Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Europe, History and (Ir)responsibility

March 29, 2011

Since the very start, Europe has been on the wrong side of the Arab uprisings.

Prospect Magazine raises the following question. Europe: on the wrong side of history?

My points:

  • Is Europe well prepared to restore order in Libya?
  • Is the EU well prepared to stabilise the unstable?
  • Is UK making a serious effort to lead the way proving that it still matters in the international scene?
  • Is France making an effort to prove that EU is not just a Franco-German diktat?
  • Is the British and French collective action in Libya a sign that EU is about rising ‘groups’ within the ‘Group’?
  • Does Europe has a solid history understanding (and memory)? (It is said that when you do not remember history, you tend to repeat the mistakes of the past…..)

Anarchism vs.Vandalism

March 29, 2011

I was in the West End Saturday night. I was scared, I felt insecure, lovely London’s centre was totally chaotic. Police, ambulances, demonstrators, music, noise, smashed windows, empty shops, sad banks…and the helicopter in the sky reminded of an ongoing action….the danger was still somewhere…

I read the news, I read the comments and reports and what attracted my attention was the interchangeable use of the terms ‘Anarchism’ and ‘Vandalism’. I agree, of course, that the quest of Alternatives is not reflected upon all the hostile actions that took place on Saturday but I am wondering: Since when has ‘Anarchism’ become a synonym for ‘Vandalism’?

R2P but how?

March 1, 2011
According to the Economist (latest issue February 26-March 4 2011) Europe must do more to support the Arab democracy, or, the struggle for Arab democracy. Should Europe, now, just now, express any kind of responsibility to protect and help the Arab struggles for freedom and democracy?
History repeats itself. R2P or the Responsibility to Protect raises so many questions about the How, Who, When to help and  how exactly to restore the order.
I don’t know if Europe can take such a responsibility now, it would be though a good chance for Lady Ashton to make her name more memorable.
But I think I am going to agree with Gideon Rachman in the FT today. The external assistance may help in short term. But in long term stability and peace  in the region should be chosen, determined and protected by ordinary citizens and not by outside powers.

short visit, shorter hope

March 1, 2011

I spent some days in Athens/Greece last week and -believe me- 5 days were enough to realise the disappointment of the people, the anger, the lack of hope, the need to react against a system that put Greece in an economic abyss. Needless to say that the most of the people I talked to, recognised the fact that all of ‘us’, each of us, somehow, contributed to this crisis.

I came to ask myself: ‘Is it more than an economic/political crisis? Is it about a Greek mentality crisis’?

According article in the Financial Times on Monday, 28th February (under the title ‘Greece’s struggles’):

Changing Greece’s mentalities and attitudes to the state is a task that will last an entire generation, beyond the political lifetime of George Papandreou, the prime minister.

So, is there any hope? I am afraid I am going to ask this question again and again in the future. Nevertheless, the FT article expressed a reserved but clear  optimism under one condition: that the Greek prime minister  soldiers on the reforms. (It continues also claiming that on his present record, he would deserve to win any forthcoming elections).

My mind welcomes the acceleration of the reforming process, my heart though -after my short visit- is torn by all the suffering I was able to spot…..


Egypt back online

February 3, 2011

Facebook and Twitter are now available and the four major Egyptian internet service providers are back in business‘ as BBC reports.

The ‘weapons’ are back, revolution can go on, the power of the Net turned out to be stronger than the ‘Power’ itself.

 

(Re)order Marxism

January 30, 2011

In these days that we certainly have moved ‘from the triumph of global capitalism to its crisis in barely a decade’, I am so looking forward to reading the book I just ordered: How to Change the World: Tales of Marx and Marxism by Eric Hobsbawn. Does he make a case for the need to read or re-read Karl Marx now? Let’s see……

The Greek tawrith

January 30, 2011

In the FT on Thursday, 27th January:

The rallies in the streets of Cairo this week did not only aim at the end of the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak, but the target was also the president in-waiting, his son Gamal‘.

