Tag Archives: Democracy – Démocracie

1984

YouTube call to “heroes” to police their website with the promise of ever-greater reward for flagging up undefined, hence subjective, bad behaviour.

Surveillance is everywhere, especially the hands of private companies untamable by the State that called them in in the first place.

Whistle-blowers are trialled as traitors.

We are constantly at war against someone somewhere and these wars are draining public finances and driving up poverty.

Dissidence in all its form is increasingly considered as a danger thus silenced, put under house arrest and imprisoned even in our democracies, some of which that have been using “states of emergency” for months, if not years, in order to give the State and the police infinite power and immunity in the name of protecting the people they see as a constant threat.

Standards in education are going down along with its funding leaving generations in danger of never being able to think for themselves and at the mercy of all demagogues willing to validate their fears born of ignorance by voicing them proudly, all the while stopping short of actually addressing them in the long term.

I am starting to believe that Orwell’s 1984 was not about the year 1984 itself but about the future faced by people born in 1984. Like me…

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20 years down the drain

I have been a Europhile for the past 20 years.

When I was 11, I decided that I was not a Frenchman born in Versailles rather a European born in France.

I have believed in Europe. I have loved Europe. I have fought for Europe. I have defended and argued in favour of Europe. In 2005, I shouted, cried and ranted so much in favour of a Yes vote to the French ratification of the European Constitution that it seemed I had taken the weight of a continent on my shoulder.

I have believed in Europe for I have been convinced that we indeed had finally put our fratricidal past behind us. That we have learnt from it. That we have learnt to stop pointing fingers at each other, constantly trying to get pay back and to avenge something that was done to us before.

I have believed in Europe because we were ready to try and work together so we can truly help each other and find new ways, new solutions, new beginnings.

I have believed in Europe because I have had the conviction that after our centuries-long enterprise of bleeding and burning the whole world to its knee, we had matured, changed our ways and now have had to show the world that our past selves were wrong and we can indeed live together in solidarity and peace. Because at the end of the day, we are all brothers and sisters, and only dysfunctional families are ready to disown and let their kin die alone.

I have believed that these dark times were behind us.

Why? Because that’s what I was taught Europe was for.

Ever since I was born, I have listened to teachers, politicians, philosophers, journalists, writers, my mother telling me about the mission Europe has: to defend democracy against its enemies, whatever their shape or disguise, to protect its citizens against the peril of misery, humiliation, famine, economical decadence for our past had shown all too well whither such plights always lead.

I have argued for the past 20 years that Europe is humanity’s one chance to show that the world is not the unforgiving, ruthless jungle the neo-capitalists like to portray to justify their murderous greed. I have argued that being together and talking about problems, rather than bringing each other down to brutal and silent submission with weapons or bank account closures, is the proof that we are actually naturally inclined to working together, to helping each other.

For the past 20 years, I have fought for a Europe that would finally put the people in charge of their fate above politics and money. A place where the everyday man, woman and child will not have to suffer from the bad decisions that were made from above, without or against their consent because everything will be in their hands.

I have had a dream of a Europe where we, the people, could genuinely decide our fate in a truly democratic system. A system that would value, respect and listen to the opinion of the citizens it relies on in order to ensure the life they live is the life they actually choose.

For 20 years, I have replied to its critics by saying that yes, it is not perfect, but we are working on it and that everything that is being done is for the good of the European people. I have said time and again that at the end of day, the European Union is and will be true to what it preaches: a transparent democracy dedicated to us, to our better life and better future. A genuine democracy that will only serve the genuine interest of the people.

Today, it’s 20 years down the drain.

Today, I am shattered, angry, disappointed and ashamed.

Today, I can’t believe I bought into all these fancy concepts politicians had been throwing around to get us on board a project that, eventually and again!, turned out to only serve the rich and powerful.

Today, I cannot believe I fell for it. I feel like such a fool.

Today, Europe has proven to be ruled by money. Again. It’s nothing new. And I have been used, abused, deceived and mislead.

Today, in the name of democracy and the better future, the people of Greece, a democracy itself, will see €50bn worth of “valuable” public assets taken away from them and from their democratically elected politicians forever. They will never see them again because investors are refusing to embrace the monster they are themselves feeding, they are refusing the first rule of capitalism as defined by their beloved Adam Smith: you have to take risks and tough beans if you fail.

Today, the democratically-based European Union has made the decision to turn a blind eye and to forsake its fundamentals and ideals of democracy, citizenship, freedom, sovereignty, equality, solidarity to give way to the Eurozone and its unelected and unaccountable, financial ilk: the Eurogroup and the ECB, seconded by the almighty IFM, where Washington holds 16% of the vote when 85% are needed to reach an agreement.

Today, the European Union has made the conscious decision to disregard the voice of the Greeks, to betray all of its citizens and prove its enemies right by what it calls the Monetary Snake destroy a hard-earned democratic sovereignty.

The European Union is now nothing less that the League of Nations Wilson had created after WWI to ensure “peace and prosperity” in Europe but which silently oversaw Germany being sacrificed on the shrine of peace because it was in fact dominated by France and all the other winners of said war and they all had a bone to pick with the evil Germans.

