Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sad May 1st

May 1st is always a day of mixed feelings for me.

On one hand, I tremble thinking about the achievements of socialism and liberalism in the past 200 years and about empowered workers, actually previously slaves, marching and waving red flags - celebrating their dignity.
On the other hand, I think about the great failures, the wars that weren't prevented, the depths of terror to which red flags led and the great betrayal at the end of the 20th century.

I couldn't have for you my fellow readers a better example than the following.

Today a Spaniard friend talked with me about the economical situation in Spain. He started ranting about the situation, the crazy cut downs of the right wing government which is 'selling the country to the Germans'

A: Our government is demented. They are changing laws related to demonstrations expecting that during the summer Spain will burn with manifestations. I didn't expect the right wing government to be so much more radical than the already capitalist previous leftist government. They are handing the country to the Germans.
B: Why to the Germans?
A: Because all the terrible things are done at the request of the German banks.
B: I think you don't fully understand the Germans. Merkel really thinks that the south Europeans are irresponsible and need to learn a lesson.
A: Maybe. But the responsibility should be shared. Investors can't be immune to risk. They invest in Spanish banks and exposed themselves. Their gamble went wrong and instead of them coping with the results, the Spanish state is being sold part by part.
B: Well, that's what Spain (and others) did to Argentina years ago...and the Spanish left didn't even blink...
A: In fact the left here doesn't exist. It's a mere third way.
B: At least Germans are coherent.
A: The pace of changes is brutal. It will take here 2 years to destroy here the welfare state, the same kind of destruction that took you (Israel) 20 years.
B: I tell you again that the life of Argentinians was destroyed much faster, they didn't even have the support, even if virtual, of something like the EU or anyone in the world that could care that they were going down.
A: True. Many times I tell to my Argentinian acquaintances that their past is our future.
B: Other countries in the world were destroyed in months in civil wars and nobody cared. And the Spanish left...what did it do for the Greek people?

An important clarification. I truly believe that people and governments should be the first responsibles for their own deeds and not blame others. There is no redemption for a society which doesn't take responsibility and take bold steps to amend what's wrong internally. Whether the amendment should be brutal austerity or ultra-capitalist changes is debatable. Since economics isn't an exact science, there isn't one formula.

On the ideological level, people who didn't show any empathy and didn't reach out to others shouldn't be surprised when no one shows empathy and doesn't reach out to them.

The failure of the left is global. Instead of establishing a moral stand in hard times, it spent its time on other things and now when the bad times come to their step door people start whining. It didn't rally for people who lost everything, it didn't rally for millions of peoples massacred worldwide, it didn't manifest for human rights in dictatorships. It always opted for fashionable causes.

And no, my left wing party isn't any better.

Workers of the world, show compassion to others! (even when your own middle-class-stomach is full)

1 comment:

  1. You are utterly right. Indeed, these days are very appropiate for resurrecting an old-fashioned, demode term: solidarity. It is even more appropiate than compassion, because solidarity works between peers

    Such reborn solidarity would work in geographical steps: your surroundings, region, nation, etc. to the full globalized world. Every time that we adquire / consume a cheap item, specially a tech one such as a smartphone, tablet, etc., you are receiving the result of the explotation of Asian workers. Although we don't speak chinese, it is quite easy to realize the consequences of improving the work conditions of those who produce our items.

    Actually, improve their working conditions would include a significant decrease of our consuming level, which is not bad at all.

    Talking about Spain, you are right: it is not fair nor reasonable to wait for external solidarity for our problems. keeping apart a few volunteers, Greece didn't receive any actual solidarity from my fellow Spaniards. Indeed, nowadays Spaniards doesn't show any solidarity towards Marroquians, their southerner neighbours, with savage unemployment rates.

    We are alone, as a nation and as a set of communities. I guess that nobody is going to help us.

    But there are serious causal and moral disconnections here: German banks invest heavily on Spanish ones. Because the explosion of housing bubble put them close to default, Spanish State has to become thinner (although its debt was significantly lower than German or French, for instance). In order to protect German investments here, public programs such as AIDS protection for non-authorized immigrants are going to be suspended. In other words, several hundreds of AIDS patients are going to die for protecting German investments.

    I use the German example in the same sense as AIDS patients: as an illustration. Of course, this is not a German-Spanish problem whatsoever, although Germany should refresh its memory towards what she did with Europe half a century ago. Whatever. My main point is that causal and moral connections should be restored and improved, in order to sustain the reborn of solidarity. If some investors made investments that, instead of improve their results, failed miserabily, it's their problem. As investment is forcefully connected with risk, I find mandatory to maintain actual causal connection and accept the consequences of an investment which botched years ago.

    Societies and nations are not responsible of what a tiny number of their members do.