How the news would look if everyone stopped waffling and told the truth.
Saturday, 5 May 2012
The "There's No Alternative" Argument.
Politicians, especially those unable to defend their patently harmful and ridiculous policies, are very fond of the "There's no alternative" argument. But, all too often and to paraphrase Ben Johnson, it is the last refuge of the scoundrel. It is a particular favourite of both David Cameron and Nick Clegg, Sarkozy, battling to retain the French Presidency, mutters it like a mantra as does Angela Merkel, though she's usually referring to other nations having to bear the pain to save Germany. Yesterday provided a particularly fine example of the argument from Evangelos Venizelos (pictured above), leader of Greece's Pasok party, when he warned his countrymen that voting against austerity would lead to "mass poverty." He urged Greeks to keep "on a course that is difficult but safe." Safe for whom? In case Mr Venizelos has failed to notice, and the size of his jowells suggests he might, the Greek people are already suffering from "mass poverty" with worse to come. There are dark warnings being muttered all across Europe about the "far-right" and a new Nazism sweeping the continent. Yet the very politicians who like to frighten us in our beds are, at the same time, able to wash their hands of all responsibility by suggesting that such an outcome would be our fault for not listening to their "no alternative" rubbish. If the far-right does make gains in Europe it will be beacuse our political elites failed to protect us against the greed and stupidity of the bankers and because they have neither the imagination or the courage to recognise that failure and do something about it. Where leaders have taken their courage in both hands and told us that, despite the years of political elites mainlining on neoliberal economics, we actually do have a choice, things are actually improving. The most obvious example can be seen in Barak Obama's America which has the advantage of simply being too big to be ignored by the media, especially the BBC. A better example, but one that has been successfully ignored, can be seen in Iceland where bankers and members of the political elite have been put on trial, a new constitution has been hammered out by the electorate themselves and two fingers have been very firmly shown to the banks and international finance. It seems European politicians don't like complicated ideas prefering, instead, to offer electorates a straight choice bewteen the same old failed policies or armageddon. But there is an alternative and it is no that difficult to do. It also has the added advantage that bankers and international financiers really, really don't like it. That alone should recommend it as a course of action.