Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Political thaw is setting in, but it happens in a void

Both Europe and the United States have experienced a marked increase in the popularity of hard line, rightist policies over the past five years or so. This tide seems to have reached its outer limits. Obviously, the victory in the US Congress Mid Term Elections of the Democrats is one indication of a potential shift to a climate that is more amenable to leftist approaches. In my own country, the upcoming elections (Nov 22) are equally expected to boost the left side of the spectrum, although it remains highly uncertain whether this wil actually constitute a shift of power. In this period too, France is getting prepared for the Presidential election, and so far it seems that candidates on the left side hold the greatest appeal. Germany, as always, continues to keep all tides in a balance.

Where are the new concepts and solutions?
Having said this, I am inclined to take a cautionary view of the developments as they emerge at present. Much of the voting seems to be a vote against (the right) rather than a deliberate vote in favor (of the left). Secondly, it cannot be said that ‘the left’ has produced an articulate and appealing vision, anywhere. It has become abundantly clear that our time is especially barren in terms of (new) concepts and convincing (new) solutions to key problems both in the political scene and at the level of shared, global themes such as our environment and the difficulties of providing the bare necessities for an ever growing world population. So what do we buy, under those conditions, for any political ‘thaw’ or shift to the left? As much as I can see, they will, for the time being, only serve to protract the muddle created by the right, and increase the uneasiness among many – at all sides of the spectrum – as politicians continue to fail to address pressing social and economic issues.

New leadership and courage
One way or the other, the right moment for new leadership has not yet arrived. One cannot conceive of any substantive leadership in a void. There has to be the power of vision, and the power of persuasion, which most likely will only be nourished as the muddle progresses a little further down the slope. When appeasement doesn’t work, nor any retained hawkish policy; when new perpectives emerge, and the old perspectives are finally put to rest.

In my estimate, this is likely to take another few years, three – perhaps five. In the mean time, mediocrity will reign,with just a few flickerings of new light on the horizon. The rest is a matter of courage, and opportunity. There is no reason whatsoever not to take up our courage and grasp opportunity even in the smallest context. Your nor I really need to wait.


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