Sep 28, 2012

Recent thoughts about money, power and politics

Recent history has shown some pretty bad things happen to countries who have not obeyed the will of the economically fittest or most intimidating. We also know as a historical fact how power usually corrupts and blinds those who get their heads crowned - wrongfully or not. Niccoló Macchiavelli introduced to us in 1500s a new form of leadership in which "the ends justified the means"; rulers were to abandon moral integrity in order to gain success and stabilize power. This meant that there were no moral rules to value because morality was something to keep apart from politics. 500 years later Macchiavellian methods still exist despite our efforts to keep the game fair. It is pure vanity to think that modern politics is something to keep separate from drives of power, money and affluence. Politics are not merely means to promote the commonalty good but the good of some small elite.   

In 1900s Latin-America the people was fiercely plunged under a foreign control against their own free saying. This same happened in Indonesia and even in China, where people have not been granted full "western" human rights ever since. Indonesia should be a prosperous country with plenty of natural resources, but as we know private corporations have taken them all from the hands of the people. This happened fairly quickly when West-favored General Suharto took the lead and showed the country a new road to economic growth and welfare. Capitalism took over Indonesia. Today many enjoy the fruits brought up by the fat decades 1970-1990s, made possible by drastic "liberal" measures in economics. Unfortunately the wealth is everything but equally shared. I have visited Indonesia's poorer parts and the sight is usually devastating.    

The same sudden development  from sosialism to Free Markets took place in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia where some people were totally unaware what happened in their countries besides that many lost their jobs and became economically enslaved by foreign financial forces. Masses were shocked and paralyzed and after they had recovered their normal state it was too late to undo changes executed by those wanting to make profit and hail free markets as a way to altruistic prosperity. All this happened with a silent mandate from government(s) hoping to gain something out of the process. Capitalism has brought good, there is no doubt about that. The way it has been immorally implemented shows that the masses have had in the past little to say about their own national political affairs. And if they try to make a noise there are always ways to silence people´s voice by force or strategic maneuvers which will crush the opposition (usually these methods have been highly unethical and kept secrets). Luckily we have moved on since 1970s and produced new and more open ways to control these grievances, like the Internet (Wikileaks e.g). As we have also witnessed,  this kind of transparency is understandably opposed by those who not wish to be highlighted as "baddies".  

Now in many arabic countries newly formed governments have had challenging times in balancing new democracies. I bet that also in these scenarios economic issues play a big role whether peace, stability and mutual consensus between different groups of people is really reachable. I can totally understand why people resist Americans. USA is usually causing trouble and offering solutions at the same time. These new democracies will have to adapt and seriously consider what kind of freedom and democracy is worth all lost lives. Does freedom and democracy mean economic dependence and debt slavery or does it mean a society based on real communal values and shared responsibility?    

Change is to a high extent  much about courage and taking initiative. Change can also be seen as a selection of alternatives. Also in Finland many people don´t pay attention to what kind of mechanisms uphold their current lives. They are not interested in politics which makes democracy totally useless. And why should they be interested as Finnish politics seem to be a puppet show. Here politics appears to be a charade played by actors with  no improvising skills. We have a group of parties representing a silent consensus - and we lack the true opposition with alternatives. This is of course in some relation to a recent development where power and the nations right to self-determination has been given away to faceless institutions, such as banks and finance corporations.  

Freedom is very often nothing more than an illusion well maintained. Our lifeforms are something taken for granted. Many don´t know how the monetary system works and what kind of consequences it causes to us normal citizens, if the system  has flaws. This is a not only a sign of ignorance but also a sign of stupidity. How can we hold on to our rights, if we don´t ask questions and doubt answers given to us? At least we should be interested because time after our own will be affected by choices made now.    


1 comment:

  1. I think it's good to somehow (at least analytically) separate between national politics and international politics (of course in Europe we currently face the question of "federal" politics). The mechanisms of national politics are fairly simple. There is a mess of different objectives and motivations (yes, I think there are alternatives). Political parties channel these objectives and motivations somewhat systematically. The politicians are elected, which means that they _do_ have to conform to the voters' opinions or lose their position, as far as the voters are aware of the decisions they make. And I think it's fair to say that some politicians are more interested in common good than others (who might be interested in the good of a certain interest group, e.g. corporations and investors or workers or the unemployed). But it's also good to notice that "the common good" is sometimes in line with the good of a more limited group. Left-wingers tend to think that helping the workers actually benefits common good, as right-wingers might think that free enterprise does.

    You are however right to point out that the conditions to do national politics are often set from the outside. That's where diplomacy, treaties and global capitalism plays a much bigger role. There are no democratic structures to balance this. The "oppressed masses" or the "proletariat" of today are not in Western countries. Even without democratic structures like those in nation-states, there could be something like a globally organized labour movement.

    If you long for more radical alternatives than today's politicians have to offer, I think you should be building a citizens' movement more than blaming the politicians. They are just as good as we deserve. But of course, blaming the politicians can be a part of building a citizens' movement. :)