The West Vote for a Better Yesterday

Human Wrongs Watch


Rome, 31 October 2015

The recent elections in Switzerland and Poland are good indicators of what will happen elsewhere in Europe, with this irresistible growing wave of refugees. But let us first make some crucial considerations.

Roberto Savio

Roberto Savio

The first is that the present system of international relations and national governance is not functioning any longer. We are in a period of transition, but nobody knows to where. The left is without a manifesto, and the right is just riding the status quo. There is no long term political thinking.

Second, we are in a “new economy,” based on the supremacy of finance over man’s production.

Unelected officials, like governors of central banks and bankers, have increasingly more power than before.

This “new economy” considers precarious jobs as natural, social inequality as a legitimate reality, the market as the sole basis for societal development and the state as inefficient and a brake to the private sector.

The third,is that political institutions have lost their gloss. No political party has any longer a real youth movement. They are perceived more and more as self referent, considering citizens just as an electorate, and they are seen as more part of the system in power than spokespersons for their citizens.

The cost of politics (and corruption) is growing year by year. The coming elections in the US will cost over 4 billion dollars, and until now just 145 donors have paid for more than 50 per cent of the of the electoral campaign.

According to the London School of Economics, the cost of electoral campaigns in Europe has increased by 47 per cent in the last decade. In other words, many consider that we live now in a democracy that is turning into a plutocracy. And Hungary is openly advocating for a autocratic democracy, like Singapore and China, and getting away with it.

The fourth is that multilateralism is in crisis. The US has stopped ratifying any international treaties, from the Right of the Children to the Law of the Sea. The United Nations has been marginalized.

The regional organizations, like the African Union, ASEAN or the Organization of American States, are notoriously toothless. And the European Union is going from an existential crisis on the euro (Greece), into a more serious one, the refugees.

The United Kingdom is leading a charge for devolution of powers from Brussels that will create a precedent that others will invoke, Hungary and Poland first.

If those considerations are considered valid, then it is not difficult to understand that the European electorates are voting on the basis of political nostalgia and lack of security. In front of an uncertain future, the dream to go back to a better past is strong.

Both the Swiss and Polish elections rewarded the party which wanted to defend the national identity against foreigners, especially Muslim, and the national religious traditions against the European values of sexual liberty, gays marriage, free abortion and decaying lifestyles.

The polish case is emblematic. Poland has been one of the greatest recipient of EU aid. East Europe did join the EU to get funds and support, but without any intention to give anything in exchange, as the refusal to accept any immigrant has made clear…

Both the Swiss and Polish elections rewarded the party which wanted to defend the national identity against foreigners, especially Muslim, and defend religion against the European values of sexual liberty, gays marriage, free abortion and decaying lifestyles.

It is worth remembering that until the financial crisis of 2007, xenophobic and rightwing parties were marginal political entities in almost all of Europe. In a short time, they have become important players all over Europe, even in countries known for their civic sense and tolerance, like Netherlands and the Nordic countries.

What bring votes to a xenophobic, right wing and anti-Europe party is the dream to go back to a secure and orderly past.

Voters do not want to vote for an uncertain future: they find it more reassuring to vote for a time in which politics where national, there was not a faceless bureaucracy in Brussels dictating how to pack tomatoes, and a supranational currency, the euro, manoeuvred by unelected powerful bankers in Frankfurt, with a hegemonic Germany dictating other countries.

It is also worth remembering that a large segment of European citizens has yet to recover the quality of life it had before 2007. and that young people pay a disproportionate cost for a crisis originated by the finance.

The dream of returning to the past is also the reason for the creation in US of the radical wing of the Republican Party, known as the Tea Party, and the victory of Justin Trudeau in Canada. And while the West has a golden recent age on which to dream, in the Global South nationalism, a twin of political nostalgia, is on the rise.

But for the West, there is a problem. There are now 60 million refugees, and in this figure there are not those who escape sex persecutions, like gays in Africa, or woman from Boko Haram in Nigeria. Migrants is a term much more representative of the reality than refugees, which are for Europe those who escape from clearly recognized conflicts. Demography is clear. Africa is going to become one billion people by 2030, and Europe would lose at least 15 million people by then.

The Europe we know – homogenous, white, Christian and tolerant – is going to disappear. But it will not be without lot of suffering. The US has become a multicultural and multiethnic country in over a century ago.

According to the records of the most important entry points, Ellis Island in New York, 9 million Irish, Germans, Austrians and Scandinavians entered the country in the steamboat times, with more than 8 million Poles, Bulgarians, Rumanians, Hungarians, Russians and Baltics, and more than 5 million Italians and Greeks.

In a few decades, a total of 22.5 million Europeans became Americans. Europe is not ready even to do a tenth of this.

*Roberto Savio is the founder and former Director-General of international news agency Inter Press Service (IPS).

In recent years he has also founded Other News, a service providing ‘information that markets eliminate’.

Roberto Savio:

The author has granted permission to Human Wrongs Watch to publish his article. 

Other articles by Roberto Savio in Human Wrongs Watch:

From European Union to Just a Common Market

The Sad Decline of Democracy

Europe’s Beams Are Collapsing

Misinformation Hides Real Dimension of Greek “Bailout”

The Kiss of Death for the Original European Dream

The Hidden Truth Behind the Greek Drama

Greece – A Sad Story of the European Establishment

Immigration, Myths and the Irresponsibility of Europe

Voracious Finance Growing Like a Cancer

The Crisis of the Left and the Decline of Europe and the United States

My meeting with El Che

The West and Its Self-Assumed Right to Intervene

A Guide to the Religious Conflict in the Arab World

Blissful Ignorance Makes the West Slide into Mishaps

Pillar of Neoliberal Thinking Is Vacillating

It Should Be Clear What to Expect from the World Social Forum

Foreign Policy Is in the Hands of Sleepwalkers

What if Youth Now Fight for Social Change, But From the Right?

The Exceptional Destiny of U.S. Foreign Policy

Climate Change: Governments Say All the Right Things But Do Exactly the Opposite

The ‘Acapulco Paradox’

Global Governance and Common Values: the Unavoidable Debate

Of Banks, Inequality and Citizens

The Paris Killings – A Fatal Trap for Europe

Ten Major Handicaps Facing 2015 

The Sad Future of Our Planet

Europe Has Lost Its Compass

The Suicide of Europe

The Steady Decline of Social Europe

The “Incestuous Relations” Between Governments and Energy Corporations

Four Key Reasons to Understand the Irresistible Attraction of Radical Islam

Europe Is Positioning Itself Outside World Arena

Planet Racing Towards Catastrophe and Politics Just Looking On

OP-ED: International Relations, the U.N. and Inter Press Service

Ever Wondered Why the World is a Mess?

Economic Growth Is Anything But “A Rising Tide Lifting All Boats”

Banks, Financial Institutions and Citizens — The Urgent Need to Update the Seven Deadly Sins

The Decline of the Middle Class

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The Free Market Fundamentalists Are Now in Europe

The ‘European Dream’ Going the Way of the ‘American Dream’

Thatcher, Reagan and Their “Revolutions”

Cyprus: Do You Understand What Has Really Happened?

Hugo Chávez’s legacy to Latin America

“The Tide Is Growing, But The System Does Not Realise It”

The Palestine Drama, Public Theories and Hidden Realities

China Opening a Confrontation on the Sea

After Two Lost Decades, Japan Went to Sleep

Japan – Ethics, Democracy, Growth

China, Japan Brewing a Serious Conflict

A Personal Experience with the American Justice System

Finance’s Ethics: a Leap into the Past

Banks and Politics Do Not Mix Well

2015 Human Wrongs Watch

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