"A statesman should move beneath heaven as if he were placed above it."

Posts tagged ‘political leadership’

Democracy Being a Free Good Endangers its Existence

By Con George-Kotzabasis

Breathing democratic freedom is neither easy nor free; it entails both rights and obligations and most importantly knowledge of current fundamental issues. But in most democracies their constituents tend to uphold and demand more their rights than their obligations, and more deplorably, a sizable number of them exercise their rights in a state of ignorance. This imbalance, however, between rights and obligations, as well as lack of knowledge of the real issues, puts in jeopardy the functioning of a politically just and economically productive democracy, and indeed endangers its existence as a form of government.

Moreover, it makes its voters who are uninformed of the points at issue captive to populist slogans and to that everlasting traducer of democracy, identified by Aristotle, demagogy, that appeals to the hopes and fears of the electors and by propagandistic lies and false promises opens the doors of power to demagogues. This is exemplified by two recent political events in our times: Alexis Tsipras and his party of Syriza winning the elections in Greece on a wave of populism and unprecedented lies and false promises in the political history of the country, and of the plebiscite of the UK, whose two leaders of Brexit, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, with a farrago of lies and dire fictions were able to hoodwink a major part of the populace to vote for the exit of Britain from the European Union. On a smaller scale this also has happened in the Australian elections, when the Labor Party by its scare campaign that the Liberal Coalition would privatize Medicare, succeeded in convincing a large part of the electorate of this fictitious threat with the result of Liberals losing so many seats that brought the country on the edge of a hang parliament.

How can one remedy the weaknesses of democracy and protect its constituents from becoming victims to populism and to demagogy with catastrophic results to the well-being of society and to its continued economic prosperity? Some people believe that the answer lies in bringing cultural and ethical changes among the people that would make them immune to this toxic virus of populist-demagogy; and thus leading gradually to the cashiering and inexorable dismissal of all demagogic and populist leaders from the domain of politics. The difficulty and danger of such a solution however is that cultural change is a slow process and during its gestation and vicissitudes in a long run may in the meantime unhinge democracy from its door of freedom, by the actions of feckless, inept, and irresponsible politicians, and incarcerate it within the dungeon of dictatorship. A safer and faster solution would be to enact radical changes to the electoral voting system by suspending in certain circumstances temporarily parts of the electorate from voting.

On what principle could one suggest such an unequal voting system that would discriminate so deliberately between social groups in the ambience of democracy, and which group would be the unequal part in the democratic process? The guiding principle of the first part of the question must explicitly aim to the continued viability and stability of a democratic system, in the context of which, the economic well-being of society depends and guarantees the further expansion of wealth that renders to the people a wide choice where to employ their talents and skills that would push their living standard onto higher plateaus and make their lives congenial to their desires. The second part, i.e., the social group that would be unequally treated, would be identified as that part that depends on welfare for its living and as a ‘debtor’ client of the government easily succumbs to populist slogans and rabble rousing; also, due to its low educational level and lack of interest in important matters, it deprives it from having adequate knowledge of the issues involved and hence is completely unqualified to make a sober judgment on these issues. It is mainly this social group that brings to power demagogues and millenarian ideologues that imperil the stability of the polity and its economic system. And, indeed, ironically pits this same social group into absolute poverty, and in turn destabilizes democracy itself, as it has happened with the political rise of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela; where its people after a contrived false prosperity are presently hunting dogs and cats to feed themselves. The same has happened with the Marxist Alexis Tsipras in Greece, where the pauperization of many of its ordinary people is exacerbated every day and has reached unprecedented high levels under his totally inept, ideologically barren and irresponsible government.

The enactment of this radical legislation would specifically suspend from the right to vote any person who had been on social welfare or unemployed for more than a year, and only with his/her ceasing on being on welfare or unemployed his/her right to vote would be restored. Such legislation would not only strengthen and secure the viability of democracy and the prosperity of its economic system, but would also deprive populist demagogues and political parties of a constituency upon whose existence they depend. Moreover, it would substantially reduce the spending of the welfare state and make it less precarious to the fiscal policy of the state and hence to the well-being of the country. This radical enactment takes a leaf from the cradle of democracy in classical Greece, Athenian democracy. The latter disenfranchised and suspended from voting citizens who had failed to pay a debt to the polis. Likewise, in a modern democracy people who were in debt for their living to the government, that is on welfare, would be suspended from casting a vote.

