Spain: A New Era

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The tidal wave of the world and, particularly, the European crisis is seriously affecting not only the implementation of political programs but also the very foundations of effective democratic practice.

When in the 1980s President Regan’s ambitions of dominance, aided by Prime Minister Thatcher, were successful in persuading a large part of the developed world of the need to replace ethical principles with the “laws of the market”, a period was initiated in which Nation-States were weakened, the multilateralism of the United Nations was replaced by groups of plutocrats (G6, G7, G8, G20) comprising the wealthiest nations of the world, and there was a process of delocalization of a large part of production, with insatiable greed... Very few warned of the profound consequences that would ensue from these essential changes in world governance.

The telecommunications (1993) and real estate (2007) “bubbles” and their corresponding economic fluctuations gave rise to a multiple (ethical, democratic, political, food, environmental, financial) crisis that has been mishandled, using the same suppositions and means of action that prompted the disaster. The “rescue” of financial institutions promoted by President Bush through the G20 gave new wings to the “rescued” and impoverished the “rescuers”.

Instead of promoting an effective renewal of multilateralism and reestablishing ethical principles and human rights as guidelines for political action, neoliberal policies were pursued, particularly in the “West”, and the “great domain" (military, financial, media, oil) gradually re-gained the reins of the system to reinstate the strength of the dollar zone, and subsequently the yuan, over the euro zone.

After mercilessly hounding the most fragile countries (due to their financial policies and “bubbles”), they have rapidly achieved political changes (even in Ireland, which until very recently was considered a model in economic school curricula), although initially (in Ireland, United Kingdom, Portugal) the changes took place quickly but within democratic procedures. Spain was obliged to effect profound changes in the government’s program... that has so far enabled it to escape a “rescue” and the storms that have devastated Greece and Italy, whose parliaments and governments have been eliminated and revamped to please the markets.

All of this is extremely serious and requires rapid and categorical responses from the European Union.

And, nevertheless, the EU has continued to maintain structures and procedures that instead of strengthening it, have increased its weaknesses, placing the EU at the mercy of rating agencies and the most audacious speculative practices... while the United States is now focusing its attention on Asia and the Pacific, seeking new alliances with the main emerging countries, including those in Latin America.

As Robert Schuman noted in1950, Europe must use its “great creative capacity” instead of submitting to economic norms and guidelines, and policies that are now merely anachronisms. We have to invent the future; we must once and for all abandon strategies that have created a world of 7 billion inhabitants where only 20% of them live in the most prosperous areas, while the rest, who suffer a progressive lack of the basic necessities, reach limits of extreme poverty and death from starvation.

For me it is a truly “obsession of conscience”, as a fact that demostrate the failure of “neoliberal globalization”, that each day 4 billion dollars are invested in weapons and military spending while at the same time over 60,000 people die from hunger. I will never tire of repeating this. No one should tire of repeating this and of bearing it in mind, so that it may guide our actions daily.

Yesterday the Spanish people gave a resounding victory to the Popular Party, whose impassioned and united followers supported change against a Socialist Party that suffered a serious defeat, due to wounds from hounding or to the disappointment of many who abstained from voting or did so for other leftist forces. The Socialist Party will recover, thanks to those same values that now, having had to renounce some of them in the face of attacks from the markets, have brought it down.

I must underscore with satisfaction that election day was admirably calm and, for the first time, did not take place under the disturbing shadow of ETA.

Years ago I wrote that elections are a very important aspect of democracies, but that we shouldn’t only go by the exact results of the ballot box, but should ensure that the political actions of the elected officials permanently reflect the “voice of the people”.

Otherwise, we will have been counted (so many votes for, so many against)... but we won’t count as citizens, and we won’t actually be taken into account afterwards. For that reason we have to underscore the extraordinary role that distance participation can play. We must listen carefully to the proposals and points of view of citizens who, as in the case of the 15-M movement, peacefully offer their perspectives. In the next few months and years cyberspace will be a key factor in strengthening or tempering the “loud and clear voice” of those who were formerly subjects but who are now full-fledged citizens.

Citizens who so rightly call for electoral reforms, the appointment of judges without ideological bias, transparency in banking and the elimination of tax havens, etc, etc.

It is clear, crystal clear, that the urgent problems facing our country will not be resolved locally, but rather largely within the framework of the European Union, which to-date has shown a lack of appropriate leadership. I have already mentioned on many occasions the pressing need to establish an autonomous security system, with a considerable reduction in military spending, commencing by ceasing to acquire out-dated military hardware; fiscal federation and the issuing of Eurobonds, since both the U.S. and the United Kingdom can "issue" large amounts of money, as they have done recently to promote innovation, while in Europe we have to carefully follow austerity measures that, alone, won’t allow for growth or create employment; banking transparency and, particularly important at present, a reinstatement of the democratic principles that have characterized the West, not merely as a democratic model or structure, but as universally-valid values. And just as a working democracy would be reinstated at the local level, a re-founding of the United Nations should be promoted at the global level.

Without this “activation” on the part of Europe, the new widely-supported government will not be able to resolve problems and, above all, it will not be able to keep its key electoral promise: creating employment, being forced to make inadmissible cuts in social programs.

In other respects, I hope that the responsibility that comes with power will moderate some of its positions (Law on Dependence, education for citizenship, etc.) which have been important “acquisitions” for the Spanish people and in which losses would be inadmissible.

With everyone’s collaboration, let’s seek this new leadership that the European Union requires to resolve the majority of this country’s problems. Once again, Robert Schuman proclaimed in 1950 that “Europe will not be made all at once,… It will be built through concrete achievements which first create de facto solidarity". And, as Hugues de Jouvenel indicated in this month’s “Futuribles”, quoting Saint-Exupéry, "What saves a man is to take a step. And another... and another…”.

Only then will we be able to overcome these last throes of the power of the markets, which change governments without elections and enslave their western rescuers... But this will not last long: citizens will shortly show that they will not allow a few rich countries to continue to hold the reins of their destiny. And democracy and politics will recover decision-making power based on the ethical principles that should never have been entrusted to the “markets”.

In this new era there are reasons for all citizens, whatever their ideology, to feel committed and even optimistic at the advent of a new world in which social justice and intergenerational responsibilities, such as those that affect climate change, will form part of daily political action, and we will soon be able to forget the speculation and excesses that all mankind has suffered in the last few years.