By Ad astra
As we enter the Festive Season, we reflect on the year past and the one ahead. It’s a time when Christians celebrate Christmas and other special days, Jewish folk enjoy Hanukkah, Mexicans celebrate the Fiesta of our Lady of Guadalupe, and Swedes celebrate St Lucia Day. The New Year is ushered in as an opportunity for new hope. For Chinese this is their most important celebration.
Yet this cheerful time for so many is defiled by widespread, unremitting anger all around the world. Why is it so? Is there a remedy for this simmering malaise? What can we ordinary citizens do?
As I explored what title I might use for this piece, and toyed with Why is there so much anger I found that it had already been used on The Political Sword over three years ago, way back in June 2016. I was disappointed as I re-read that piece and realised that nothing much has changed since then – the genesis of the anger is the same, only the players have changed.
My conclusion then was: It is social injustice that is the root of all of this. Inequity, unfairness, disadvantage, the over-abundance of have-nots in our wealthy society, and the experience of marginalisation that induces anger, and in extreme cases radicalisation and violence.
You may care to glance through the piece and quickly read some of the excerpts. Be prepared to be dismayed though, because little has altered since then.
At this time of year, you won’t want to read a long report of the anger that still grips the world. Suffice it is to draw your attention to what has been going on in France these past weeks. You will have seen on TV the widespread disorder throughout that nation, particularly in Paris where there have been violent riots, over a hundred injured, thousands detained, treasured icons defaced, cars burned out, shop windows smashed, and property destroyed. Much of the destruction has been caused by gangs of ‘casseurs’, urban guerrillas determined to loot and pillage, some of whom wear gilets jaunes. Among the ‘yellow vest’ protesters were black-clad and masked youths who likely belong to ultra-right, ultra-left, or anarchist groups, all taking advantage of the chaos.
All this is the result of President Macron’s economic policies, which, in the view of the gilets jaunes, punish members of the lower and middle classes with taxes on pensions and a fuel tax rise, while rewarding the rich with tax breaks. As one of them said: “Today, the poor are losing their rights. It’s understandable that we’re angry.”
The protests have now spread to Belgium, inspired by falling wages, rising costs of living, rising costs of healthcare, privatisation of essential services, cultural disruption as a result of heavy migration, and growing unemployment.
So here we are again – inequity once more is the prime cause of the anger. Widespread social injustice leaves the poor feeling disadvantaged, disconnected, disenfranchised, and languishing in poverty and hopelessness.
Since time immemorial the poor have been left behind, but those at the top seem not to notice. In his brilliant book: The Price of Inequality Nobel Laureate in Economics, Joseph Stiglitz, wrote: “The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live.” The Paris riots are intended to highlight this – to send a clarion call to those who will listen that the inequality that the poor now suffer, the inequality that will worsen with Macron’s policies, can no longer be tolerated. Forced now to reverse the punitive ones, he hopes to restore order and revive the shattered French economy, but that may be problematic as freeloaders have now blighted the protests with their own extreme agendas. The future for France looks bleak.
What can be done? Is there a remedy?
If ever there was a time to foster hope, it is the Season ahead. Our politicians though will not, indeed cannot help. They are imprisoned by ideologies that shackle their thinking and restrict their actions. In the same way that they refuse to act on the other grave existential crisis we face – climate change – they will not act on inequality and social injustice. It is simply too hard, too inconvenient, too demanding. Progressive politicians might – conservatives can’t and won’t.
Can we, the ordinary folk that get the chance to vote only now and again, do anything at all? Yes, we have a voice.
Never before have there been such opportunities for us to express our views, our desires, our hopes for our nation. Social media abound with opportunities for us to say what we think, how we feel, and what we need. Everyone can use them. They are especially suited to those who cannot join street protests. This site is among a few select political blog sites that expresses views, encourages debate, and suggests remedies. Use it to say what you think and feel, what you want for yourself, your family, your community, and your nation. If we sit mute, no one will hear, no one can hear. If we speak up loudly and often enough, the politicians cannot avoid us.
So with our Season’s Greetings, we seek to hold your hand. Will you join those of us who publish The Political Sword to make it vibrant and influential? Will you add your comments as each piece emerges? If you do, we can change the course of our nation, we can prevail on our politicians to act, we can calm the anger and foster a warm, compassionate and caring society.
There is a remedy – it is all of us.
This was The Political Sword’s last offering for 2018. TPS will resume publication early in February 2019.
This article was originally published on The Political Sword.
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