Archive for the ‘Democracy – local & global’ Category

Europe’s ongoing failure handling refugees

By Jan Oberg

- speaking out on PressTV on September 24, 2016

The Global Right and Left and Immanuel Wallerstein

By Johan Galtung

Immanuel Wallerstein is unique. Nobody else has presented such a coherent theory of what he calls the modern world-system, from “the long 16th century” up till today; essentially capitalist. There are ups and downs during those four centuries. He is very much at home in the economic Kondratiev cycles–A for up, B for down, but not that much down–and in the political-military hegemonic cycles of the would-be hegemons in the same period.

Read Immanuel Wallerstein and become wiser.

He warns against the Global Right “Lampedusa tactic” of “changing things so that they remain the same”. And insists on Liberty, Equality and Fraternity for the Global Left–but sees the French Revolution more as normalizing change than as people’s sovereignty. Like faith in the middle classes: they are actually helping the Global Right, when in minority they are enlarged by the majority working classes, when in majority they neglect the working class minority left behind.

Right now Wallerstein sees capitalism in crisis with no remedy – of which I am not so sure – and the US hegemony also in a crisis with no remedy – a view I share – as the fall of an empire with local elites killing for them; now they have to do most of the killing themselves.

The Global Right, in power for a long time, is now faltering. Time for the Global Left?

Or, does Zizek’s brilliant formula “the left never misses a chance to miss a chance” apply?

Wallerstein offers six Global Left proposals: Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo # 388: The War On Terror – A predictable fiasco

By Jan Oberg

This coming Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of what could be called the most counter-productive, if not stupid, war in modern history: The War On Terror. Today that war is much much more dangerous to the world’s future than the terrorists it is allegedly supposed to hunt down. And it has caused thousands of times more suffering, death and destruction – at least a million innocent people killed.

It’s not a war on terrorism but on terrorists and that is as smart as trying to fight all diseases by killing patients. It’s a war fought without any consideration of the one big question: Why did they do it and why do they do it? Media and politics only asking: Who did it? How was it done? Where? How to respond?

Without an intelligent, comprehensive diagnosis of 9/11 it could only go wrong. And it has.

The next problem was that ‘terrorism’ was suddenly defined by states as anything non-state that threatens society and states. Governments and the UN (which consists of them) conveniently omitted terrorism as a term for what states do and have done on a regular basis and on a much larger scale. Such as the nuclear balance of terror.

About 400 people were killed annually and worldwide before 9/11 according to US State Department statistics – reporting of that stopped in 2004 when figures soared after the War On Terror gained momentum. However, according to the 2015 Global Terror Index – the number is now 32,000 – and the far majority killed outside the West. So, the problem has increased exactly 80 times(!)

And the Western leaders who continue this war has no idea about how to stop it or do something more productive and intelligent to the world. Primitive tit-for-tat and disproportional responses has substituted what was once called statesmanship.

And it was predictable that it would be a fiasco!

Many both inside and outside the U.S. came up with Read the rest of this entry »

America, the threatened?

By Jonathan Power

September 6th 2016

The French ambassador to the US from 1902 to 1924, Jean-Jules Jusserand, observed that distant powers could not easily threaten the US because “On the north, she has a weak neighbour; on the south, another weak neighbour; on the east fish and on the west, fish”.

The coming of the submarine-based nuclear missile has not changed that. Apart from the fact that no enemy would dare use them for fear of retaliation, and that there is no country in the world that feels that hostile to America (accept North Korea), the fact is America is too big and too far away to be invaded and dominated. There could not be a blitzkrieg by a foreign army across the mid-west or a Vichy America.

The real tragedy of 9/11 is just as a majority of the US electorate had settled into a post-Cold War comfort zone with the new president, George W. Bush, not being overly pushy or confrontational in foreign affairs, America was jolted so badly that a large proportion of its electorate – maybe half – has been paranoid ever since. Enemies are once again seen under the bed.