For Egyptians, and many Arabs across the region, the trend towards tawrith – inherited rule – has long been considered the ultimate insult for societies aspiring to greater freedom‘.

And let’s travel a bit towards the North, not far from Egypt: what about the Greek tawrith? Just take a look on the names of the Prime Ministers in Greece, their family connections, their political backgrounds. A great example of hereditary democracy! The same names the same families for years! The tawrith is not only applied on the Arab nations and politics, it is actually what rules Greek politics for years.

 

Thinking or Doing?

January 29, 2011

Gideon Rachman asks in the FT of 25th January: ‘Where have all the thinkers gone?’

He is making an interesting discovery on the basis of this year’s list of the Foreign Policy magazine re the ‘Top 100 Global Thinkers‘  (of 2010).

He notices that the top ten in the list are quite more famous as doers (rather than thinkers).

‘…The 1861 rankings could have startd with Charles Darwin and John Stuart Mill….then you could include Karl Marx and Charles Dickens. And that was just the people living in and around London. In Russia, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky were both at work, although neither had yet published their greatest novels….’

After naming a few reasons that may account for the above difference between the thinkers of the past century and the doers of our days he concludes:

‘ ….there is a final possibility. That, for all its wealth and its gadgets, our generation is not quite as smart as it thinks it is’.

 

Probably Gideon Rachman is right. Probably we are less smart despite the tools we use to ‘make’ us smarter (i.e. smartphones?). Or, it is probably our epoch that requires us doing rather than thinking. If thinking is not reflected upon doing then what difference can it make? And, I believe, ‘doing’ has a taste, while ‘thinking’ may be just a nostalgia of a possible ‘doing’…..

 

Dear Egyptian government…

January 29, 2011

One of the main topics that attracted this week’s interest is the protest in Egypt against President Mubarak that followed similar protests in Tunisia. The fear for a domino effect in Middle East is not an unrealistic one. But, it seems that the new victim of those protests is the Internet connection, the ability of the people to be connected and to use the social media-necessary tools for the organization and mobilization of their actions.

The Net activities in Egypt started to be very problematic since last Tuesday with Facebook and Twitter and further mobile services non responsive, and the users in an effort to discover alternative connection mechanisms. Needless to say,  that the official government denied any responsibility at the very beginning.

Governments that claim that they promote free speech should know that nowadays by ‘free speech’ we mean ‘ being, talking, and acting online‘. Cutting down the online services is not about restoring order in a violent crackdown. The more immediate the response of a government re cutting down online services the higher the chance to be called authoritarian.

Dear governments: On line means also In line (with the contract signed between you and the people).

Now, Know: so what?

December 3, 2010

I am trying to figure out what the Wikileaks stand for:

  • W hat (an)
  • I rony!
  • K nowing (from)
  • I nside…
  • L ying (to)
  • E veryone…
  • A ttention (please):
  • K nowledge (for)
  • S ale!!!!

I just read an interesting article by Frank Furedi in which he argues that the revelations refer more to voyeurism rather than journalism. He states among others:

“…The only purpose of the leaks is to embarrass and to sow confusion. Superficially, the claim that the public has ‘a right to know’ sounds like an affirmation of the democratic ethos. But what does ‘the right to know’ mean? There is nothing enlightened or democratic about exposing informal deliberations between officials to public scrutiny. Most diplomatic exchanges involve the expression of provisional or incomplete opinions, rather than hard facts. The public does not have an intrinsic right to know how people find and assess and interpret information...”

What is the ‘right to know’? To know what? The ‘known’ or the ‘unknown’?. And what can make a difference? To know or to act on the basis of the knowledge? Knowledge requires action, otherwise it becomes sterilised, boring, pointless….But, in the political world, ‘discovering’ does not always mean ‘knowing’ what is going on, and ‘knowing’ does not necessarily lead to deliberation and reasoned debate.

Re Wikileaks, knowledge becomes dramatic exactly because it reaffirms the already existing assumption….the ‘possible’, the ‘might be’. It is not so dramatic after all, it just feeds our deep interest to find out how a well dressed man/woman looks when naked…(but we have already used our imagination…).