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A Spectre is Haunting Europe: The Spectre of Democracy


#1

A Spectre is Haunting Europe: The Spectre of Democracy

John Weeks

In an Open Democracy article a few weeks ago I argued there would be no agreement between the Greek government and the Troika. I took this position because it was (and is) obvious that the most powerful actor within the Troika, the German government, would not agree to any substantial alteration of the austerity program imposed on previous Greek governments.


#2

Yes.

Many of us were naive and believed that Greece would not lead itself to the slaughter.


#3

“It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged. ”
― G.K. Chesterton


#4

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#5

We warn about rising reactionary trends and the growing power of oligarchy in this New Corporate World Order but do we really believe it means to take over? I mean do we really feel deep in our guts that the oligarchic elites would deliberately oppose freedom and democracy? It seems counterintuitive that anyone could oppose freedom doesn't it? Don't we all believe democracy is the ideal form of government? Or do we?

Here in America we have the rightwing and the ultra-reactionary forces and the usual greed uber alles fanatics but we have never had a direct experience with overt fascism like people in Europe and Asia. Maybe because our rightwing (reactionary as they may have been) fought the rightwing fascists, we took for granted that our rightwing wouldn't ever choose to go fascist. We assumed after the defeat of the fascists that the world would always strive towards democracy almost as a given.

We might have been wrong about that.

Are true anti-democratic forces asserting themselves again but in a more egalitarian corporate guise? This time around wearing business suits instead of uniforms. A corporate elite class that governs at home through politicians that decide public policy at meetings from behind closed doors and imposes international rule at closed to the public trade and banking conferences?

Are we still so mesmerized by the stomp of jackboots marching down the boulevards that we think that unless we hear them that we are safe? A quieter gentler fascism has supplanted that harsh iron fist and boot heel.

An elite fascism whose troops are lobbyists and advertising and marketing consultants. A camouflaged fascism that smiles paternally and yet exerts a stern and punishing will to ensure it gets its way. A fascism of cultured elegance and refinement.

Once we called that elite the 'Nobility' - those seemed born or advanced to rule. Then it was titles by birth but even so admission was still determined by wealth. There was nothing noble about being poor even if once your ancestors had been among the privileged few. Money bought status then as now. Titles were a technicality but estates and manor houses were still the coin of that realm.

Billionaires, tax cuts for the rich, austerity for ... the peasants (boy is that ever an old tune)...

Change the names and the 'Ancien Regime' become corporate elites and billionaires. Change the name again and the corporate elites and billionaires become anti-democratic forces that seek to control events without the interference of democracy and the annoyance of having to answer to the little people.

To paraphrase - "the sound of a tree falling in the forest..."

If no one heard the sound of marching jackboots in the street... would fascism still be there?


#6

Call it what you like... "A quieter gentler fascism... "

The greedy and power-hungry have always busied themselves taking advantage of purer souls. Plus ça change...


#7

Tsipras capitulated big-style. You wonder what he was thinking of... or maybe getting in his back pocket.


#8

Not to be boring or anything but Fascism really is the natural form of government for the corporate state. And with the collapse of the USSR capital has no competition and is free to remove the inconvenience of liberal democracy.


#9

Have some sympathy here; had Tsipras done anything different than he did he would have had to play the same role versus Germany and the EU as did Castro vis-a-vis the USA. I do not think the Greek people are yet ready for that level of defiance.
I do not think we are going to get away from the New World Order without revolution.


#10

Well okay. Just reading the Varoufakis site, it appears military threats might even have been made. What a lovely world!
But I think Tsipras could have told the Greeks to vote on the offered deal rather than just to stay in the Eurozone whatever. Talk about narrowing your optioins...


#11

Wereflea:

Very nicely put!


#12

I fear to tread in SR's berry patch but there's a few too many "we's" going on here that just aren't so. This 'we' (me) is not and wants no part of most of them:
To quote a few:

And "I mean do we really feel deep in our guts that the oligarchic elites would deliberately oppose freedom and democracy?"
And "we took for granted that our rightwing wouldn't ever choose to go fascist."

No. We aren't, don't, and didn't.


#13

Yes you are stuck in the briar patch ... They are not literal we's but merely rhetorical ones. If I am responding to an autistic/asperger's spectrum person then I apologize but otherwise, I defer to the literary device as self explanatory.


#14

The drone pointed at his arse.


#15

I agree. I still gave him a "like" for doing his own version of at least 2 points that I have made in the past. One is that fascism is not recognized as such due to the change in uniforms/fashion/appearance, and the other, his nod to the elites who use the tools of commerce & media to fulfill the same purposes as the jack-booted fascists more familiar to "us" from Hollywood's many renditions.

I gave him a pass on the ridiculous WE qualifier. It's obnoxious because it insists that all persons share the same views, hold the same perceptions, and agree with the same machinations and policies. In sum, this framing works as propaganda because it insists upon one uniform, one-size-fits--all characterization of a wide, complex citizen "body." Can anyone imagine a smoother way to "manufacture consent" and make dissent invisible while wiping out alternative ideas, beliefs, customs, etc.?

This mindset (and frequently used messaging frame) is conducive to those who are conformists by nature. That means: Authoritarians. It also works in synch with persons IN uniform and that makes sense since "intelligence" operations granted enormous sums of money farm out Message Control tasks to boiler room soldier kids who follow scripts. Loyal to the MIC and/or their paymasters, they have all the time in the world to repeat unexamined ideas and/or lies told often.


