Looked at what I could find on the Republican presidential debates. Mathias Sundin writes on his blog about it but I decided to take a look myself to get a feel for the candidates. By now there is in principle only Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich left the couple of weeks before the election. Romney is the stable one and Gingrich is getting all kinds of critique but is most popular in the polls right now. That is a pity. I think Romney comes across at the most suitable candidate. As a businessman and former governor he would be able to contact the important business sector that Obama has alienated himself from. As a former governor that has balanced budgets and gotten rid of a deficit he has the right experience. He also personally comes across as the most presidential of the candidates. He returns to the subject of reorganizing America for growth and function all the time when other candidates get lost in details. Republican candidates are really serious about not increasing federal spending something that just gets lost here in Europe because of the way they tax and spend here. They say that they don’t afford increasing spending, period. There is apparently also a discussion on how to change Medicare which is totally unfunded by now. If the republican voter choses Gingrich rather than the moderate Romney there would be a distinct shift to the right. Gingrich have said he would choose the firebrand John Bolton, the UN ambassador of George W Bush, to become his Secretary of State. I could not see the US with this package. Also Romney is scoring better against Obama than Gingrich and thus would have a greater chance of becoming president.
I salute David Cameron for his veto to the EU because I think I have become more conservative and appreciate the maintenance of Anglo-American culture versus the new form of polity that is emerging in Europe under the leadership of Germany. Liberal seems to mean merging the Anglo-American culture with the Continental which is not realistic. Gideon Rachman points out in his column that the Netherlands and France seem to be hanging rather lose in the new constellation formed. France because the socialists, if they win in the spring, would opt against. What I don’t like with the Germans so far is the strong anti-Americanism displayed in their English propaganda magazine Spiegel Online International. The English journals and magazines are more neutral against Germany.
Sweden has ended up in a precarious situation the reason for which I am a little unsure. I had this idea that the Swedes that historically have had a soft spot for the strong leader would have liked the EU and to become more of a guided citizen of Europe than a member of the “free world” now when crisis strikes and federalism is back on the agenda. Many politicians and industry in Sweden are German and would like an EMU membership but the populace is to 80% against this development currently. This surprised me actually and the question is if this is Germanophobia, Anglophilia, or just holding tight in your wallet for southern profligacy? The fact that English is used in media and music to a great extent in Sweden probably adds to the ambivalence. Birgitta Ohlsson, the EU minister, Jan Björklund, party leader in the People’s Party, and Carl B Hamilton, chairman of the EU commission today write in Svenska Dagbladetthat Sweden should join the “core of Europe”. That would mean EMU membership or at least membership in the new coalition. The new suggested Left Party leader Jonas Sjöstedt immediately takes a point that they act against the people. It is interesting to find Tories side by side with Swedish Left Partiers!
People are demonstrating in Italy because of Monti’s austerity measures which raise the question if the German austerity way is actually going to destabilize Europe. If these problems become more severe this might lead to a notion from the market that a federalization attempt of the Eurozone would not add to financial improvement. People seem therefore have lost hope and walk out on the street without a clear objective. They do not sense the reality of the emergency. Large numbers are just large numbers and not years of hard work with less to balance the books. They feel unfairly treated and cheated by everybody. Almost all serious writes that publish in the free media diagnose the problem as a problem of a widening gap between the rich and the poor. In order to entice investors Merkozy let the private investors off the hook in the deal and loaded the problem onto the taxpayers, something that did not show very clearly in the aftermath.
What kind of new culture is forming under Germany on the Continent then? It is different both in its economy and in its general culture. Germany is well founded in philosophy, literature and music but it is not clear exactly where they stand politically, except that they have a right of center and a left of center party with a strong former communist block as of recently. Catholicism will be a strong factor in its development. They even have a German-born and raised Pope. That is a factor that ameliorates the fusion with Poland but not with Sweden. Britain is a more secular and religiously open-minded country which fits better with the liberal immigration politics of Sweden. The Orthodox Greeks are culturally and economically way out as I pointed out before. How does Catholicism influence people then compared to a more secular religiously open-minded setting. It could have an effect on the degree of privacy due to the culture of the Confession. Personally I believe strongly that maintaining privacy is a survival factor for future civilizations.
What does Britain have to offer the Swedes then? Its culture multiplies the knowledge-factor via the second language with a factor of at least ten times. We can directly access the Anglo-American literature and all its text books for academia. Unless Sweden would go back to German as a second language they will always have problems on the Continent. The problem there for the Germans is clear. Their language does not sound that attractive so it does not work as efficiently to foster a culture as English. Therefore there is a risk that there will be harder power than what would be needed in the English case. In an era where teaming up to survive is becoming more and more necessary to challenge the gargantuan Chinese state it is important to realized that Sweden is a small country which has to form ties with for them the right partners. The time has come again for a decision. Last time around Sweden made a U-turn after the war. Will they make a U-turn post battle this time when the smoke clears?
