A Spectre Is Haunting Europe: The People Won't Listen!

The Presidential elections in France and the general elections in Greece are seismic events, which have significance way beyond the characters involved. After three years of austerity programmes throughout Europe characterised by billions of Euros worth of public money redirected towards protecting bankers and speculators who indulged in an orgy of reckless bond buying, people are simply defying an elite consensus.

This consensus brought together all the politicians, economists and media pundits who simply stigmatised the Greeks as lazy tax dodgers, railed against the “wasteful” expenditure on public services and declared that belt-tightening to satisfy the markets is the only sane thing to do.

Einstein once defined madness as doing the same thing over and over again…and expecting different results.

Read more: A Spectre Is Haunting Europe: The People Won't Listen!

Venezuela and the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’: Beacon of hope or smoke and mirrors?

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For many people on the left, within and outside of Southern Africa, the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’ is seen as a beacon of socialist hope in a sea of capitalist despair [1]. The reason why many leftists feel so strongly attached to this project, and promote it as an alternative, is because they have come to view it as a move by the Venezuelan state towards creating a genuine, free form of socialism [2] or at the very least an experiment that profoundly breaks with the tenets of neo-liberalism [3] [4]. Many articles have, therefore, been written lauding the state’s nationalisation of some industries [5], its land distribution programmes [6], and its attempts to supposedly create participatory democracy in workplaces (through co-management and co-operatives) [7] and in communities (through community councils) [8]. Linked to this, a great deal has also been made of the state using some of revenue generated by the Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) to roll out social services such as education, subsidised foodstuffs and healthcare [9]. Much ink has, consequently, been spilt arguing that all of these are socialist inspired moves and passionate calls have been made for other states, like the South African state, to adopt Venezuelan style ‘Socialism for the Twenty First Century’ [10].

Read more: Venezuela and the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’: Beacon of hope or smoke and mirrors?

Time to Gatecrash the (ANC) Party: It's the 'Politics' Stupid

There is a very cynical, old apartheid era joke about English-speaking whites in South Africa to the effect that, ”Most supported the Progs (Helen Suzman’s old Progressive Party); voted UP (the old United Party of De Villiers Graaf) … and thanked God for the Nats”.

Meaning that it was okay to be disgusted by the racism and repression, but hell those Afrikaners knew how to run the economy -- and they kept everything functioning nicely.

With the exception of the everything functioning “nicely” part, one is reminded of mainstream responses to two recent events: Pravin Gordhan’s Budget, which received plaudits from everyone from the business media on one hand, to the SACP on the other, and Jeff Radebe’s judicial review that is seen by the same mainstream, as further proof that the ANC is attacking democracy.    

Read more: Time to Gatecrash the (ANC) Party: It's the 'Politics' Stupid

The Threat to Democracy Can Also Come from Other Quarters

Zapiro22NovemberFirst they came for Papandreou - and I didn't speak out because I thought the Greeks are just lazy tax-dodgers.


Then they came for Berlusconi - and I didn't speak out because I thought he was just a racist and sexist old roué.

Then they came for Zuma - and I didn't speak out because he can’t apply his mind, and he’s still running the show.

Then they took away my vote - and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Some may feel that it may be a stretching it a bit to compare Pastor Martin Niemöller’s heartfelt reminder of the insidious way we can become complicit with fascism with the growing way we are invited to disdain democracy under the cover of exposing venal politicians, but recent events in the European Union (EU) tell us otherwise. And these threats also have resonance here in South Africa.

Read more: The Threat to Democracy Can Also Come from Other Quarters

A Chronology of Copping Out, COP 17: Durban November 2011- What's the Fuss?

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From being seen as a fringe concern to radicals only, and either dismissed outright or pushed to the margins by politicians and industrialists, over the last 50 years “global warming” has became accepted as a major concern to the welfare of the planet’s future. As acknowledgment of the environmental problems caused by ‘business as usual’ increases, calls to change the rules of the game and the ways we relate to each other and the planet, are vehemently opposed by those with power.  The chances of a global agreement to deal with climate change, are on the decline.

Read more: A Chronology of Copping Out, COP 17: Durban November 2011- What's the Fuss?

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