Enough of the electorate have persuaded themselves that they are insecure Read the rest of this entry »

The sky above Turkey has much blue in it

By Richard Falk

August 10, 2016

Prefatory Note
An earlier version was published by Middle East Eye on August 10, 2016. It seems so important at this time for the sake of the future of Turkey that the West look at the country and its political circumstances in a far more balanced way than how the situation has been portrayed since the coup. How to explain this imbalance is another matterthat should be explored at some point, but for now is largely put aside.

Much uncertainty remains in Turkey, but there is enough evidence of positive tendencies to raise a tentative banner of hope. Being a witness to the political atmosphere in Turkey that has emerged after the failed coup of July 15th puts me at odds with the secular consensus in the West, which looks up at the sky and sees only dark, ominous clouds of human rights abuse and autocratic leadership.

What I have experienced and observed so far is quite different, a sky with much blue in it.

There are two opposed, although overlapping, tendencies present that seemed to be responsive to the political priorities that top the post-coup government agenda: sustaining the anti-coup unity by shifting political gears within the AKP leadership circles in the direction of “inclusive democracy” and pragmatism, and with it, a retreat from the polarizing claims of “majoritarian democracy” that greatly intensified after the 2011 national elections and were particularly evident in the clumsy, unacceptable way the Turkish government handled the Gezi Park demonstrations two years later.

The most important concrete embodiment of this post-15 July move toward inclusiveness has been a series of initatives intended to create a common front between the three leading political parties in the country, including the CHP (secular mainstream) and MHP (nationalist rightest) opposition parties.

This has been reinforced by several other developments, Read the rest of this entry »

The global power imbalance

By Johan Galtung

Dear Reader: This editorial 444 – the number calls for attention – is dedicated to a global overview, the world “right now”, so unstable with imbalances everywhere that what we are living is fluxes and jumps.

Let us start with two major relations: Nature-human, the US-the Rest.

Look at the human-nature relations.

We are used to being on top, killing and taming animals, protected against many of nature’s hazards including micro-organisms. But nature comes up with ever smaller viri, and larger, or more, tsunamis and earthquakes, and an erratic climate.

We oscillate between blaming ourselves, including military scheming, and the anthropomorphic “Mother Nature is angry” (Evo Morales).

If nature is angry, she has good reasons for a good riddance of us. And we are slow at a deeper human-nature relations respecting and enhancing both.

Nature is on top and our natural sciences are simply not good enough, taken by surprise all the time. Meteorology is good at covering the whole Beaufort wind range from 0-12; others not.

Maybe we have desouled nature and besouled ourselves too much to establish our own Herrschaft (rule, dominance), at the expense of Partnerschaft (partnership).

Unless this changes, imbalance with nature on top, and surprises, will continue.

Maybe the opposite holds for the US-Rest imbalance; that US exceptionalism serves USA as badly as humans above nature serves us? Read the rest of this entry »

Are we heading toward global autocracy, ecological collapse and political malaise?

By Richard Falk

What follows are preliminary reactions to both the BREXIT vote and the world according to Trump, but also a commentary on the related alienation of large segments of the public that are being badly served by both the established elites and their demagogic adversaries.

The failures of neoliberalism, the successes of digitization, the scourge of random violence, and more broadly, the dilemmas posed by late modernity are among the root causes of this global crisis of legitimate governance, which is deepened while being mishandled by unprecedented ecological challenges, extremely irresponsible geopolitical leadership, and a variety of ultra-nationalist backlashes against the encroachments of economic globalization.

Imagining the World After the Cold War

After the end of the Cold War there were various projections that tried to anticipate the likely future of the world in broad interpretative strokes. Three of the most influential conjectures by three prominent American authors received attention in the public sphere: those of Francis Fukuyama, Samuel Huntington, and Robert Kaplan.

