Sunday, October 16, 2011

Socialism now?

The movement that started in New York and is called somewhat imprecisely Occupy Wall Street made me think about a talk I listened to in 2010. At that time the possibility of social unrest in the States was discussed but the majority in the audience considered that traditional American values will detain people from demonstrating against the over boarding capitalist system.

In the context of the NY demonstrations Nobelprize winner Joseph Stiglitz had coined the following expression on American Inequality: Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% referring to the distribution of wealth in the States. However, going back to Lincoln’s original Gettysburg address: A government of the people, by the people and for the people  NYT-blogger Bernard E. Harcourt  claims that social inequality frequently quoted is not the main reason for those protests. It is rather the misgiving about the way we are governed turning into political disobedience. In fact, the NY protests unite people demonstrating against the financial system, those demanding a greener America, long time workless and young educated people unable to find jobs and many others.

One of those many 99% persons in Sidney
During the weekend people around the globe occupied parts of Sidney, Tokyo, Madrid, Rome, Los Angeles, the place in front of the Reichstag in Berlin, and many other cities. Men and women in the street feel that in spite of existing democratic structures they are badly governed. It is long known that most politicians are incompetent and their unique interest is to be reelected.

Adam and Eve in front of the Reichstag in Berlin
Now we see those few we up to now considered to govern us swimming helplessly in a sea infested with financial sharks. While banks - some subsidized with taxpayers' money - still pay ample bonuses to their CEOs, governments around the globe try hard to squeeze down on expenses thus killing jobs and the economy like in the case of Greece.

Occupy LA protesters:
Will taxation of the Rich be the solution? 

Populist statements across the Atlantic that the others should do their homework don't solve the financial crisis. These remarks only show how helpless governments are in dealing with the problem. Are we too severe with our leaders when even financial gurus see no solution for the present situation? Still government officials claim that they are able to bail out the existing system and this without hurting their electors.

However, people are not dumb. They are full of apprehension mixed with angst for their future articulating their mistrust in our democratic structures that so far had been unable to act in the interest of Joe Public. In what kind of society are we living?

Slogans shown in Frankfurt read: Ihr verzockt unsere Zukunft (You are gambling our future) and Schranken für Banken (Barriers for the banks). Will those protests help? I doubt. Goethe once wrote in Faust: Benefit depends on the money, but urges all (Am Golde hängt, zum Golde drängt doch alles).

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