January 31, 2011
About (general) interest and other necessary demythisations
Yesterday I was sitting in the bus 21, the most European one here in Bruxelles, as it rumbles around the EU Quartier and wise guys bearing appropriate access passes to these Institutions are allowed also to take this bus for free. It is never too crowded and I could notice there was quite an old vehicle this time, with dirty used seats exhaling dodgy odors. At Place du Luxembourg, just in front of European Parliament, our European bus had a minor accrochage with a taxi and the inevitable dispute began. The way belligerents tried to settle the matter, their words, attitude and approach reminded me of some familiar scenes back in Bucharest where I was born. This Balkanic atmosphere consolidated and corroborated with the decrepitude of my bus, or with smiling holes appeared on the streets’ asphalt after last Christmas winter attack made me realize that Brussels is trying to do its best to make me feel more and more AT HOME, here in the capital of Europe, like in the old good times in Bucharest – the capital of… Romania, you guessed it! I am living in this really cosmopolitan, contrasting yet indeed accommodating, acquiring town for more than 8 years now, and as Belgian resident I see Bruxelles as my place to rope my horse and go to sleep, so to speak… the undoubtedly home sweet home for the time being and chocolate sake. At the same time, one can easily observe over the years a constant trend towards degradation, lowering of living standards and unexpected mutation in mentalities. Is it a question of political governance, is it due to mondialisation, (d)evolution of socio-economic systems, growth models, including ecological aspects and permanently increasing damage to our natural habitats?
I watched on FR3 – Ce soir (ou jamais !), a debate fueled by Frederic Taddeï, the subjects were generous and extremely actual i.e. democracy, légitimité, oligarchy, exercise of power and representation of interests. INTEREST – voici a fundamental category in my view, a constant that should be accommodated in all equations associated with explanatory approaches of any social, political, economic phenomena. Personal, family or group INTERESTS are the ultimate engine, alpha et omega of every human-related activity, but also seem to aspire at Secret de Polichinelle status. The truth is people are not really keen to include the naughty INTEREST and its egoistische reflections on their public agenda, and especially in the public space. Moreover, those who dare to speak of the devil in the cozy house of complaisant civility, thermo-insulated or should I say reality-insulated with nice good manners and intentions, the rebels are considered bizarre mutants, merely suspects and eventually personae non gratae. The intensity of rejection is surely directly proportional with the intrinsic power of respective omnipotent argument – fatalmente the good old INTEREST. I believe this anthropological cornerstone should be exploited throughouly and systematically for its veritable enlightening value in serious discussions.
Anyway, the chaps invited at the respective TV program affirmed unequivocally that nowadays we are far from living in a democracy, demonstrating the appartenance to oligarchic systems in entire Western block, including and highlighting the leading position of US for its illustrative military oligarchy component. For I fully subscribe to describing the oligarchical complex as a solid quadrate representation – a natural mixture of 4 spheres of influence/constituents id est military, politics, business, plutocracy. Obviously the combination, juxtaposition and mutual potentiating between these 4 elements defers for each country, but basically the so-called power of the people appears to be merely a (super)flu notion without decisive, consistent ability or woe!… even will to manage, control and authentically influence anything relevant. Perhaps I would also detect a crucial catalyst and unavoidable interface for the oligarchic complex to interact with masses… I give you the omnipresent Mass-Media… Applause! Normally and for the time being, this 5th element cannot be seen as intrinsic component part of oligarchic complex, with some exceptions, see for example the Italian case.
I would mention also the balanced character of respective FR3 program moderated by le glandeur Frédéric Taddeï, an equidistant TV animateur, who invites well-known cultural personalities without particular extremist views. Here are 3 more appealing observations from the participants:
1. In fact only 10% of the ancient Athenians were engaged with the democratic process and even more important, the daily ordinary work was made by slaves. This was platitudinous memo for those apologetically claiming a return to basics.
2. The acceptance of the wealthy class in the society is based on the assumption that they produce richesse for the others. Well, in the last 10 years it seems more likely the ever polarized well-to-do class delivers mainly bubbles, crises and structural dysfunctionalities.
3. The decline of democracy as supreme value and governance model in contemporary society paradoxically began with the fall of Berlin Wall 20 years ago and implosion of communism. Why is that so?… as a Romanian native I lived my first 30 years under a communist regime, so my comparative grasp is far from being merely an intellectualist approach. I remember very well the spring of ‘90 when I first got out from the communist jaily-camp driving to Stuttgart to meet my relatives. By that time it was absolutely inconceivable to imagine any cracks on Autobahnen in Österreich oder Deutschland. Now it is common fact to accept holes, blocked roads by snow or never-ending stau stories, caused by questionable management of public authorities. Growing despise for ratepayers’ expectations is still incompetently camouflaged behind formal smiles or reasoning, and any financial crisis, economic recession or budgetary constrains are the perfect alibi for justifying NIMBY- je m’en fiche policies.
A few years ago I asked a good friend who once lived in the former USSR why the end of cold war and Iron Curtain resulted in regress of developed West. His answer was simply astonishing then, but now it makes more and more sense. He argued that the capitalist world needed inseparably a concurrencial pressure, a motivation incentive and a watchdog. One could also see here some prerequisite for a market-related mechanism and consequently a scary conclusion might be acknowledged: democracy was simply an export commodity and when the export market seized to exist the respective product life cycle curve has taken the descendent slope.
Since then, it is worth stressing that the poor, underdeveloped former communist countries from Central and Eastern Europe are continuously assisting the patronizing Western economies in enlarging their businesses/markets, in selling their products, services and knowledge, in providing safe investment opportunities. The Central European societies are also providing the hypocritical West with underrated, overqualified and motivated labor force, transfusing fresh blood into an often aging freakish body. Hope to be spared by cheap diversionary political subterfuges such as Rroma issue, dumping labor, or funky non-tax working, as if the employers were registered on Mars. Or is it probably a matter again and again of meeting the personal INTEREST instead of a chimerical general one? In fact the contribution of the New Members in EU club was recognized as so by former Commissioner and Vice-President of EC – Günter Verheugen. But he was a poet too, so…
Closing the parenthesis, INTEREST and necessary demythisations could be the beginning of a coherent explanation for understanding the true functionality of nowadays world. I reckon some innovative approaches are badly needed and certain bluntness appears to be unavoidable. For clichés and deceivingly pretending behavior define simply an accomplice attitude, obliterating real causes and perpetuating ineffective treatment.
In this respect, Bruxelles would represent a resourceful trampoline in launching some unorthodox analysis regarding politics, European integration and governance, efficiency of public administration or other forms of bureaucracy, consultation of citizens and actual processes of decision-making, including lobby and elite relationships domination, etc.
If one considered my judgment too catastrophic and partially exaggerated on the pessimistic side, I would call Jean Gabin to witness in 1961 in Le Président par Henri Verneuil – Petite leçon d’Europe
It shall be also the perfect introduction for my future interventions on these themes.
Accredited lobbyist to EP/EC
bromotion.euAuthor : Bromotion
bruxelles, bucharest, Ce soir (ou jamais !), citizen, democracy, demythisation, EC, English, Frederic Taddeï, Günter Verheugen, interest, Jean Gabin, mondialisation, oligarchy, Romania, Secret de Polichinelle