It did not matter that Germany was a young and fragile democracy, like Greece, which, like Greece again, had become the complete opposite of the autocratic regime it was before the war. It was not enough. We needed more to soother our grievance and the League of Nations gladly let Germany suffer to oblivion in the hands of its creditors. All because everyone seemed to agree that they were at the time the biggest threat to our peace and prosperity.

Like Greece today with its bailout, the puny democratic power was forced to accept every single humiliating, undermining and dangerous clauses of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. This treaty would legalise further humiliation and would force the country’s economy to its knees as it faced having to literally pay back all the damaged it had caused.

I remember reading about the rise of Hitler and the fall of Weimar when I was 15. I remember reading about the invasion and occupation of the Rhur by the French in 1922 that triggered the spiralling downfall. A unilateral and unstopped decision made on the basis that Paris was not getting the money Berlin was supposed to pay back on time.  I remember reading about the endless vicious circle of the young German republic’s economy, its hands tied in the back by this peace-preaching League of Nation led by vengeful winners.

In history lessons, we are repeated again and again that all these measures to ensure Germany would rightly pay for what it has “alone” caused was one of the main cause of WWII as it pushed Hitler to be democratically elected in 1933. In the name of peace, the League – like the EU today – never lifted a finger, on the contrary, it became the accomplice.

I have believed in Europe because I have thought we had understood this. And we had, for a moment. After WWII, all countries, including Greece, agreed that the stupid war reparations and the finger-pointing at one people and blaming it above all others were creating nothing but ever-growing antagonism, hatred and resentment. It was making us ever weaker. We needed to work together so we cancelled the debt. We had matured. I thought…

 

However, today it’s Versailles and the occupation of the Rhur again. The people of Greece are facing with exit and misery or endless misery in the hands of the people they were taught and told to trust.  In the 1920s, the League of Nations just watched as we pushed Germany down the drain and now, in the 2010s, the European Union just spectates as we push Greece down the drain.

The banks want their money back after eight years of bad investments they gladly jumped on and austerity they happily championed, all without results they swore would show. Regardless of all the hurt they have been doing to Greece since 2008, no matter that Greece is now enduring a situation akin to the US before Roosevelt decided to make the State intervene, they are now going to get what they want and dismantle the State even more. End of.

How? By using the one bit of Europe that has never been touched by democracy yet: the Euro and its institutions. These have been called to openly overrule Greece’s democratic regime, like we did with Germany in 1922 as the banks are getting ready to open the tilt and take whatever they think ought to be theirs whether the Greeks agree or not.

When it comes to greed and destructive capitalism, history has taught us nothing. Once again, we have set countries against each other, people each other, North v South in a flourish of damaging, uneducated stereotypes feeding endless xenophobia for throwing their people against their people is the best way economics has found to hide the fact that we actually have nothing to say on the matter.

20 years.

Until weeks ago, I was still arguing that we were truly looking for a solution that would benefit the people above all but now that “we have a deal”, I don’t believe it anymore. Until weeks ago, I was still arguing against the people who were saying that our leaders were not interested in working for the great and good of everyone, rather just for themselves. But today, I am not sure especially when I see the ones shouting victory in the name of the union.

Wolfgang Schäuble, for instance, is righteously standing there telling us that it’s all about saving the union, it’s about fairness and doing the right thing, it’s about the sake of the other millions of us but then it turns out that the tax heaven-based private company which will be handling the Greek public assets and managing the burning sales is chaired by him.

To me, this man’s commitment into ensuring Greece pays every single cent given with interests is actually driven by his desire to get a piece of the cake. The biggest one, in that. And no one is lifting a finger! The fate of millions of people, from new-born babies to ageing grandmothers is resting in his sole hands, despite the Greeks refusal and I hear “Bravo!”.

Junker, as the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, spent years resisting, fighting and lobbying against clearer, better defined, more integrated European tax laws that would put an end to his country playing with the system and remaining a tax-heaven and now he’s standing there on his plinth of hypocrisy telling us that the Greeks are only reaping what they sowed by not playing by the rules. And no one is lifting a finger!

And our leaders. They have been calling us to vote during European elections because it is “our future”. We have been told that our voice matters and will make a difference. Yes, that’s until money is involved and suddenly there are superseding considerations we cannot possibly understand so our voice is irrelevant. Is that their idea of democracy? You serve the people unless you get scared, ignore us, serve the markets alone, screw it up but because we did vote for you, it’s actually our fault so we pay the prize for generations to come.

I have come to understand they are calling us to vote just to be able to lecture Russia or China from their high horse when shit hits the fan. “At least, I am here by the will of the power…I don’t care for it says but I am better than you.”

20 years that I have been defending a fraud, the building of a union that clearly puts its cherished, richest few before the livelihood of millions of its citizens because they have convinced themselves and trapped themselves in an economic understanding where they have reduced the States to irrelevance so these very few are now the only, untouchable, precious key to our well-being.

