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REPUBLICAN PARTY NEWSLETTER
For a Civic and Constitutional Republic
Issue No 82 Sunday 16 October 2011
Highlighting news stories important to the Civic Republican view, particularly those that are overlooked or little covered in the main media.
THE GREAT CRISIS
Peter Kellow writes
Today’s headlines read: Occupy Wall Street: Protests Spread Around the World. And some of us might reply: And About Time Too!
One of the unspoken mysteries about the Great Crisis that started in 2008 is that, apart from the hard hit Greeks, the general population practically world wide, and certainly in Britain, has been amazingly compliant and accepting of the enormous price they are being expected to pay to save the skins of these companies we call the banks. The coalition policy of austerity, we are told, enjoys wide public support.
No government has questioned the fundamental position of the private speculative banks within our economies. They continue to try to deal with the crisis with the economic tools provided by a proven defunct economic model. In Britain the coalition is no exception.
But public support must be waning as the world situation becomes even more dangerous and different from what we have ever seen before. The “Occupy” demonstrations may be the first signs of a movement to demand radical change. All the main parties, of course, oppose their demands.
We might be relieved and a little excited that at last a lot of people everywhere are prepared to show they can no longer be kicked around and their livelihoods and futures used as bailout fodder for the banks.
The banks are international companies and this is partly what accounts for the grip they have over national governments. If you are David Cameron you govern Britain. But if you are a bank you have a global reach that makes national governments seem puny by comparison. The Cameron’s of this world quake in fear of private global speculative banks.
That is why it is so appropriate that the demonstrations are turning global. Whereas governments only have power within the nation, the people can create an international movement to parallel the banks’ international operations. The comparison with the Arab Spring is apt, for that showed so well how in the world we now live contagion of ideas and movements can happen with astonishing speed and effectiveness. In the 1960s Marshall McLuhan prophesied that technology was propelling us towards a “global village”. The people have assimilated the truth of this way before the political classes.
“Occupy” is the word used for the events that are unfolding and with good reason. When the democratic process fails the people, as it is so evidently doing now, there is only one recourse left – to take to the streets. The streets belong to everyone. It is our democratic right to occupy them. The right to peaceful demonstration is as much a part of our democracy as the right to vote. It is the safety valve open to the people when all else has failed. When the democratic system is rotten, the public streets are the only place left to go.
The British press were slow to report the Occupy demonstrations. They were too busy looking at the shabby spectacle of the fall of Liam Fox, Cameron’s Minister of Defence. In reality the Fox story is absolutely relevant to the global demonstrations for it shows, as clearly as could be, just how isolated the political classes have become from the real world. What is so difficult to take in is, not that Fox sought to use his position to advance private interests that had no relevance to the national interest, but that he must have actually thought that he could get away with it.
But this mentality, so clearly writ large in the Fox case, is intrinsic to the whole political system. The mindset of politicians habitually puts the interests of private banks before the interests of the people. I have written before about this results from the cozy compact that exists between our elected leaders and Big Finance.
But before we get too carried away about the developments we are seeing in the streets we should reflect on the focus of the demonstrations. The Observer today reports that Julian Assange played a role in Saturday’s London demonstrations at St Pauls cathedral: “To clapping and some booing, he climbed the cathedral steps to condemn "greed" and "corruption". In particular he attacked the City of London, accusing its financiers of money laundering and tax avoidance. "The banking system in London is the recipient of corrupt money," he said, adding that WikiLeaks would launch a campaign against financial institutions.”
Everything he says about the City of London is surely true. But the City is only doing what the law allows it to do. By all means let us expose the greed and the manipulation that the City indulges in but if we are going to try to right wrongs we need an effective strategy. If we think an activity should be illegal, the place to protest is not where that activity takes place but where the government decisions are made that permit that activity – in other words, parliament.
By focusing the protests on the City in Britain and on Wall Street in the USA the protestors are, to a degree,letting the politicians off the hook. That is not to say that demonstrations in the City and Wall Street are not worthwhile, but that the focus has to shift at some point to where the power to change things lies. The City demonstrations are dramatic (even if the people they are directly at were comfortably away for the weekend) but they are not political enough as yet to really worry the government.
Cameron and his colleagues will be hoping the impetus will soon be lost allowing them to carry on business as usual. Unless the demonstrators adopt a viable political agenda that is probably what will happen. The demonstrators in the Arab Spring knew what they wanted, but concretely what do the Occupy demonstrators want?
In spite of the lack of clear objectives, what the demonstrations definitely do is to heighten the stakes. They are making clear that, if no part of the political process belongs to them, the streets definitely do. They are going to claim them and occupy them.
For the present that is an expression of shear power – a power of a kind that only the people can wield. How strong that power really is will depend on the support the protestors get from everyone else. If that is sufficient, that alone will worry the government – especially bearing in mind that this is a weak coalition government mired in the scandals of being in bed with scoundrel journalists and of having a trusted minister who also turns out to be a scoundrel.
We more than ever need the awareness of a radical economic model that can rein in the power of the private banks. The Occupiers need more than cries of "greed" and "corruption". The stakes are much, much higher than that.
RECOMMENDED ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
Murkier and murkier. " The real reason Liam Fox had to resign was not a grubby little money scandal about firms funding Adam Werritty as he jetted round the world with the Defence Secretary. It was much more important, and much worse, than that...."
REPUBLICAN PARTY NEWS
Since the Pre-inaugural meeting on 1st October two further members have come forward to be on the Steering Committee making a total of seven. The committee members will be announced shortly
The committee is working on some matters of detail to bring the whole party into formal existence.
Thank you to those who have paid your subscriptions on line. These will be acknowledge by email in due course
New members and newsletter subscribers are continuing to come in. Numbers are building all the time
And lastly let me thank all those who have sent their encouragement and support.
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