Democrat September-October 2011 (Number 125)
Arthur Smelt says there's
Enough to make a saint riot
Throughout Europe, the Middle East and indeed elsewhere, we are witnessing unrest, discontentment and anger emanating from considerable numbers of ordinary people. This discontentment has been and is manifest in various forms, from extreme violence to peaceful demonstrations.
Various arguments are put forward to explain the reasons behind this unrest. In North Africa it would appear that people are revolting against oppressive and undemocratic governments, where corruption, obscene self enrichment and murder of protesters on the part of those wielding the power has triggered revolt. There are however countries in this region where these kind of regimes continue unchallenged and are even seen as allies by Western governments.
In Europe we like to think that a more democratic state of affairs exists. Fundamentally however, anyone who seriously investigates what is happening in Europe must, if they are honest, be seriously perturbed by their findings.
The vandalism, looting and violence which has occurred in a number of European cities, is most definitely unacceptable. Nevertheless it should serve to make us acutely aware there is something seriously amiss in our society amounting to more than just bad parenting. A great deal of dysfunctional behaviour occurs because of environmental and other factors.
In these columns attempts are made to expose the unacceptable conduct of many politicians within the EU and administrations of individual member states. Here in Britain and in the EU we have witnessed amongst other things, the obscene way in which politicians looted the expenses system protesting all the while they were doing nothing wrong. This fuels the idea in the minds of the public that politicians are crooks, regardless of political allegiance.
In the commercial sector, bankers made such an inordinate mess of the banking system, we were all in danger of having catastrophe imposed on us because of their activities and the failure of regulatory bodies. They were then bailed out by taxpayers and rewarded with massive bonuses, totally incomprehensible to the man and woman in the street. Billions of £s are invested in overseas accounts to avoid paying tax, thereby depriving the state of revenue. According to some sections of the media however the real culprits are benefit cheats, the unemployed, sick and elderly. People are living too long and profits are more important then human welfare. We are living in times where the political and economic climate, instead of making life easier and more agreeable for the majority of the population, is fraught with increasing difficulty and unease. In spite of technological advances life is more complicated and the gap between rich and poor in this country is reported as being wider than it has been for 50 years resulting in more inequality. Unemployment and homelessness are increasing all the time thereby damaging family life and life in general.
The EU was set up to consolidate the very tenets which are bringing about the political and economic mess we are seeing here and throughout Europe. Those responsible and their supporters have brought in laws, rules and regulations in the most surreptitious and undemocratic manner so that the majority of people even now do not know what is happening. Referenda on major issues like continued EU membership have not been allowed because it is realised there would be a massive protest vote. On the rare occasions where referenda have been allowed, to give a semblance of democracy and the vote has gone against the EU, it has been craftily overturned. Hardly saintly behaviour. Perhaps a more philanthropic leadership is too much to ask for.