Today, however, it’s not time for me to argue for the destruction of the union.

I am now a Euro-sceptic because I trust what is accountable to the people, which the Euro institutions are not. There are the enemy of social-democracy.

I am not however a Europe-sceptic. I still want to believe in the dream because I am socialist. Call me utopist, drag me in the dirt, frankly do your worst if it makes you happy.

If democracy cannot express illusions and crazy hopes; if it cannot contain narratives of emotion and ideals, it dies. – Paul Mason

The time has come to make the union accountable to what it has been preaching: democracy, solidarity, equality, peace and well-being of its people above all else.

It is time to change properties: to fight against the Euro and for the European Union.

This is why we built the European Union

Warsaw, 1945.

I long hesitated on which city to choose and what to show: the burning pile of bodies of 1945 Dresden, the children walking in the streets of Berlin, the lone standing churches of Rotterdam, Cologne or Arras, the omnipresence of Death during the Siege of Lenigrad, the scale of destruction at Stanligrad but I decided to go for Poland for it had become, during the war, the pit of human-made horror.

This picture is why we built the European Union.

We built the European Union so we could create a place where countries were so dependent on us each that we would never be able to settle our differences by scores of death and destruction anymore.

We built the European Union on the bodies of 60 million people so that after millennia of fratricidal wars, we could finally accept that we were different yet the same. Before the EU, our autocratic regimes then nationalism and fascism had made us believe that our differences meant we would never get along and the only we had to find a solution a problem that seemed unsolvable was to take arms, mobilise men as young as 14 and throw them with ever-greater force on the top of each other for generals and leaders to see who had suffered the least damage and could therefore claim victory.

We built the European Union so we could, for the very first time in the history of humanity, find a truly civilised alternative to death as a referee to our differences of opinion, belief, ideology, form of political regime, culture, language and ruling dynasty. One will say that European countries are still using the old men-world methods outside. It’s true and I am the first one to be ashamed of it but it has also showed the world that it was possible to think and do differently and ever since it has been created, countries all over the world have decided to more or less give it a go from South American countries to the Far-East

We built European Union on the idea that by being together, we would always be stronger, individually and collectively, than by constantly trying to overcome our neighbour’s perceived power. Like a V-sign to the English-world’s 19th century conception of the laws of Nature, competition against the other powerful and destruction of the mild are not the only way forward anymore. Even in the midst of the worst economic crisis we have ever known, the European Union as an entity is still the richest, economically most powerful and geographically best-integrated and most tolerant place in the world. The erstwhile ridiculed idea of solidarity as a power has made its way for the great and the good.

Now, yes, it is not perfect. Yes, it is riddled witg forces  trying to use and abuse it for their own purpose. Yes, it has to live with the cancer of racism, intolerance and accept in its very core forces that want, and maybe will, eventually destroy it but, in that aspect, it is no different than any other democracy. These forces were, are and will always be there whether we work as one or alone within our own little, supposedly opaque and foreign-proof borders. So we may as well work as one to resist them.

Yes, it’s difficult everyday but no one said it would be easy. At the end of this memorial day, let’s remember that the European Union has managed to rethink how we deal with each other: with diplomacy, negotiation and talking. It has brought 27 countries nursing hundreds of different languages, dialects, cultures and sensibilities together in a way that has never been done before and it is getting them to finally talk to solve problems. The European Union has forced countries to accept and promote differences, cultures and languages in and out of their borders. Before the EU, these countries and regions only saw one thing in each of its neighbour and dissidence: a threat. So every single one of them only saw one possibility when it came to dealing with it: wars and destruction. Wars to get what you thought was yours, wars to protect what you believed was yours.

Yes, talking and talking and talking takes more time than getting a gun out and killing the person you are arguing with in order to win the argument. Yes, talks and talks and talks are less flashy, exciting and newsworthy than a “good old bloody war” when it comes to printing newspapers that need to attract readers. Some good old scattered bodies, dead babies in the arms of crying, blood-covered mothers is so much fancier but that’s why we built the European Union, so would never have to deal with it anymore, on our land to begin with, and maybe eventually the world.

Yes, it seems to be getting nowhere in Ukraine but it does. Believe me, as an historian, it would have taken barely a month for the WWIII to happen if we had kept our old ways of dealing with things. With all the Western Europe and all its allies up in arms against Russia and all its allies, with countries in Eastern Europe bullied into taking side and turned into an Orwellian battlefield. All because a handful of Russian separatists were more comfortable with a docile, Russia-friendly Ukraine and believe life is only worth living under the umbrella of Moscow.

The European Union has allowed someone like me to have never seen Death reaping, to have never been forced to take a gun and kill a complete stranger because I was told to and in my mind, it was him or me. It has sheltered generations of people from the trauma of killing another human being, of having to hide from oblivion and see their entire life reduced to dust. It has taught us that fighting is not the solution as it does not solve problems in the long-term, rather creating resentment and the nationalistic dream of revenge. It has taught us that laying a punch will not make your opponent admit defeat forever, just long enough make you believe you won until he thinks he has become stronger enough to lay the punch back.

