Opinion: (Philip Stephens, Financial Times columnist): “The story of 2011 has been of the advance of democracy and the failure of democracies. In the Arab world, tyrants have fallen on the region’s political awakening. In rich nations, elected leaders have been frozen in crisis. Welcome to another of the paradoxes of the new global disorder.
“I do not recall the advance predictions that the good news this year would come from the Arab street; nor that the bad news would see a Greek debt crisis turn into an existential threat to half a century of European integration. We are in an age that habitually defies the easy assumptions of the old order. The passing of two centuries of western hegemony will be an unpredictable and uncomfortable experience.
“The road to democracy will be uneven. Americans and Europeans will not like some of the choices made by newly-emancipated citizens. But then the west still clings to its own double standards, cheering the uprisings in the Maghreb while hoping the autocrats cling on in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.
“I have lost count of the number of summits called to save the euro.
“Some blame the system. The single currency was always flawed; Washington has been paralysed by congressional gerrymandering. But you cannot leave out the personalities. Europe is governed by followers. Barack Obama once looked different. In the event, a big orator has turned out a small president.
“The thread that runs across the Atlantic is one of popular disenchantment with political establishments. Whether it is fear of the bond markets or competition from rising economies, governments are trapped between global economics and local politics.
“It is no good blaming democracy. As the well-worn saying goes, it is the worst of political systems save for all the others. If there is a bright spot in the sea of bleakness it is that autocrats everywhere have even more to fear from 2012.”
My Comment: The fears of the poor and rich, ordinary people and autocrats, together with hesitation and a lack of decisions will lead to despair, or a world war, or the opportunity to hear a “ridiculous” solution: to strive for integration based on general integral education and upbringing. The method and materials, teachers and educators are ready!