citizens and those
who finance the whole thing – above all certain interested global players
(from GM to Big Oil, and spurious but powerful financial institutions).
But if the Clintonites and the Cheney-Bush-Palin camp are in favor of internal
deployment of the U.S. army in peacetime, do they fear a rise of
discontent that is less superficial, less manipulated, more awake
than the present ‘Tea Party Movement’? And eager to strengthen genuine
democracy, as opposed to rule by an oligarchy that counts such
figures as Mr. Kerry, Mr.Obama, a certain Ms. Pelosi and of course Cheney,
Bush, and Rumsfeld as its best representatives…
In the U.S., today, acts of people
that may have been in the service of the government (the anthrax attacks,
for instance) AND the obvious nuisance posed by frustrated and alienated
people playing with ‘terrorism’ have offered, of course, a welcome
justification for anti-terrorist legislation that in reality is preventive
in character, targeting those U.S. citizens who make use of and will continue
to make use of their democratic civil rights, especially the right to challenge
governments that lie, manipulate and condone (or even demand the perpetration
of) war crimes.
We should not forget the odd details
that surround the story we have been told by the Bush administration and
the mainstream media about 9/11. If a large percentage of the population
in the U.S. does not believe the official version that they have been told,
it is hardly paranoia on their part that has fanned doubts.
As for war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan,
it is strange and utterly anti-democratic that the Secretary of State,
Ms. Clinton, isn’t shocked by the fact that these war crimes have been
committed but by their exposure. It is the exposure she calls a crime;
it’s courageous whisteblowers showing great courage as citizens who are
depicted as criminals by her. The perpetrators of a war that both the secretary
general of the United Nations at the time and various members of the European
Parliament branded as illegal are not “brought on” – to use a phrase preferred
by the last president. But how should Ms. Clinton turn against that illegal
war when her husband, distancing him publicly from Bush’s war, did not
fail to give Mr. Blair private advice as to how Britain should support
the war-mongering coalition? And how can we assume that President Obama
will cease to protect his predecessor from criminal persecution when, right
now, he oversees an army that continues to commit war crimes in Iraq and
Afghanistan? Mr. Obama might as well turn himself in to the International
Court in the Hague. But we know all too well that this court is reserved
for those culprits who don’t dance according to the tune played by the
big orchestra in Washington, D.C.
If in the States, a fear exists
that a part of the violence exported so lavishly to the so-called Third
World in large quantities may return in small, but obnoxious doses,
this spectre is less effectively evoked in Europe. Here, it is above all
fear of immigration that is fanned, that is consciously fanned and misused,
in fact, for short-sighted political gain. And yes, of course alongside
a certain (but still hardly felt) fear of ‘terrorists’.
BUT LET’S NOT BE MISTAKEN, the dominant
social forces have always loved a certain influx of cheap labor. And they
were protecting themselves by body guards and used expensive armoured (steel-plated)
limousines long before any newspapers wrote about ‘Muslim fundamentalism’.
Let’s not kid ourselves: the so-called ‘elites’ ARE AFRAID. And as there
is no real terrorism far and wide, the REASON WHY should be quite obvious
for every one who can assess the situation soberly: The main targets of
preventive security measures by the State have been and are and will continue
to be you and me, the ordinary citizens. They fear we will not take everything
they want to make us swallow, after deciding the medicine behind closed
This is true in the United States.
It is true in the European Union. The time when militarization of society
and the internal use of the army, the curtailing of civil rights, the application
of emergency law (as now in FRANCE, by Mr. Sarkozy, during the general
strike) were qualities of certain immensely repressive or milder, thus
camouflaged dictatorhips and authoritarian regimes in the so-called Third
World, seems to be over. What political scientists described as a Western
model, as ‘liberal denocracies’, seems to become a model rapidly phased
out if we don’t put up resistance. And not defensively but courageously,
countering intentions to give us less democracy with clear demands for
more democracy, real democracy as that unfinished, open, on-going process
that demands the permanent, conscious involvement of ALL citizens.
So what is the democratic duty now?
What is necessary?
It is necessary, primarily, to stand
up for civil rights.
It is necessary to SOBERLY ANALYZE
A NETWORK OF CLOSE RELATIONSHIPS, BETWEEN BIG BUSINESS AND TOP LAYERS OF
THE “CLASSE POLITIQUE”.
As far a EUROPE is concerned, it
is necessary, for instance, to ask why political decisions are shifted
away, more and more, FROM NATIONAL PARLIAMENTS (where we still have, at
least in theory, a minimum of democratic control by elected representatives
of us, the people) TO THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS AND THE EUROPEAN
COMMISSION, that is to say from the legislative to the executive.
Yes, watch out - this is indeed
happening on the European level, institutionalizing the option and “legal”
power of an un-elected executive (the Council, and its bureaucratic apparatus,
the Commission) to outmanoeuvre and disempower national parliaments, and
to oblige them to scrap nationally valid laws that were passed by the majority
of their representatives.
And this EVEN THOUGH THE EUROPEAN
RULES, REGULATIONS AND LAWS THAT SUPERSEDE SUCH NATIONAL LAWS PASSED IN
A NATIONAL PARLIAMENT, ARE FORMULATED BY A EUROPEAN COMMISSION which is
“CONTROLLED” BY THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT THAT ISN’T EVEN ALLOWED TO INTRODUCE
ACTS ON ITS OWN ACCORD. A European Parliament, in other words, that has
all the qualities of parliaments WITH CURTAILED RIGHTS... A parliament
befitting a “democ-tatorship”, you might say... IF NOT, IN EFFECT,
LARGELY A DEMOCRATIC SMOKE-SCREEN OF A NEW FEUDALISM OF THE TRANSNATIONAL
CORPORATIONS WHICH INVARIABLY HAVE THEIR WAY.