On this day, when we remember that more than 20 million people from the USSR have been slaughtered to free Europe, that more than 10 million German, French, Polish, Dutch, Belgian, Danish, Czech, Russian, Ukrainian, Italian, Greek Jews, Muslims, Christians, Socialists, Communists, gypsies, gays and lesbians, young and old, men and women, healthy and disabled people were imprisoned, enslaved, starved, tortured, used as lab rats and systematically killed because they supposedly were not fitting a race, an ideology, a vision of nationalism…On this day, we shall never forget that this is why we build the European Union. So it never happens again!

It is now your mission as well as mine to protect the EU, to believe in it, to remember its true purpose.

It is essential we resist the voices of the destructive forces I mentioned earlier. These forces democracy has to tolerate and live with, the ones that could destroy it from the inside. The ones telling you that Europe is the enemy truly working against you. They are the ones who want to make you believe that the scores are already settled. They are the ones who are calling the EU a dictatorship whilst conveniently forgetting to mention to the rest of the country when the next European elections are or encourage people to vote. They are the ones loving the “political stability” of China and whose constant scaremongering has told us that the uncertainty of elections is bad for the economy*. They are the ones who are trying to discourage you from voting by saying that it is irrelevant. They are doing this because they either have a lot to lose if you were to vote or their nostalgia of a glorious past is blinding them into the reality of the lives our ancestors actually lived and they think the EU is responsible for all modern evil.

The European Union was and is being built, expanded and kept up by democracies which have not created a continent-size dictatorship but put in a place a parliament where only politicians elected by their people are sitting. No one is where they are because they were chosen by an oligarchy.

We are not China where people do not have a say on the future of their country and therefore their own. If austerity happens in China, it will indeed by forced upon them by the system they have not chosen but if austerity is “forced on us” by Brussels, it is only because people vote massively for the right-wing, conservative People’s Party who has been championing all the austerity measures that are making our lives difficult and inequality worse all across the continent. You want things to change? You think they are betraying the true purpose of the EU? As I said, it’s a democracy: change happens if you vote for change.

 

I don’t agree with everything it does but I do believe in Europe because I will never forget why we have been building it, because I believe in democracy, because I believe in working together regardless of our differences, because I am ready to accept these differences, because I believe in its ability to  be a force for good; for peace and forward thinking. And mostly because it has made me a first-class citizen by making me responsible for its future, as well as my future by giving me the right to vote after crashing to pieces the fascism it has given birth to almost a century ago.

* “According to the International Monetary Fund, which said uncertainty surrounding the election would undermine growth forecasts”  – The Guardian: IMF forecast blows hole in George Osborne’s deficit reduction plan.

The European Union: what about democracy?

I love Europe. I am a deep Europhile. I made the decision when I was about 12 to not be a French person born in the region of Versailles, rather a European born in the country of France. There are many things I strongly disagree with when it comes to how the European Union is evolving and whence it is going but I do believe in the union.

But right now, it is facing a test that could well undermine my faith in it and its future altogether: Greece. It’s the test of how much actual democracy the European Union is willing to embrace, how much the machine is willing to listen what its citizens aspire to.

I understand that the European Union is first and foremost an economic union. It was built after WWII to make the countries depend to each other to such an extent that none could not break away easily and declare war to get its way. The vision, mainly pushed by the French and the Germans, was that if you force a country to need a neighbour, problems will have to be discussed with words and patience rather than fought with guns and tanks, which is what we did for millenniums. And what we are trying to avoid again in Ukraine. Yes it takes a lot of time and it’s not “news-worthy” but it’s saving millions of lives.

From the 1950s, we first made sure we had to rely on each other for coal, iron, steel, oil, crops then we extended it to the rest of the economy and together, despite the economic crisis, we are still the strongest economy in the world, whether bankers and investors, Tories and Republicans like it or not.

There is now a will for a political union because it is true that it would make things easier. I am very divided and dithering on this issue for I see pluses and minuses in both cases. Although this political union doesn’t exist yet, what does exist throughout the EU, what is written in all founding treaties, what is a key criterion to enter is to respect democracy, to promote it, to protect it, to defend it at all costs.

Now, the Greeks have decided to vote for a left-wing party. It was not rigged, they just went to the polls and actually voted in the true spirit of all democratic elections. It is actually quite amazing of them because in times likes this, people easily stop voting or/and put the blame on everything foreign then have this middle-class reflex of going conservative and choosing right-wing, racist and xenophobic parties. Hence, the rise of Front National, UKIP and all far-right parties in the rest of Europe, including Greece with the Golden Dawn. This is not something new, it happened all across Europe in the crisis-ridden 1930s and whereas France just managed to save its democracy in 1932, nor Italy neither Germany and Spain could.