Needless to say, such a radical proposal, to occur in the ambit of the ‘spoils’ of the welfare state that has spoiled at least two generations of people by our carefree and stand at ease democracy, will not be easy to implement as it will rouse all the wrath and opposition of the ‘progressive’ bien pensants and the ‘good fellows’ of the dole. It will require extraordinarily strong and sagacious political leadership that will unite parliamentary opposition parties into a gigantic wave that relentlessly will sweep away this ‘progressivist’ praetorian guard of the human rights, without responsibilities, of the dole takers, and throw this defiance of the sanctimonious goody-goodies into the dust bin of history.

I rest on my oars: Your turn now

 

 

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The Samaras Government and the Frivolous Populist Chattering of the Media Harlots

By Con George-Kotzabasis August 20, 2014

The Greek economic crisis has brought on its heels a moral and intellectual crisis and “prostitution” of its media. The Fourth Estate in Greece has been transformed into a “red-light” district where a populist seraglio of colorful journalistic harlots has assembled to hustle their “quickies.” Only with few exceptions, such as Babis Papadimitriou, whose analyses of current economic events in Greece are illustriously admirable and an example for imitation, most of the media spoke persons and journalists in Greece are wallowing in the putrid waters of populism and from that position are publishing their disheartening, gloomy, and misleading comments about the economic and political situation of the country. But while it is easy to please and mislead the hoi polloi it will not be easy for these commentators to erase the mark of shame that they have self-inflicted upon themselves and their intellectual integrity.

To the incomparable achievements of the Samaras government in restructuring the economy, making it more competitive and freeing it from the dead weight of the public sector–which was a major cause that had brought Greece to the precipice of default and its citizens close to absolute poverty–that were the prerequisites for keeping the country within the European Union and with the latter’s financial help saving it from economic collapse that would have thrown its people, for at least a generation, into the hungry fangs of poverty, the Greek media, almost in toto, has not emitted one word of praise toward this remarkable performance of the government.

This accomplishment is unprecedented in the history of nations, that in a short period of two years any political leadership was able to accomplish and salvage their countries from bankruptcy. The Greek media, however, did not make one twit about this great accomplishment. On the contrary, it criticized the government, and often condemned it, of being responsible for the immiseration and economic suffering of its people, and of being the puppet of the European political elite, especially Chancellor Merkel of Germany. In a chorus of tragicomedy its commentators reproached and blamed the coalition of the Samaras government for accepting and implementing the austere policies of the second Memorandum, that were imposed by the European Commission as a condition for Greece’s continued financial assistance by the former, as being the cause of the calamitous economic blight that has scourged a major part of the population in the last two years. However in this prejudiced and populist castigation of the government by the media analysts, they studiously ignored the fact that the real culprits for this economic disaster were the leaders of past governments who had created a false and unsustainable economic prosperity, fuelled by loans and debts and passing the latter to future generations, and by creating a gargantuan flabby and totally inefficient public sector for the purpose of ensconcing their political clientele in leisurely unproductive jobs at the expense of the public purse. Hence, it was not the Memorandum that had brought the economic crisis and the level of unemployment to stratospheric heights, but the imprudent and foolhardy policies of past governments that led the country to the brink of insolvency that had brought the Memorandum with its inevitably austere remedies, and just as inevitably some errors in its policies, but which were tragically essential for Greece’s economic recovery. As is often the case throughout history, nations and men/women in great dangers can only be saved by the most severe measures.

The Samaras government did not flinch before this formidable responsibility and carried this hard task with the characteristic moral strength and intellectual astuteness of its leader. It surmounted the mountainous populist waves that a petty and completely incompetent, and by now, a historically obsolete amalgam of ex-communists and socialists, who compose the Opposition, Syriza, stirred among the populace with the aim to get rid of the government. And despite the fact it had the unions and its strikes on its side and using them as a battering-ram to overthrow the government, nor the fact that the media in general took a neutral stand and did not decry this disgraceful and dangerous action of the Opposition that would lead to the political destabilization of the country and would put in jeopardy all the successes of the government in pulling the country out of the crisis, the Opposition failed ignominiously in its goal.

Antonis Samaras, like Theseus, is finding Greece’s way out of the labyrinth of its economic crisis while the Greek media inexorably demeans itself by polluting its readers and viewers in a rancid flood of populist biased misleading comments and information, that puts the great accomplishments of the government and its exit from the crisis at an immense menacing risk.

I rest on my oars:Your turn now!