In the UNITED STATES, presidential
prerogative or privilege has, to some degree, strengthened the executive
in similar ways. George W. Bush frequently made use of it. Worse, of course,
was the consensus fabricated by manipulators and spin doctors in the White
House and above all in the media, a consensus that seemed to oblige members
of Congress to support the fraudulent pro-war policies of the Bush camp
even when they weren’t voted into office on the G.O.P. ticket.
It is clear that those of us who
support genuine democracy are not in favor of nationalism. Yes, it
is true: The way representative democracy and most national parliaments
in EUROPE function today gives many among us ample reason to be highly
critical. But it does not make sense to be anti-European. It is the political
weight of the executive and its closeness to big business, as well as the
attempt to enshrine neo-liberal tenets in a “European constitution” that
we must reject, just as we must reject the way the de-facto constitution
was passed – by bypassing the population in most countries. (Wherever a
referendum was held, the proponents of the neo-liberal pseudo-constitution
No, it is not good to be anti-European
but it is important to be against a fortress Europe, a EUROPE of the TNCs
ready to intervene in the old, and new imperial and neo-colonial way, wherever
“OUR” (i.e. THEIR !) INTERESTS ARE AT STAKE.
What we demand is empowerment of
the population, disempowerment of those who today bathe in the old arrogance
What we hope for is a debate. We
WHICH PARTICIPATIVE STRUCTURES
AND PROCESSES ARE NECESSARY ON THE LOCAL, REGIONAL, NATIONAL and SUPRA-NATIONAL
LEVEL, IN ORDER TO MAKE DEMOCRACY A LIVED and LIVING DEMOCRACY, enabling
above all those factually disempowered today, TO DEBATE, TO REFLECT, TO
DECIDE matters that directly concern them? - Something that clearly is
not the case today.
IT SHOULD BE CLEAR WHAT MATTERS
|- A new economic economic practice
that ends the present, destructive practices which threaten the environment,
which threaten survival not just of a number of red-listed animals and
plants but of the human species, as well.
- A new social practice that ends
the present inequalities of access to food, clothing, accommodation, health,
education and so on, on a world-wide scale.
- A new political practice that
practically involves the majority of citizens, including all those who
still remain, at present, often dis-informed and discouraged. A practice,
in other words, that breaks the decision-making monopoly of a “classe politique”:
a MONOPOLY WHICH IN PRACTICE IS SO EASILY LEADING TO CERTAIN TEMPTATIONS,
including graft or corruption, cheating in elections, calumny and dubious
assertations about opponents, falsification of facts, and so on.
A renewal of our society is necessary.
Not the so-called “REFORMS” PUSHED THROUGH AT PRESENT, from the top to
the bottom: REFORMS THAT ARE AT BEST PALLIATIVE.
What is needed is a deeper, more
thorough change that enhances democratic participation in all sectors of
society and that takes serious ALL the concerns harbored by ordinary citizens.
Whether every one of these concerns is well-founded, only an open, democratic
debate can perhaps determine. Without some confidence in the basic integrity
of human beings, their emotional awareness and intellectual ability to
face problems and search for answers, we might give up our endeavours and
turn fatalist. But without such confidence, what reason do we have to trust
the present leaders?
Let us assume therefore that basic
human qualities are shared qualities. LET US NOT DENY PRESENT LEADERS THE
SAME VOICE THE SALES-GIRL NEXT DOOR OR THE CAB-DRIVER OR MECHANIC SHOULD
HAVE. We need the intelligence and sense of decency of all. AND THE ABILITY
TO CRITIQUE WHAT DEPARTS FROM IT, in everyone of us, at times, or so it
Without reducing the overwhelming
power and influence of the few, the necessary small voice (accompanied
by a small quantity of power) that every one of us should have in the common
concert will never be realistically heard.
Without such change, privilege and
its destructive effects will continue to be felt, which would announce
a gloomy future indeed for the next one or two generations.
How did that poet cry, years ago,
in the 1940s, when FASCISM was the big threat faced by humanity?
It is time to move. TIME TO THINK
AND DEBATE AND THINK AGAIN AND MAKE NEW DECISIONS AND ACT ACCORDINGLY.
OTHERWISE, HOW CAN WE STILL CREATE
A BETTER, MORE JUST AND DEMOCRATIC, SISTERLY WORLD?
Therefore, turning to people in
the SO-CALLED THIRD WORLD, we, as INHABITANTS OF THE “NORTH,” of an AMERICA
and a EUROPE guilty of past and present imperial endeavours, ask you, accept
our outstretched, brotherly hand. Our promise to fight for global, compensatory
Therefore, as CITIZENS in the mighty
U.S., how can we not renounce all aspirations to maintain and strengthen
the hegemony of those who rule us and who attempt to rule the world?
Therefore, AS EUROPEANS, ACTIVE
IN A NEW CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, turning at this moment to the populations
of Europe, we ask all ecologists, anti-nuclear activists, anti-war activists,
all the youngsters left out in the cold by the educational system
and the job market, all supporters of the GREEN party, altermondists and
democratic leftist, the decidedly anti-neoliberal members of Social Democratic
Parties and those citizens who are decidedly Christian and Democratic,
to come together, to bury the hatchet, and join the Democracy Movement!