Nevertheless, the Greeks pulled a French 1936 and went with hope and change. They chose people who were offering something new, they believed in people whose argument was not to go back to some supposedly better times where “foreigners, Muslims and Jews were not here” but to try yet another way, a way that would embrace all the positive values the West is ever-boasting. Everyone in Europe was only talking about the Golden Dawn but they did not win. Greece did not choose fascism, they chose democracy. They chose to put hope and positive change before anything else. And this is why they are now testing the EU. If you listen to what our leaders say to the world, what the Greeks did is the essence of Europe so in the face of such an election, Europe should be proud to be yet again a beacon of hope.

However, I hear nothing but condemnation and scaremongering. Now, I am not surprised that people such as the Tories in England are the first one on the soap box saying that Greece’s vote is threatening the future of Europe. Frankly, no one across their shores take them seriously anymore. Their euroscepticism and desperate alliances with extreme far-right, Nazi-loving, Holocaust-denying parties have rendered them the biggest threat to the UE and no one except for Britain’s electorate is fooled by their Cassandra song.

What I am shocked with is the reaction of the other leaders who jumped to say that the election was not going to change anything. What is that supposed to mean? I know right-wing leaders in Southern Europe are trying to contain what they call “contagion”, as if voting for the Left was some kind of new plague following its usual  path of destruction from the East of the Mediterranean sea to the arctic shores of Norway. I guess for the Right, it is.

However, the reactions from leaders, mainly across Northern Europe, basically means that the voice of the people is irrelevant in the face of economic matters. It doesn’t matter what the people of Greece says, it doesn’t matter how they vote, how we all vote, our fate is sealed: the investors want their money back and they are going to get it. End of! It’s not just patronising, it is plain dictatorial but made acceptable by economic circumstances and definitely not what the EU was built for.

You cannot go and dismiss millions of people democratically voting for a change in their everyday life, for wanting their suffering to stop, just because it disagrees with your way to deal with problems. And if you do, don’t come and complain that people are not voting anymore. The message various leaders have sent for the past three weeks, not just to the Greeks but to their own citizens is: your vote, puny people of Europe, is irrelevant in the face of the economic machine.

Worst still. They try to justify it by saying that the Greeks need to “take responsibility” for the mistakes their leaders made in the past. Greece spent decades having very little to choose from when it came to politicians with a big corrupted clan on the Right and a big corrupted clan on the Left but they voted anyway so now, we don’t want hear anything. You were stupid enough to believe them, you will pay for it. It doesn’t matter if you decided to go for a change, you will still pay for it. Even if it means, you can’t feed your kids.

This is where my faith turned out to be resting on sand for me. I understood Europe as a beacon for democracy and it turns out to be nothing but yet another tool for carnivorous, extreme capitalism where millions of innocent people who are trying to just live their lives, feed themselves and their kids must be sacrificed to protect the assets of a few and allow them to seek and exert revenge. The EU is now accomplice to making its own entire countries, millions of its own people suffer, starve and cry from babies to dying people regardless just because a few want a proper return on their investment.

Now they are even some talks of pushing Greece out. The implications are huge: for Greece itself who will have to suddenly be fending for itself after 30 years in a deeply integrated, continent-size economy, it means having to go back to its own currency after 15 years using the Euro, it means having to rewrite all the treaties…For the EU, it means that a country that has not gone with fascism but chose democracy is being kicked out just and only for not agreeing with right-wing, economic orthodoxy.

Personally, I am baffled by such threats. Not just because they are a million miles away from what the everyday Europeans want but also because other countries have never faced anything like that despite flirting with fascism or threatening the very existence of the EU.

If you take the UK, for instance. The Tory government has spent the last five years claiming high and proud how much they hated the EU, how willing they were to get out of it, launching insults after insults on anything European. Today barely 30% of the UK want to stay in the EU. Their politicians have joined forces with people even the Front National would not consider, they have been vetoing major treaties and decisions that could have saved us time and hassle dealing with the crisis just because “in exchange” they are demanding all the treaties to be revised. They even want to get rid of one of the first fundamental rules of the EU: the right to free movement.

You’d think that such a country would be on the verge of being kicked out. Well, no. Everyone o the continent I have been talking to is willing to have it kicked out. We, continentals, are all fed up with the UK and its school-playground behaviour when it comes to working as a team but all our leaders are bending over backwards, spending hours in pointless negotiations, millions of Euros in specialised lawyers to maybe tweak the treaties so we can us all, 27 countries, find a way to accommodate one of us, who has clearly said he would not work with us. And why? Because the UK doesn’t just agree with the right-wing, capitalist orthodoxy, it created it, it’s promoting it world-wide. The UK is the biggest advocate for the policies the EU is using “to punish” the people of Southern Europe.

Today Greece is on the verge of being kicked out of Europe for choosing democracy over fascism, for putting the suffering of its people first, for daring to ask for a change, for having opened a door to an alternative. Europe must find the strength to remember that this is why it was created in the first place. Forsaking Greece is forsaking every single European citizens, it’s denying that their voice matter when it comes to be, work and live together, it is saying that Europe is not democratic, it is proving our enemies right, it is burning democracy in the altar of the economy. It’s making the 1930s again.