#16

What makes this "literary device self-explanatory"? Are you unaware that language shapes perception? This is something that too many men are insensitive to and inured to: that most language frames are given in the masculine. Since males (many of whom tend to be selfish and self-serving by nature) have no problem with this, they strike any challenge to it as unnecessary and/or irrelevant.

Language itself is the currency of linearity. Since the typical sentence holds a subject and a verb, it sets up a linear direction to the structure of language. And do not assume that all other cultures use that frame. You would be wrong.

White Anglo-Christian conquerors took their beliefs to all the lands they conquered. Quickly, they made use of gunpowder as well as the sword to enforce them. Indigenous children were taken out of Native homes and forced to turn their backs on their own heritage while adopting the ways of the white settlers. This is STILL a dominant practice. (One example: Arizona's white racists making sure that books allotting a historical narrative that looked more honestly at the ways "the West was won" were banned.)

Language must be scrutinized since it's embedded with all the prejudices of the dominant group. And THAT dominant group has sent this world into absolute turmoil, spreading wars, natural resource exhaustion, and incalculable financial graft.

Using the analogy of the arrogant father-husband who is OBVIOUSLY lost but refuses to ask for directions or turn the steering wheel over to his wife, the dominators continue to resist any story other than their own, and any societal models that challenge their own. They do this by demonizing, silencing, denigrating, and degrading any voices that represent a better alternative than the one propped up as some God-given, immutable "reality."

And that is why you soldier boys borrow my ideas to repackage them in ways that work against the exposures I offer; and why I am referred to when I am not even participating in a thread. It also is one of the reasons for an attack campaign.

A key facet of domination is control of the narrative and its underlying ideology. THAT is why it's not just mass media that is embedded with lock step message shapers. And while this small group's members frequently change their screen names, OFTEN I have pointed out who they are and were. Message is like a thumbprint... and it can be read with or without the "identity mask."


#17

SR -
I didn't bring you up in a thread, someone else did and I explained to them about my use of the rhetorical 'we' Reading this amazingly inclusive - everything and the kitchen sink - comment of yours, I am struck by how little of it actually referred to the use of the literal or rhetorical 'we' but went to a lot of places whether directions were asked for or not!

This refusal to allow the collective or the rhetorical or the 'royal' 'we' etc. in favor of the solitary literal 'we' usage is your personal choice but you make it seem like the use of a rhetorical 'we' is not legitimate. However it is a standard and long used literary device. You may not like it when it is used that way, I personally dislike the royal 'we' for example but as it stands, I am obviously partial to the rhetorical 'we'. What can i say? I am a flawed human being and **we ** humans have our (that is the reflective our not the literal our) shortcomings.

I do apologize to you SR and hope that you will understand that in the future that I will use the word we in a non literal context. Furthermore to at least put your mind at ease, I have never even once used a different screen name since this new change over and Wereflea is the only me ...um... literally!

I don't know what you mean by soldier boys nor by your claim of repackaging your ideas which I assure you that I have no need to do nor have I ever wanted to do such a thing! Sorry if that doesn't flatter you. Moreover you have attacked me several times previously about other things and do the same thing to other people as well. The fact that you are projecting (in the psychological sense not the literary nor the literal sense) says something but I will not go there since at the very least you mean well in general.

Once again may I remind you that I did not mention you in the thread and while you might take issue with my characterization of a literary device being self explanatory... upon due reflection and consideration... I have decided to apologize to you for using it and hope that you will excuse my use of it in the future.

Peace SR.


#18

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#19

The use of the term WE is absolutely appropriate inasmuch as anyone staring down at WE humans from outer space would probably see as US a single species. In addition, OUR outstanding feature is OUR propensity to THINK we are different from one another when in fact, take off OUR clothes and our mental definitions of who WE are and... well WE are pretty much alike, The notion that WE are all different from one another is a human indulgence brought on by self-importance and being too close to see the wood for the trees.

It is a sad anecdote that many who argue for a peaceable coexistence on planet Earth spend their energies pointing fingers and exaggerating the petty little differences that have them scared to recognise our commonality.


#20

Do you really want to link to this author? Do you really know what this author's take on politics is? I've followed him, and he is excellent on Ukraine. He is a long time supporter of the Democratic Party, he proposed the Democrats lead the charge to impeach Obama. He wrote;

"They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010" Here's some of the things Mr. Zuesse has to say:

"The Democratic and Republican Parties are virtual opposites of each other in their economic records, going back to the earliest period for which economic data were available, around 1910. More than a dozen studies have been done comparing economic growth, unemployment, average length of unemployment, stock market performance, inflation, federal debt, and other economic indicators, during Democratic and Republican presidencies and congresses, and they all show stunningly better performance when Democrats are in power, than when Republicans are. These studies are all available online, and they are all summarized and discussed in this path-breaking book, which settles, once and for all, the question of whether there’s any significant economic difference between the two Parties. Not only is there a difference, but – shockingly – it always runs in favor of Democrats in power. There might be other types of reasons for voting Republican, but all of the economic reasons favor voting for Democrats. Regarding economic performance, the two Parties aren’t even close."