If the surprise outcome of the recent UK referendum - on whether to leave or remain in the European Union - teaches us anything, it is that supposedly worthy displays of democracy in action can actually do more harm than good. Witness a nation now more divided; an intergenerational schism in the making; both a governing and opposition party torn to shreds from the inside; infinitely more complex issues raised than satisfactory solutions provided. It begs the question 'Was it really all worth it' ?
We love being mentally strong, but we hate situations that allow us to put our mental strength to good use.
Hardship bred a bitter, quickfire humour and resilience to all but the most terminal of life's tragedies.
Seriousness is too boring to the playful human condition. A heart of stone that has a long face can never express love.
For it wasn't the secret--the secret that wasn't a secret anyway--that led to austerity in our lives. It was the austerity that led to the secret. And what I had been marked by, probably most of all, was the austerity. It had made secrets in my life too. Or silences, anyway, that became secrets. That became lies.
In the large sense, I have to disagree with Bakunin, one thing austerity rhetoric has suggested is that when the people are being beaten with a stick, they are much happier if the media call it the People’s Democratic Stick.
It appears - because it has been the case for twenty years - that every problem is solvable...that no matter how badly the world economy slumps there is a pain-free way out of it. Once the realization dawns that there is not, and that the pain will be severe, the question is posed that has not really been posed for twenty years: who should feel it?
...the centrality of competitiveness as the key to growth is a recurrent EU motif. Two decades of EC directives on increasing competition in every area, from telecommunications to power generation to collateralizing wholesale funding markets for banks, all bear the same ordoliberal imprint. Similarly, the consistent focus on the periphery states’ loss of competitiveness and the need for deep wage and cost reductions therein, while the role of surplus countries in generating the crisis is utterly ignored, speaks to a deeply ordoliberal understanding of economic management. Savers, after all, cannot be sinners. Similarly, the most recent German innovation of a constitutional debt brake (Schuldenbremse) for all EU countries regardless of their business cycles or structural positions, coupled with a new rules-based fiscal treaty as the solution to the crisis, is simply an ever-tighter ordo by another name.If states have broken the rules, the only possible policy is a diet of strict austerity to bring them back into conformity with the rules, plus automatic sanctions for those who cannot stay within the rules. There are no fallacies of composition, only good and bad policies. And since states, from an ordoliberal viewpoint, cannot be relied upon to provide the necessary austerity because they are prone to capture, we must have rules and an independent monetary authority to ensure that states conform to the ordo imperative; hence, the ECB. Then, and only then, will growth return. In the case of Greece and Italy in 2011, if that meant deposing a few democratically elected governments, then so be it.The most remarkable thing about this ordoliberalization of Europe is how it replicates the same error often attributed to the Anglo-American economies: the insistence that all developing states follow their liberal instruction sheets to get rich, the so-called Washington Consensus approach to development that we shall discuss shortly. The basic objection made by late-developing states, such as the countries of East Asia, to the Washington Consensus/Anglo-American idea “liberalize and then growth follows” was twofold. First, this understanding mistakes the outcomes of growth, stable public finances, low inflation, cost competitiveness, and so on, for the causes of growth. Second, the liberal path to growth only makes sense if you are an early developer, since you have no competitors—pace the United Kingdom in the eighteenth century and the United States in the nineteenth century. Yet in the contemporary world, development is almost always state led.