Thursday 3 March 2011

Whatever Happened to the Heroes?


Protests Grow in Greece, Portugal and Spain

Three killed as Greek austerity protest turns violent

Egypt protests escalate in Cairo,
Suez and other cities
The Middle East in crisis: Tens of thousands 
protest in Yemen 
Chaotic scenes in London as 
student protests return
30th Nov 2010

Since the greatest recession for generations, we've seen Irish PM Brian Cowen outline an "essential" deal with the IMF, whilst Spanish Prime Minister Jose Rodriguez Zapatero (first elected 2004), Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, (in government since 1981)  and Portugese Prime Minister Jose Socrates (First came to power in 2005) present grey, be-suited men to explain fiscal policy or austerity packages, tied with brown paper and string. 
First Mubarak (came to power 1981) , now Gaddafi (came to power 1969) refused calls to go, clinging doggedly to the old order. 
Berlusconi (first elected 1994) is still, well, Berlusconi - one could be forgiven for not realising there was any crisis at all other than the one constantly raging in his trousers. 

On Tuesday, Mervin King admitted he was "surprised people weren't more angry" with the bankers who caused the recession

Well Mr King, I think you just summed up the problem more astutely than you ever realised. People are angry. They're furious. Around the world, they are toppling leaders like nine pins. They are taking to their streets and refusing to go home. First Ben Ali in Tunisia, (came to power 1987) then Mubarak,  now Cowen have fallen. Gadaffi looks likely to be next.

Online, people are organising protests that speak for millions upon millions of people who are being asked to pay for the greed and incompetence of their political and business leaders. The problem isn't the people, it's the total failure of those in charge to realise - and address - a new order. 

Where are the heroes? Where are the charismatic new leaders with vision? 

The world is at a crossroads. The people can see solutions. The people know that radical changes need to happen, that the world must come together and think about things differently, yet at a time when the world is desperate for leaders who will stand with them, these establishment men, these long-term leaders still entrenched in their "Golden Age" mentality haven't realised that the world has changed so profoundly, it no longer needs yesterdays men; 20th Century men. 

To speak of revolution in the 90s seemed militant and unnecessary, yet in 2011, revolutions are taking place everywhere. Political leaders must shake off their fear of radical solutions because the world is leaving them behind. Opposition leaders no longer have the luxury of sticking to the centre ground like limpets, suggesting a penny less fiscal blah here and a year's more recovery blah there. The centre ground has gone, gobbled up by the credit crunch and the "squeezed middle" finds itself in exactly the same mess as the forgotten poor. The days of smug superiority, fostered by vote chasing politicians are no more. 

There needs to be change and its no longer just agitators or troublemakers calling for that change, it transcends class or creed. Egypt's uprising was as intellectual as it was universal, with doctors and lawyers and professors taking to the streets with cleaners and shopkeepers and mothers. Christian and Muslim, rich and poor - protest today means something entirely different to protest before the credit crunch. It has a validity not seen for decades.

There is a simple, stark choice facing us all. Status Quo or Innovation? More corruption, more control, more of the same or real change? Unless our opposition leaders move into this new reality, this chaotic violence engulfing the world will only grow. Now is not the time to be timid. 


  1. Are you aware of the venus project? Pretty interesting ideas... x

  2. It has surprised me that the British are taking all the cuts and price rises so quietly and even going so far as condemning the students who did protest. What happened to the people who went to the streets against poll tax? What happened to the people who took to the streets because of mass unemployment?
    Grumbling at home wont change a thing....

  3. Ooo, cheers for that Emma I had heard of it some time ago but it slipped under the radar eventually.

  4. Had a look at Venus (the project). Hope I may quote:
    SYNOPSIS - Zeitgeist: Moving Forward, by director Peter Joseph, is a feature length documentary work which will present a case for a needed transition out of the current socioeconomic monetary paradigm which governs the entire world society. This subject matter will transcend the issues of cultural relativism and traditional ideology and move to relate the core, empirical "life ground" attributes of human and social survival, extrapolating those immutable natural laws into a new sustainable social paradigm called a "Resource-Based Economy".

    Phew. Sometimes I have to admit I am just not up to it. This was such a time. That was just a 'synopsis' too!

  5. I have had several socio-economic courses in uni so I understand the model "language" being used. To break it down to layman's terms there's the Zeitgeist Movement video. It may not be 100% right, but I'd have to have my fingers in my ears singing LALALALALALALA as loud as possible to believe for a moment it is 100% wrong.

  6. Oh, a friend sent me the Zeitgeist DVD, but I didn't get around to watching it.
    Will try it after all....

  7. It has several things going for it in that it is not done via the approach of religious-spiritual awakening (which tends to make people run for the hills) but scientific and economic study of socio-economic forms. It is a model of living which is presented by a man who, quite honestly, is no less brilliant than Stephen Hawking.

    The main downside point to my view however, is that there is a rather glossed-over view when it comes to the infirm, disabled, and elderly which seems to say "Oh, they'll be cared for" but doesn't exactly explain how.

    From my own studies, I'd say the founder of the Venus Project is a very old fellow (93!). What will be telling is what happens when he passes away, as the others of the movement will end up re-interpreting his work and then evolving it in their own ways: either improving upon the model or (as is sadly often the case) corrupting it to suit their own agendas, splitting off into different groups and arguing amongst themselves as to who has the Truer Vision.

    Sorry, I think I've just socio-geeked....*cough*

  8. I am the geekiest of all geeks. Never apologise for geekiness to me!

    Fascinating in fact. Esp what you say about "or (as is sadly often the case) corrupting it to suit their own agendas, splitting off into different groups and arguing amongst themselves as to who has the Truer Vision."

    Just as with any political model. It's one of my justifications for tribalism. I trust Labour with policies I don't trust the Tories with. Not all mind you, lol

  9. If you haven't seen the new movie yet (it is VERY recent), do have a view of it. This is not done by a bunch of students working on their thesis papers but professors of economic models and socio-ecological/ study. Some of the best in their field, in face and would probably have any of the "all those people protesting the cuts don't understand economics!" spluttering to a halt. Pretty fascinating stuff (wish my profs had been half as interesting, really)