There might be a will in our leaders for Greece to get out but when you talk to the people, they don’t feel the same way. People have empathy before calculation, it doesn’t make them irrelevant or worthless. For me, denying the choice the Greeks have made is indeed the death of the European Union as a democracy but despite what the powerful people say today, History will judge and show that it’s not because of Greece rather because of our elected leaders have betrayed us by making the conscious decision to listen to the people only after serving the interests of capitalist agents.

If they do want to save the EU, they have to put democracy first and listen to the people. Not ignore the economy but understand that it’s supposed to serve us, the people, first. If they did listen, they would find out that there is one way for Greece: to stay and to be carefully listened to. That’s what we, the people, want.

Democracy will be our revenge because this is the terrorists’ greatest and darkest fear.

When it comes to terrorism, we are always told that we should not play into their “game” but what does it mean?

I have two main understandings to this statement.

The first one is to avoid what in French we call “La Loi du Talion: Œil pour œil, dent pour dent.” This can roughly be translated as the law of retaliation: eye for eye, tooth for tooth.  This is the hardest part for everyone when it comes to dealing with loss and shock, the inner fight against what seems to be the only fair course of acting: retaliation.

La Loi du Talion is the first voice that arises from the sore throat of the ones looking at the blood of the victims. The vox populi forever demands revenge, the criminals have to pay. For murder, we have to find a cherished one of these killers and have them murdered by the grieved the way their beloved were killed.

And this what we must avoid at all costs.

I am not going to say that it’s because it won’t bring their loved ones back – nothing ever will, even civilised justice – or that it will not help with closure and coping with their loss – it might. The reason why I think the retaliation can never work is because bleeding your enemy’s children will only prove them right (1).

The battle for retaliation is always righteous and we will all end up having a good, a noble, a fair reason to harm each other.  This is what we see between Israel and Palestine or between the US/UK and the Islamists: every side has become the victim and the executioner at once. Every side can prove the other has harmed them unfairly, unlawfully and therefore claim to be in the right when it comes to destroy their foe.

Once the idea of retaliation has sneaked in, it is almost impossible to call to reason anymore.

La Loi du Talion rests on emotions, it’s a kneejerk reaction. You push me, I push you. Case closed. Let’s move on. We discourage it in school playgrounds and there is a reason for this: this has always been the main source of hatred in today’s world with lethal consequences.

In Europe, this, coupled with nationalism, was the main reasons for countless, increasingly bloody wars, this idea that we always had a score to settle with a neighbour: a treaty that was unfair, a dispute left unresolved, an insult left undealt with, a region they took away from us at some point and we had to get back. The case of Alsace-Lorraine poisoned the relations between the French and the Germans since Louis XIV who conquered it in 1639, in 1870 where the Germans took it back then France took it back in 1918, an episode Hitler took for a terrible humiliation on the part of Germany. Alsace-Lorraine was therefore not “occupied” but “integrated” to the 3rd Reich during the war because it was still seen as a lawful part of Germany. That’s more than 300 years of revenge wars, millions of death to see who would have the last world.

The terrorists are in this logic. They believe they have a score to settle but they need a fight to quench their thirst for death. Thus they are pushing us into our darkest place. They are targeting the meek, the innocent, the ones who represent the most our democracy so we all become the stone-cold, intolerant, empty, calculating, bloodthirsty killing machines they have become a long time ago. They want us to retaliate, to strike harder, deeper. Drop an atomic bomb on Mosul (like some people are suggesting) and you will serve nothing but their purpose. They don’t care for other Muslims, they have been mass-killing them for centuries for disagreeing with their extreme beliefs. But then we will become the executioner again and they will claim yet more reasons to bleed us to the bones. How long will it last? How many innocent will have to die on both sides?

We have to be the ones who know better because they never will. We can’t lecture the world on civilisation and be nothing but barbarians.

We should resist the urge: punch a tree, scream, cry, rally and be with peers who will understand and share our anger so we can let it out but we should never retaliate. We should put our faith into the democratic system we have built, not matter how slow it looks when dealing with our need to avenge. It is slow in appearance because it wants to be fair and meticulous in punishing the right people. Yes, we could decide to punish all Muslims, it would be quicker but we would be no different than the Nazis towards the Jews.

If it’s a war of faith the terrorists want, I am putting my faith in the peaceful democracy we have been trying to build and improve since the voice of the first French philosophe broke out in the opaque midst of tyrannical absolutism.

That’s my second reading of this say: we have to trust our democracy. Not just “trust” but defend, even though they are not perfect because they are the expression of us, the people.

What the terrorists want is to destroy our state, what we built, what we died for, what we fought for for centuries. They loathe it, this state. These “God-less” democracies where everyone can say; think, be, act, wear, eat whatever they want, even women, gays and now, increasingly, children.

If you consider these terrorists, their view of what and how the world should be is based on some twisted interpretation of the prophet’s message back in the 7th century, right at the birth of Islam. That’s almost 1400 years ago in a world where men like them got to rule, oppress, control and kill freely. That’s the world they want and that’s a world we have to never give them.

We have to never play into their games like London and Washington did, for instance. Two countries where the fight against terrorism has, nowadays, given birth to the belief that every citizen is a potential terrorist, where surveillance is everywhere, righteously justified by its creators, praised and widened by the frightened ageing establishment of their parliament.  For Washington, London or Canberra, we, the people, all have become a risk for the security of the state. But if the people is the enemy is the state, who is the state serving? Demo-cracy: “the power of the people”. The state must serve the people, not the state itself.

Totalitarism is where the state is serving the state. This idea that every citizen is a threat to the state and must therefore be tracked, watched, can be searched and arrested at all times is the one that rule dictatorships such as North Korea, Cuba, Nazi Germany and USSR – where the dictator is the state. These regimes served an ideology, whereas the terrorist serve a belief.

The idea of state vs individuals is indeed also deeply rooted the theocracy the terrorists want to impose to the world: a state that is the voice of God, a regime where criticising the state is to criticise God, a regime supposedly ruled by the book holding the message of God for the sake of everyone but truly ruled by the men who will have found the means to kill their opponent in the name of faith.

The terrorists want our democracies to become paranoid and unfair because, as the scandals of mass surveillance and the abuse of the Patriot Act have shown, they know it will lead the people to lose faith in the state and forsake it for more extreme views.

We have to protect our liberties, all of them; we have to carry improving not going back to darker more obscurantist times, we have to remind our leaders that when attempting to restrict movements, conversations, expressions, opinions to squash terrorism, they can also undermine our ability to be free, which is exactly what our enemy wants.

Democracy, the power of the people, the freedom of the people, will be our revenge because this is the terrorists’ greatest and darkest fear. We must stand in front of terrorism and tell our leaders that altering our freedom to be, think, speak, act and believe in any way will turn us into our very enemy and hand them the victory.

1 – See History will teach us nothing by Sting:

Convince an enemy, convince him that he’s wrong
Is to win a bloodless battle where victory is long
A simple act of faith, of reason over might
To blow up his children will only prove him right.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” – Voltaire

We saw worse on our path to protect the French Republic. You do not scare us.

Countless times did we fight to our death to ensure we could live, think, be and act freely.

So today, we will walk on, as we always have, as one, with fear, yes, but determination.

We will remember the brave and the innocent, whose life you wasted.

They will give us the strength to overcome.

Peacefully and lionhearted, we shall strike the last blow. 

Having a job is about making a living.

The new thing right now is to blame everything on the unemployed. The idea pushed by the rich and powerful that they cost so much to the country that they are the reason why the crisis is lingering. It’s nothing new to blame the poor and the minorities: wanderers were blame for everything throughout the Middle-Ages and so were the Jews up to 1945 in Europe.

Today, however, anyone actually interested can check the numbers on every government websites for they are obliged by “Evil Brussels” to publish them and they would find out that the money dedicated to unemployment benefits is always way less than the money given to private companies so to encourage them to keep buying State’s assets. Like the railway in England.

Also, anyone with a memory will remember that the banks and their recklessness have sunk economies, not the poor and the unemployed. The hole in the State’s treasury in most “Western” countries which “justifies” austerity comes from the £500 billion bail-out given to the bank which they don’t even have to pay it back. Not from the few millions given to council housings and job centres.

I have always been amazed how even the working poor themselves are ready to believe that idea that welfare state is responsible. The whole speech about the working vs the unworking on all right-wing tabloids and media is working wonders. So much that even the Left is using it now because now even the poorer, the most unsecure, the ones whose work life-line is holding by a thread – it takes nothing now for a law to pass so the minimum wage they are living on is abolished – even these people say out loud that we should abolish benefits because all unemployed are “happy to live on it”. They are not simple-minded, they just believe anything Rupert Murdoch and co’s press will write.

What the neo-classical vox populi deliberately ignores is that people are not on benefits because they want to but because they need to. Unemployment is not a situation where people like to be in. You don’t thrive in unemployment: you are nothing but a name, you lost part of your identity, you don’t contribute to society, you are a pariah, you have to be helped like a sick person but a sick person has been struck by fate whereas you “must have done something wrong”, you lack social interactions and intellectual stimulation, you don’t have a sense of purpose anymore. It’s a physical and moral degradation, the biggest source of depression and suicide, and, except for some bastards loved and cherished by the tabloids and Channel 4 for they confirm their views, no one is happy to be useless. But for Paris Hilton and most rich heirs and heiresses, of course.

The reason why some people are not in a job and stay on benefit is mainly because work doesn’t pay anymore so they have to make a decision between poverty and decadence in a job or barely making it on benefits. What would you choose?

We have reached a situation today where the State, following its mission to protect its citizens, is still being more or less honest and fair whereas most of private companies have come to treating their work force as disposable “resources” that bring nothing. The State benefits are taking hundreds of criteria into consideration to ensure that unemployment doesn’t mean instant and extreme poverty. Benefits have to allow people to get back on their feet after they lost their living.