Fukuyama challenged conventional political imagination with his provocative claim that with the collapse of the Soviet version of state socialism and the triumph of capitalist liberalism the world had reached ‘the end of history.’ It was also somewhat dubious that Fukuyama validated his views by reference to the Hegelian contention that history is made by the march and interplay of ideas rather than through the agency of material forces.

In this respect history came to a supposedly glorious end because there was no grander possible political vision than that of market-based constitutionalism, epitomized by the American political system. Even the most casual observer of the global scene must have noticed the befogged Western optic through which Fukuyama saw the world.

Huntington, no less provocative or biased, although less comforting for the West, anticipated a ‘the clash of civilizations’ as the sequel to the Cold War, especially stressing the confrontation between the liberal West and the non-West or simply ‘the rest.’ His suggestive emphasis was on blood-soaked fault lines between states, civilizations, and peoples associated with Islam and the Western polities descending from the Enlightenment tradition as it unfolded in Europe, taking root in North America and elsewhere.

Kaplan, also punctured the Fukuyama triumphalist tone of geopolitical serenity, by writing Read the rest of this entry »

Russia and China right now

By Johan Galtung

The background is the two major communist parties in the world. Russia Communist Party-Bolshevik made the November 1917 revolution; from 1922 the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, CPSU(b). CPC, the Communist Party of China, now celebrating its 95th anniversary, made the 1 October 1949 revolution. World-shaking events; in the world’s biggest state in area and in the world’s biggest state in population.

The revolutions cut into the modernity contradictions in the State-Capital-People triangle by conquering State-military and police. Two lasting achievements of CPSU(b): State Planning of the economy – maybe five years at the time, pjatiletka – now found in most countries; and lifting some bottom up to meet basic needs, surprisingly quickly. But CPSU(b) exercised gross structural violence in the countryside. And CPC, imitating CPSU(b), made the same mistake to start with.

Then they became different. Russia got stuck with the Party on top of the State, for some people, but not by the people. CPC, like CPSU, did not – and still does not – permit FAFE, fair and free elections at the national level. But China gave People a voice in the 70,000 People’s Communes, helping them lift themselves up when in misery.

China did not see State and Capital as either-or; like Bolshevik Russia opting for State through expropriation, and neo-liberal USA for Capital through privatization, manipulating and spying on the People. China opened for the neither-nor local level, for the compromise of some welfare state, and for the both-and of their capi-communism.

This intellectual-political flexibility, rooted in daoist holism and an unending force-counter-force dialectic, not in Western faith in a final state, Endzustand, opened for two very different “communisms”.

How are they doing these days, those two communist parties?

The Russian party is out for the time being; and in came capitalism. But over and above that discourse looms the history of a huge Russian Orthodox empire attacked by Vikings, Mongols-Tatars, Turks, Napoleon and Hitler, Catholic Christianity, and Cold Wars with extremist US evangelism, now over Ukraine too.

Yeltsin – hated by Gorbachev (INYT, 3 Jun 2016) – gave the West what they wanted.

Popular Putin tries to build autonomous Russia without Western-capitalist imperialism, probably successful in the longer run. However, in Russia the long run is very long. Read the rest of this entry »

“Peace, Conflict, Democracy”

The West leaves, a multi-polar world comes

Jan Øberg Part 1/3

Is democracy on the wane?

By Jonathan Power

June 14th 2016

Is there a democratic recession? No, not an economic one. Rather one of the voting kind. In other words is democracy going backwards? It is not. Democracy remains resilient. Authoritarianism is being held at bay, despite recession in Russia, Turkey and China.

“Democracy may be receding somewhat in practice, but it is still globally ascendant in people’s values and aspirations”, writes Larry Diamond in a new book, “Democracy in Decline”. In fact Diamond’s positive conclusion is less positive than I believe the facts say. By and large democracy is not receding.

One problem in the measurement debate is that we expect too much. From the mid 1970s to the early 1990s the number of democracies in the world rose from around 45 to an astonishing 120, well over half of the world’s population.

How can we reasonably expect all these to succeed? Read the rest of this entry »

 

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