What happened to politics?

Why are people in US/Europe fed up with current politicians and moving towards more intolerant/right wing positions (Trump, Brexit, French FN,…) or, to more extreme left wing positions (Corbyn, Sanders, Podemos, Syriza,…)?

A simplistic answer is that everyone in these countries is no longer sharing in the good life. The rich have got a lot richer, the poor have got a lot poorer. The banks crashed the system but largely got away with it, leaving most of us poorer. So there’s more to bitch about.

Globalisation has spread the good life around, but more for ‘them’ than for ‘us’. We just see the bad side of this, as the chickens come home to roost – from various foreign adventures in Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Libya, now Syria, etc – from the effects of climate change where globalisation has pressed the accelerator pedal – from population movements that have inevitably resulted.

And the big issues are not being addressed, in some degree due to the corporate stranglehold on change, particularly apparent in the US and apparently being rolled out across the world in varous ‘trade agreements’. Which big issues? Here’s a good starter list: refugees/immigration, climate change, failing debt-based money system, tax havens, unreasonable levels of inequality.

Our politicians are apparently unable to address these issues in any meaningful way. Perhaps because of their powerlessness, they appear to come from a position of denial that they are the big issues. From the top, they appear to be more concerned with winning the next election than doing ‘the right thing’ – see the current ‘Brexit’ referendum, a successful wheeze to win the last election for the Conservatives.

Many of the issues require coordinated action at continental or world level, so there are always excuses as to why nothing is done. The national identity politics of the right simply retreats from even trying to coordinate at these higher levels.

Jo_Cox_MP_MemorialNow most politicians probably start out with the very best of intentions. The recently assassinated Jo Cox was a fine example. Somewhere along the way, is the fire in their bellies quenched by the compromises of power and the seeking of it? I am not qualified to answer, but I would like to see more Jo Coxes with the honesty, directness and fire to get on with what is right for their people.

Image by Garry Kinight [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

A decent life

The recent interventions of David Milband and Angeline Jolie Pitt in the debate about refugees are timely and appropriate.

The refugee system across the world is in crisis, at a time when we can expect massive increases in the numbers, due to increasing effects of global warming and related warfare. Chickens are coming home to roost.

As Miliband says,

  • There are currently 60 million displaced persons around the world.
  • The average time someone remains a refugee is 17 years.
  • A total of 80% of refugees have remained without any economic status for over a decade.

As Jolie Pitt says

  • people feel “angry” and “cheated” by the huge numbers crossing borders around the world… eroding public confidence in the ability of institutions in power to deal with the issue.
  • It has created the risk of a race to the bottom, with countries competing to be the toughest in the hope of protecting themselves whatever the cost or challenge to their neighbours and despite their international responsibilities.

It seems a time when political ‘leaders’ lack vision and empathy. Why don’t we give the UN the resources to really get on and solve the problem, before it gets many times worse – and if necessary create ‘new frontiers’ that will provide a good living and employment and education for all refugees. Central Asia has been mentioned, but there must be other possibilities such as greening and solar farming parts of the Sahara.

Is there really a problem of resources? This is the United Nations of the Earth! Try a simple thought experiment. Each central bank, at the same time, ‘creates’ say 1% of its annual money supply (out of thin air) and puts it in an account to be spent by the UN. Since it happened to all currencies at the same time there can be little effect of devaluing one against another.

Maybe not the right answer, but it shows that the problem is one of political will, and is not insoluble. But of course it would depend on a massive parallel effort to keep corruption in check.

Retreating inside the walls of our nation-state-egos [eg Brexit] might make us feel temporarily safe, but is long-term self-defeating in a world that will become increasingly unstable because of this lack of empathy.

Everyone deserves a decent life.

Featured image of Rwandan refugee camp in Zaire by CDC [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons