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Greek Election: the limitations of today's 'Democracy' and the feeding of Fascism?

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Greek Election Rally by Shmoo Mentality

Greek Election: the limitations of today's 'Democracy' and the feeding of Fascism?
By Ritt Goldstein

The storms of so-called 'economic reform and austerity' have swept our global landscape, the far-right growing to new heights with the toxic precipitation these storms brought, Fascism's supposedly long dead seeds thriving in the nourishment of a malignant climate. But what of society's genuine populists, our Left, our champions of social justice and all that's right.

Days ago I read Rob Kall's renunciation of his Democratic Party affiliation, and today I read an Al Jazeera piece on Greece's election that's titled,  'If elections could change things, they'd be illegal '.   This article title is an old Anarchist slogan, a slogan that seems to be proving increasingly true, with the following article excerpt directed at the Greek Left:

While hundreds of thousands surround the parliament to protest what they see as a constitutional coup d'etat by the ruling elite, both parties keep their MPs inside, effectively contributing to the redressing of a regime of open violence as "political dialogue".

While workers and pensioners throughout the country are deprived of basic means for survival, both parties ask them to be patient and make sure they do not die until May 6.

While fascist groups chase defenceless immigrants in open daylight, both parties mobilise their supporters mostly - if not solely - towards their respective election campaigns.

The foremost interests of too many political leaders are 'their own', the political process seducing them into putting political power before the interests of their people. 

To be clear, I staunchly believe in Democracy and am a Progressive, but I also believe that public opinion can and has been repeatedly and shamelessly manufactured, the electorate too often simply led as sheep instead of dutifully educated as responsible citizens, including as to what the genuine duties of political leadership are.   I won't point out to whose benefit such circumstances play, anyone reading much news already well aware of the exploding societal injustice and inequality ongoing, mass numbers of us already having first-hand experience of this.   But is the question truly one of Democracy's death, or rather that of the death of the societal bonds that once allowed genuine Democracy to flourish?

It was 2004 when I interviewed a political scientist from Penn State, Stephen Cimbala, with him astutely observing at the time that: "In those days when the Constitution was written, we depended on the good-faith of a democratic-minded aristocracy to make it work... all constitutions are fundamentally rested not upon law, but on a shared political faith...should that shared political faith break apart, not all the courts and all the laws can bring it back."

Today, the genuine interests of 'we, the people' are effectively hidden behind empty facades of glorious sounding political rhetoric, many voters too often resembling football fans in their passionate support for indeed a once noble process, a process that's descended into little more than a 'political game'.   As such, it should be of little surprise that the best possible outcomes from this too often afford little more than the fleeting satisfaction that comes of ones team's victory, with the desperately vital interests of 'we, the people' being meanwhile successfully ignored and forgotten in the seductive distractions and spectacle of the event.   But like most any good show, there's a price, and we daily read of it - a shattered 'middle class'; massive lay-offs and underemployment;   grinding poverty; skyrocketed income disparity; and increasingly, a society of the people, but by and for an elite.

The governance of a country is not a game, though the game of 'divide and rule' has succeeded in breaking 'we, the people' into camps where we spend our energy and diminishing assets fighting each other instead of those that truly threaten us.   The 'shared political faith' Cimbala spoke of broke long ago, the multitude wounded and killed in the ongoing (though often denied) 'class-war' providing glaring testament to this.

Today, most of our political leaders are interested in 'politics', politics as a 'glorious and lucrative process', but one that's proving itself increasingly irrelevant in finding genuine solutions.   If Democracy is not to die, if Fascism is not to be the legacy that we are daily creating, then circumstances demand that 'we, the people' demand that 'the show cannot go on'.   Genuine efforts and structures for 'social justice' must replace it, replace the so very much that has been taken from the so very many and given to the so very few... the meaning of Democracy not least among this.   

Copyright May 2012    

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I am an American investigative political journalist living in Sweden, and have lived in Sweden since July 1997. My work has appeared fairly widely, including in America's Christian Science Monitor, Spain's El Mundo, Sweden's Aftonbladet, Austria's (more...)
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