Monday, January 01, 2007

A Happy New Era?

Sticking with the theme of the direction of political and social thinking, Saddam’s dramatic end raises a bunch of issues. But unlike the previous piece on the reality of environmental degradation, this issue is more about the PR, the ‘smoke and mirrors’ of the current western paradigm.

The question has to be asked: How can western leaders fail to capitalize on the end of such a deserving enemy of social equity, of peace and freedom?

The short answer is easy; they drag their various offices – be it President of Prime Minister, down to the level of Saddam!

They simply have to treat human life and the aspirations of the people like last weeks fish scraps in the belief that sufficient people will accept their ‘wise’ leadership.

Headlines like: West must adjust, not retreat Execution a bitter moment, but humanity still needs intervention, are convincing fewer people when they are followed by more realistic revelations.

The fact that the execution of Saddam was carried out by, and celebrated by acknowledged opponents of the western dream (or at least the dream of western leaders) takes the punch out of the PR. It reveals the ‘smoke and mirrors’ for what they really are.

Government on ‘Madison Avenue’ principles is not good enough, and it never was.

The manipulated numbers game which constitutes our ‘democracies’ are not good enough and cannot be covered up forever by PR alone.

Sadly, ‘hip pocket’ economics is still the determining factor. Governments can rely on a good safety margin if the economics are right. But in their inflated image of self-importance, western governments invariably forget even that basic principle.

That, in turn, leads to the other dilemma of politics. Getting rid of one lot most often results in replacing them with more of the same. The system is rigged to ensure that outcome. The system, however it is measured, is stuck in a cyclic pattern of hope and failure.

It is that cycle which must be changed. The driving force is greed, defined perhaps by the 17th and 18th century paradigms. But surely it is time to get past them and deal with the issues of a very different world.

To be honest, I cannot see the way to break this cycle of political/economic grief. Unless ‘the people’ suddenly experience some sort of profound ‘road to Damascus’ there will be no real hope there.

There have been some good efforts in the past. Bill Clinton tried in my opinion. He focused the economics rather than adventurism, at least international adventurism. One of my all time favourites was New Zealand’s David Lange. He told the US, France and every other bully to piss off, and his tiny country still prospered; unlike now with the current government immersed in global economics.

I did not go through my list of worthies, but hope the general concept will suffice. Now the US has another potential champion to consider. With due respects to Hillary (or maybe Bill) I am very impressed by what I’m hearing of Barack Obama.

Obama will be up against the dominant political forces, and there is a question of colour, but the time has surely come. Of course, more to the point, he is up against those who have the power to thwart new ideas as well.

It is time to embrace a new approach, and the change must not be about race or gender. but about resolving some of the core issues confronting our societies. In the end great leadership is still a one man band. That is the hard part.


Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree with you more about the need to break the cycle of 'more of the same.' The only way to fix it is to MOP the system up - by taking the money out of politics (hmmm, that's MOOP isn't it - oh well, you get the idea).

Cartledge said...

I do get the idea :-) Taking money out of the electoral cycle only takes will, but the attempts usually get overtaken by the vested interest.
Taking it out of the legislature, the pork barreling etc is problematic. That would take a class of politicians who really were there to do a public service.
Still, the concept should be pushed long and hard.

Praguetwin said...

I'm dubious to the idea that Obama could really make much of a difference. That is if he could get elected.

I know we have come a long way since Brown vs. Board of Education, but I still think a black guy named "Obama" winning a presidential election is a stretch at best.

As a staunch Democrat said recently, "We have practically a gimmie in '08 and what are we going to do? Run a black guy and a chick! Morons!"

Cartledge said...

PT logically you are right, if nothing changes. On the other hand, if enough people are talking about such strange concepts as though they are quite normal they become normal.
But if race and gender are to remain major barriers the poor governance will also remain the accepted norm simply because we accept the anomalies as reality.

Praguetwin said...

Something will change, as it always does. But I fear (and hope) that that change will come painfully slow.


Cartledge said...

PT, if I didn't have some clue to how your mind works I would be confused. Yes, I can see where you are coming from.
I still believe that gradual or otherwise we need to keep talking equity, making the issue normal.

Praguetwin said...

Yep, you are right. It is hard to drive that point home without being labled a communist or someone calling for class war.

Marx said that communism would take hold after capitalism ran it's full course. We still have a way to go.