The Spanish dilemma: a blessing in disguise ??
20/08/2012 Deja un comentario
“People only accept change when they are faced with necessity, and only recognize necessity when crisis is upon them”. (Jean Monnet). On July 19 as Spain’s Popular Party approved a string of austerity measures the Spanish daily El Pais termed ‘draconian’, many would probably find immense validity in Monnet’s words. The stereotype is well known: the ‘lazy’ Mediterraneans, audaciously termed as PIGS, have for long lived beyond their means and it is time they accept ‘drastic’ changes in the face of crisis. Of course, the EU-wide statistics have long deemed such ‘accusations’ wildly inaccurate. But, as the Spaniards across the societal spectrum take the street to say ‘NO’ to cuts, many would claim as being undemocratic, insensitive, increasingly inhuman, the creation of an ideal environment for real change may already be under way, although not in the manner that the likes of Merkel would endorse (…..) Despite attempts to question prudence of popular dissent, Spaniards have kept returning to the streets, with the movement’s legitimacy on the rise. But while most would admit that the austerity measures are here to stay and that the plight of the people will get worse before it gets better, opportunities for foundational change seems to be round the corner. Coming on heels of Arab Spring the impetus shown by Spanish activists since March 15, 2011 has not only elevated our faith in popular contention but has shaken us from slumber of being politically and socially uninvolved and ignorant. But more critically as Spain seems to have lost all its sovereignty in the face of demands placed by Eurozone leaders and as Spaniards feel brunt of the same, it has given us an opportunity to reevaluate some of foundational ‘truth’ of the global monetary regime. As the first reports emerge of the manipulation of the LIBOR rates, the fundamental corruption of international financial practices has once again been confirmed. We need to ask who the ‘system’ is really geared at protecting. Why is it that it is seen as prudent to prop up Spanish banks while the Spanish people are pushed to socioeconomic misery? Why is it that the vitality of faceless financial institutions is prioritized over the future of Spanish youth? In times of crisis airwaves are filled with ideological hyperbole all claiming to have right answers. But as Spain’s ‘generacion cero’ stare down a dismal future, the conversation needs to go beyond such ‘superficial’ parameters. With nothing to lose and current political and economic institutions edging towards complete illegitimacy, it is the ideal situation to question the very basis, logic, of how they are organized. Beyond simplistic critiques of capitalism, one must realize corruption lies in the very manner in which we have so far organized our societies. We may adopt new ideologies but if we aren’t cured of the malaise that has so far pushed millions into insecurity and marginality we will have achieved very little. So, while many in Spain, especially the youth, feel they have no future, maybe this is their destiny. Let us rethink who we are, what the basis of a good society is. It is only then we can hope to have real and durable change, in the face of urgent necessity.