Opinion (Slavoj Žižek, Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic, professor at the European Graduate School): “The idea is that, in a complex economic situation like today’s, the majority of the people are not qualified to decide – they are unaware of the catastrophic consequences that would ensue if their demands were to be met.
“This line of argument is not new. In a TV interview a couple of years ago, the sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf linked the growing distrust for democracy to the fact that, after every revolutionary change, the road to new prosperity leads through a ‘valley of tears.’ After the breakdown of socialism, one cannot directly pass to the abundance of a successful market economy: limited, but real, socialist welfare and security have to be dismantled, and these first steps are necessarily painful. The same goes for Western Europe, where the passage from the post-second world war welfare state to the new global economy involves painful renunciations, less security, less guaranteed social care. For Dahrendorf, the problem is encapsulated by the simple fact that this painful passage through the ‘valley of tears’ lasts longer than the average period between elections, so that the temptation is great to postpone the difficult changes for the short-term electoral gains.
“For him, the paradigm here is the disappointment of the large strata of post-communist nations with the economic results of the new democratic order: in the glorious days of 1989, they equated democracy with the abundance of western consumerist societies; and 20 years later, with the abundance still missing, they now blame democracy itself. …
“What is new today is that, with the financial crisis that began in 2008, this same distrust of democracy – once constrained to the third world or post-communist developing countries – is gaining ground in the developed west itself: what was a decade or two ago patronising advice to others now concerns ourselves.
“The least one can say is that this crisis offers proof that it is not the people but experts themselves who do not know what they are doing. In Western Europe we are effectively witnessing a growing inability of the ruling elite – they know less and less how to rule. Look at how Europe is dealing with the Greek crisis: putting pressure on Greece to repay debts, but at the same time ruining its economy through imposed austerity measures and thereby making sure that the Greek debt will never be repaid. …
“And therein resides the true message of the ‘irrational’ popular protests all around Europe: The protesters know very well what they don’t know; they don’t pretend to have fast and easy answers; but what their instinct is telling them is nonetheless true – that those in power also don’t know it. In Europe today, the blind are leading the blind.
My Comment: The process of growing should break out in the leading countries to force management to recognize its inability to understand and control what is happening. At the same time, more people will recognize the need to change their attitude towards themselves and the world, feeling the necessity to change not the world, its management, system, but to change the human being first, by way of the widespread implementation of a short course (2-3 months) in integral education, to raise awareness of the general population to the level where nature forces us to rise. After that, it is possible to introduce gradual reforms at all levels and systems of society.