Whereas companies would rather be spending millions lobbying ministers, governments, sending corporate lawyers at huge expenses to ensure that the minimum wage doesn’t go up, or better, gets abolished completely, and to deregulate the job market so they can decide the fate of workers with a click of their fingers. The Zero Hour contracts the unemployed are forced to take in England is nothing but modern slavery for private companies where people work for free as their decreasing State benefits have become their pay. The State is paying the wages of the employees used and abused by private companies and everyone thinks it’s normal.

Before I am accused of being anti-corporation, I know many companies are doing the right thing. The multi-national firm my mom works for is actually doing everything they can to make sure their employees are happy and healthy, they pay internships and work-experiences fairly but they are not the ones you see cosying with ministers and put on a national pedestal by governments. It’s like the Left is ignoring them to make a point and so is the Right.

Anyway.

The reason why some people are living on benefits is because having a job is not a guarantee to being able to survive whereas being on benefits, weirdly, offers more security and hope to unemployed people.

So how do we fix it?

The solution we advertise the most and the one applied the most right now is to cut the benefits. There is this idea that abolishing benefits will put people to work as if cutting benefits would suddenly create 15 million jobs in Spain. CEOs say it would because the companies would not have to pay social charges to finance them anymore. The truth is these charges are nothing next to the hundreds of billions of Euros, pounds and dollars these companies and banks are sitting on at the moment, greedily waiting for the State they loath to fix the problems so they can invest again. Cutting these charges will not make them abide by their very own definition of capitalism which is to take risks, invest the vast sums of money they are keeping tightly against their chest right now and create jobs. They have the money but they are waiting for something to happen and cutting benefits will not suddenly get people back to work, whatever they want us to believe. Even studies commissioned by various governments (widely discredited and disregarded by ministers who asked for them themselves) say this is not the solution.

What abolishing benefits will do is throw millions of people of all classes, races and backgrounds into extreme poverty whereas the richest will get even richer thanks to the Stats intervention in their favour. However there is something people tend to forget: human beings are animals who will do anything to survive. Extreme poverty is exclusion of the “civilised world”, it’s reducing people to nothing in a society where everything costs, even being born.

Willingly pushing people to extreme poverty will harm social peace because nowhere at no time in history have people put up with it for too long. Even in times of no social media and world communications have people organised and rebelled. Social unease then unrest will increase and when people have realised that their democratic state has indeed sold them out, they will not see it as theirs anymore and will try to harm it (by voting for the fringe parties) or overthrow it. But in a world where politicians have not visions, no convictions, I’m not surprised there is not long-term dedication.

The other solution is therefore to ensure that people can live of their job, not by making the State pay the wage of private sector’s employees, like in England, but by making sure companies pay their workforce enough for them to actually live. It has been shown again and again that people whose work is paying fairly are more prone to like it, are more dedicated, more productive and happier in general. And someone who is happy and secured is someone who will buy more as well. Someone who works for hours to get nothing in return and with no prospect will not even try because there is nowhere to go, no point whatsoever.

We are born on Earth, we have no choice and yet are told to pay for food and water. We are then told that a job will give us money for that so we get a job and what should we do when this job we do for hours, day in day out, doesn’t help us pay for that food and water?

When mentioning it to most big corporations, they shrug it and tell us that having a job should be enough as a reward and satisfaction.  People should be happy that companies are here to grant them with a job to begin with as if it were selfless from them to employ us. It’s not their fault if they money they grant us is not enough. It’s the State, we should complain to the State, even if they have dismantled it. We should realise the companies are a force for good and we should work just for them just for the sake of it.

A job is to “make a living” but today, listening to the richest CEOs, it’s like jobs are just becoming a way to keep “lazy people” busy between breakfast and dinner so they don’t have time to think too much. The image we are made to believe is that big bosses are doing the world a favour by maintaining social stability through the jobs they grant to the common men. How dare we ask for money then?

How have we come to this? How can a CEO believe that he’s the force for good in the company and all his employees should just be happy to be working for him for nothing? How is it possible for companies to genuinely believe that their workforce brings nothing, only managers create wealth? How can democratic states not only praise these people but make sure the law is increasingly on their side? It’s Ayn Rand all over again. No wonder they all praise her work as the one of messiah.

I feel like we are stuck in a vicious circle of levelling down. Benefits should be abolished and pay should go down to allow private companies to “flourish” but who is benefiting then? What’s the point of companies making profits if the majority of people don’t see the benefit of it? Where is all that money going then? We all know but we don’t really mention it because we don’t question the force for good Reagan and Thatcher’s understanding of capitalism is, whereby the living standards of everyday people is irrelevant for a ruling class that doesn’t seem to be able to grasp the looming disaster of their inward, short-sighted, profit-centred and selfish vision of the world. It’s not democracy, it’s plutocracy.

If it’s only about the money, like they like to say, at the end of the day, the people will not go with what is easier but with what allows them to survive. If benefits paying better, people will “choose” unemployment. It’s not benefits we have to change but pay altogether.

Atlas will drop the world, the world will drop on him.

Make work pay or face unrest.