Democratic deficit

The problem – one of the problems – is that nobody quite knows how to solve this mess. On the one hand the European sanctions against Russia are bringing Europe to its knees. On the other hand, the entire world is completely unprepared for the meteorological disasters that are thrashing country after country in spite of serious warnings over a period of 40 years.

The powers that be – i.e. politicians of all colours, mainstream economists, financiers and major corporations have betrayed the rest of us. Social media and the press – from which public opinion takes its cue – have failed disastrously. The USA wants to pulverise Julian Assange for allegedly damaging US interests; but what about all the individuals and institutions who have effectively fanned global climate collapse?

Now, those of us who can still bear to read the news finally understand, and we want to contribute our bit, but how? By refraining from eating meat? Will that solve anything? Obviously, Liz Truss does not know. Nor does the Labour Party, I’m afraid, in the UK or anywhere else. All the leading political parties have swallowed the neo-liberal bullshit. (I refuse to apologise for using a word that is accurate.)

They have all put their faith in technology, commodification, an unfettered free market and – in the case of Europe, the EU. I will not deny EU achievements, such as a more than welcome rise in living standards in the poorest EU countries. On the other hand, the EU is a technocracy that arguably suffers from a Democratic deficit.

The EU is at war. The EU is fighting for the USA, for NATO, and we will all go down together, as Billy Joel sang with reference to the Vietnam war.

The Democratic deficit has become all the more glaring now that we see that we are headed for a very bad place. Europeans feel like cattle on the way to the slaughterhouse. Voting for somebody else will just get us more “business as usual”.

For example: Yes, we must cease to squander water and electricity, but does that warrant colossal price hikes on water and electricity? Wouldn’t rationing be a preferable option? I’m sure Liz Truss and her ilk can afford the price hikes. But for the majority of Europeans, it would be better to limit water and energy usage to a few hours a day than to turn us into street beggars.

All the other tremendous “climate” questions are elephants on the rampage. There are lots of people with lots and lots of expertise and knowledge, but they are not – it seems – asked, and far less heard. There are even economists who dispute the neo-liberal narrative (e.g. Thomas Piketty). The issues, ideas, suggestions are all there, hanging in the air, but they are not aired, not explained, not properly discussed. In short, we’ve been had. Unless we take matters into our own hands, we will all – Europeans, Africans, Americans and Asians – go down together, victims of cyclones, fires, food shortages, droughts, floods and – not least – poverty.

We look after ourselves and our families, assuming that governments look after society and the planet. It should be clear for all to see, at last, that they do no such thing. Governments look after themselves too. The system, in short, is not working.

Something entirely different is called for.