Sunday, 1 February 2009

Wind Of Change In Europe

As the recession bites, there is a sense of something in the air in Europe that doesn't bode well for not only the Governments but the entire system that they run their countries by.
Almost 20 years ago many Governments in the East of Europe ditched communism and put their faith in a capitalist system much feted by the West. This very same system is now in crisis and quite rightly, the people have every reason to feel betrayed but it isn't just the former communist bloc that citizens are taking to the streets. The big, wealthy democracies of Western Europe are also hearing the growing mumblings of discontent and as Europe's time of troubles deepen, Governments are right to be worried as revolt is in the air.
This weekend France was at standstill by a wave of strike action and riots over growing unemployment, wildcat strikes hit the length and breadth of Britain as oil workers downed tools over job security and the bringing in of Italian and Portuguese workers. Angry protesters gathered in Hungary as unemployment rockets, Greek farmers joined students to blockade motorways and major roads, Latvia witnessed 15,000 demonstrators rampaging through the capital and trying to storm the parliament.
Ukraine, Lithuania and Iceland have also seen violent protests and if the pundits are to believed, the economic situation is going to get much worse before it gets any better and it will be in the East Europeans countries where the recession is going to make the most changes to the political landscape as the inevitable calls grow for a return to Communism.
The conclusion that they are rapidly reaching is that they have lost the attractive sides of communism (subsidized housing, cheap fuel, guaranteed jobs) as well as the less desirable aspects (secret police, censorship).
That is the trade off and they would have every right to ask questions about the economic system that they have adopted and was sold to them by the West as the route to economic wealth and stability.
Governments will fall as things grow worse and the East European Parliaments look the most fragile and susceptible to a revolution. The irony is that it was two decades of Capitalism that made Communism look attractive again to those who have lived through both and decide that the disadvantages of Capitalism far outweigh the disadvantages of Communism.

11 comments:

Cody Bones said...

No, Lucy, I don't think that a recession, which BTW will ALWAYS happen in capitalism, will be enough to make people return to the hell that was eastern Europe. My guess is that they like the whole "freedom" thing a little too much. That and being able to not have to inform on their neighbors seems to balance out the recession thing. Please tell me what would happen to the first country to impose communism? It would be a mass exodus of the best and the brightest, secure in the knowledge that they can survive and thrive anywhere. The country will have to close it's borders, and we know EXACTLY what happens after that. Sorry Lucy, but the human race will NEVER function as an ant colony. TANSTAAFL. There is a cost to everything. Subsidized housing? Costs money, cheap fuel? Not only costs money, but also leads to greater global warming. There is a cost to everything, and freedom is too big of a cost for my liking.

Lucy said...

Depends on the packaging Cody. If i sold a package that would guarantee 100% employment, cheap housing and cheap fuel against a system that has high unemployment, a housing market which priced out a large majority of the public and cheap fuel, wouldn't anyone be interested?
Throw in a few tales of banks collapsing taking the publics savings with it and how you can work 40 hours a week and still not earn enough to pay off your bills and how large swathes survive only by building up a unhealthy amount of debt and that on average every decade there will be a massive slump when it all goes wrong, and people will be clamouring for something else.

Don said...

I wouldn't be interested, cuz I know the unspoken cost of stagnation, no choice in jobs, deteriorating housing, and hospitals that breed more disease than they can cure. But if the Euros want to go socialist again, let them. Less competition for Asia and the Americas where I like to think there are still some people with vision. When the EU breaks up and Europe once again become a source point for global war, by then we'll hopefully have steadier allies somewhere else.

Sorry, just not sympathetic. Hitler and Stalin kind of turned me off to the whole populism thing.

Noah "Nog" M. said...

Yeah, by all means, let them go commie again. All of their best will come over here to the States. Sure, we'll pass some welfare laws, but not at the rate that y'all Euros will.

All of those great strides y'all have made in standing toe-to-toe with us will go away.

And it would be a pity for all of those Eastern Europeans. They seem to be in the habit of rushing to be yoked by tyrants until it is far too late for them to break free.

Desires for "stability" are almost always devoid of foresight or understanding. Nobody ever achieved anything spectacular by taking the well trodden path. I'd think they would wonder why so many inventions and innovations come out of The United States and Western Europe.

-Nog

Cheezy said...

Oooh, this one's gotten a few backs up! :)

My reading of the situation is that the recession isn't the death-knell for capitalism - just for the completely unfettered & unregulated variety that Allan Greenspan et al used to promote (before he saw the light).

Return to communism? Not gonna happen.

Lucy said...

I don't think it will happen either but it is a perfectly valid point for the members of the former Communist Block to ask what economic advantages has Capitalism bought them and as time goes on the 'old ways' become romanticised.
I am all for uniting us all in one big United States of Europe personally and becoming the World superpower. Except Scotland maybe, they can become an American state if they want.

Cheezy said...

There's an idea. Maybe we can promote it as a place for American tourists to visit if they're finding Alaska too warm and sunny? ;)

Cody Bones said...

First you dump on the birthplace of Adam Smith, and then you have the temerity to offer us THEM? Sorry, I'll see your Dour Scots and raise the Irish. Bet to you Lucy.

Cheezy said...

Careful, or we'll send you the Welsh. And they spit.

Lucy said...

You can take the Scots, Irish and Welsh in exchange for those lovely Canadians.

Cody Bones said...

Done and Done, but you have to come pick up Celine Dion immediately.