Belgium has joined the list of countries that are rebelling against their elected leadership. Over the weekend the Belgian government fell over Prime Minister Charles Michel’s (pictured) trip to Morocco to sign the United Nations Migration Agreement. The agreement made no distinction between legal and illegal migrants and regarded immigration as a positive phenomenon. The Belgian people apparently did not agree. Facebook registered 1,200 Belgians agreeing that the Prime Minister was a traitor. Some users expressed concern for their children’s futures, noting that Belgian democracy is dead. Others said they would get yellow vests and join the protests.
The unrest witnessed in a number of places is focused on some specific demands, but it represents much broader anger. The French yellow vests initially protested against proposed increases in fuel taxes that would have affected working people dependent on transportation disproportionately. But when that demand was met by the government of President Emmanuel Macron, the demonstrations continued and even grew, suggesting that the grievances with the government were far more extensive than the issue of a single new tax. Perhaps not surprisingly, the French government is seeking a scapegoat and is investigating “Russian interference.” The US State Department inevitably agrees, claiming that Kremlin directed websites and social media are “amplifying the conflict.”
Some commentators looking somewhat more deeply at the riots in France have even suggested that the real issue just might be regime change, that the Macron government had become so disconnected with many of the voters through both its policies and the rhetoric justifying them that it had lost its legitimacy and there was no possibility of redemption. Any change would have to be an improvement, particularly as a new regime would be particularly sensitive to the sentiments of those being governed, at least initially. One might suggest that the prevailing sentiment that a radical change in government is needed, come what may, to shake up the system might well be called the “Trump phenomenon” as that is more-or-less what happened in the United States.
The idea that republican or democratic government will eventually deteriorate into some form of tyranny is not exactly new. Thomas Jefferson advocated a new revolution every generation to keep the spirit of government accountable to the people alive.
Call it what you will – neoliberalism, neoconservatism or globalism – the new world order, as recently deceased President George H.W. Bush once labeled it, characteristically embraces a world community in which there is free trade, free movement of workers and democracy. They all sound like good things but they are authoritarian in nature, destructive of existing communities and social systems while at the same time enriching those who promote the changes. They have also been the root cause of most of the wars fought since the Second World War, wars to “liberate” people who never asked to be invaded or bombed as part of the process.
And there are, of course, major differences between neoliberals and neoconservatives in terms of how one brings about the universal nirvana, with the liberals embracing some kind of process whereby the transformation takes place because it represents what they see, perhaps cynically, as the moral high ground and is recognized as being the right thing to do. The neocons, however, seek to enforce what they define as international standards because the United States has the power to do so in a process that makes it and its allies impossible to challenge. The latter view is promoted under the phony slogan that “Democracies do not fight other democracies.”
The fact that globalists of every type consider nationalism a threat to their broader ambitions has meant that parochial or domestic interests are often disregarded or even rejected. With that in mind, and focusing on two issues – wholesale unwelcome immigration and corrupt government run by oligarchs – one might reasonably argue that large numbers of ordinary citizens now believe themselves to be both effectively disenfranchised and demonstrably poorer as rewarding work becomes harder to find and communities are destroyed through waves of both legal and illegal immigration.
In the United States, for example, most citizens now believe that the political system does not work at all while almost none think that, even when it does work, it operates for the well-being of all the citizens. For the first time since the Great Depression, Americans no longer think of upward mobility. Projections by sociologists and economists suggest that the current generation growing up in the United States will likely be materially poorer than their parents. That angst and the desire to “do something” to make government more responsive to voters’ interests is why Donald Trump was elected president.
What has been occurring in Belgium, France, with Brexit in Britain, in the recent election in Italy, and also in the warnings coming from Eastern Europe about immigration and European Union community economic policies are driven by the same concerns that operated in America. Government itself is becoming the enemy. And let us not forget the countries that have already felt the lash and been subjected to the social engineering of Angela Merkel – Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Greece. All are weaker economies crushed by the one size fits all of the EURO, which eliminated the ability of some governments to manage their own economies. They and all their citizens are poorer for it.
There have been windows in history when the people have had enough abuse and so rise up in revolt. The American and French revolutions come to mind as does 1848. Perhaps we are experiencing something like that at the present time, a revolt against the pressure to conform to globalist values that have been embraced to their benefit by the elites and the establishment in much of the world. It could well become a hard fought and sometimes bloody conflict but its outcome will shape the next century. Will the people really have power in the increasingly globalized world or will it be the 1% with its government and media backing that emerges triumphant?
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