The following is a tale created by excerpts from Samuel P Huntington’s Political Order in Changing Societies from 1968 with my comments in brackets:
The most important political distinction among countries concerns not their form of government but their degree of government. The differences between democracy and dictatorship are less than the differences between those countries whose politics embodies consensus, community, legitimacy, organization, effectiveness, stability, and those countries whose politics is different in these qualities.
The US, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union have different forms of government, but in all systems the government governs. [Fukuyama did not like this one]
I do know, Walter Lippman has observed, that there is no greater necessity for men who live in communities than that they be governed, self-governed if possible, well governed if they are fortunate, but in any event, governed.
In politics, as in economics, the gap between developed political systems and underdeveloped political systems, between civic polities and corrupt polities, has broadened.
During the 1950s and 1960s the numerical incidence of political violence and disorder increased dramatically in most countries of the world. This was due to rapid social change and the rapid mobilization of new groups into politics coupled with the slow development of political institutions.
The equality of political participation is growing much more rapidly that the art of associating together. Social and economic change—urbanization, increases in literacy and education, industrialization, mass media expansion—extend political consciousness, multiply political demands, broaden political participation. The primary problem of politics is the lag in the development of political institutions behind social and economic change.
[Huntington’s book came out 1968 as governments started to apply the technology. The democratic wave he then observed was probably due to this application where political institutions where suppressed rather than extended in scope. We might be in a phase where this suppression is giving in and the social and economic development have ran ahead of the suppressed new-speak political development. It went well in the Age of Transformation and Optimism but now in the Age of Anxiety we will be governed by people that never knew how “normal” life was—the driven people. Has the psychology of man changed with the technology use?]
In American thinking, the causal chain was: economic assistance promotes economic development, economic development promotes political stability. However, economic development and political stability are two independent goals and progress toward one has no necessary connection with progress toward the other.
A second reason for American indifference to political development was the absence in the American historical experience of the need to found a political order. This gap in historical experience made them particularly blind to the problems of creating effective authority in modernizing countries.
Madison warned in The Federalist No 51: the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. The primary problem is not liberty but the creation of a legitimate public order. Authority has to exist before it can be limited, and it is authority that is in scarce supply in those modernizing countries where government is at the mercy of alienated intellectuals, rambunctious colonels, and rioting students.
[The development of social and political order decreased severely with the introduction of technology governance. Development was frozen in time. The worst example was perhaps Libya. In developed countries where the political order was established we found a different development post-1968. However, was the fall of the Soviet Union due to a technology –induced crash? Is the polarization seen in the US right now due to larger hostility between systems of people due to the technology? In my experience people in systems have reverted to clannish behavior. It is on/off behavior.]
It seems like 17 or 23 countries will follow Germany into a second floor in the EU as expected. Britain vetoed the regular EU deal. Indeed, this is an interesting situation for an Anglo-American. On the one hand saving the Eurozone is good for the economy in the short run. On the other, this makes Germany powerful and can harm the economy by V1s and V2s towards the City of London later.
I must say I have a problem with this development of the democracy concept that has taken place the last 40 years or so. I don’t know if it is an improvement or something that has the potential of authoritarianize the whole situation. My experience with the new democracy, or “new speak”, is rather awful. Dehumanization, violence, threats, property right violations, loss of integrity! It smells communism and totalitarianism. With the risk of making a fool out of myself, I’m inclined to ask the question if the cultures of Germany, Japan, Russia and China will revert to fascism of a socialist kind? I’m posing the question to myself, which culture will prove most resistant to “new speak” in the body?
Beginning in the Middle East we found out that people want change. It is understandable that the quest for a new world began where the pressure was hardest. It seems to have moved to Russia now following this gradient, discounting the Occupy movement which is a little different in character. That we are talking about a global problem is clear from the words of a Tunisian poet Abou el-Kacem al Chebbi “If, one day, a people decides to live, fate will answer their call.” Sounds quite Western to me actually. There is no life under “new speak”. The American Independence Declaration is under severe pressure at the moment.
Tried to use the occasion for the meeting to gain in understanding on the current situation in Europe. The top government officials in Sweden are taking a cautious stance on the Eurozone political maturation issue. Swedish voter interest in the Euro has plummeted so the Swedes are running away from the problem whereas the Poles are trying to help by joining as soon as possible with higher growth than the Eurozone average. Sweden will help via the IMF though.
Swedish officials don’t think the crisis is a political crisis as I do. Part of this reason seems to be that Europe is solvent and in better economic shape than the US. This is, I think, a very good argument for the crisis being rather political. What Merkozy wants by introducing the Maastricht criteria again in a new form is hard to understand though. The whole charade seems to work, sort of, but it might be borderline knife-wrestling. Someone said that this is not a debt crisis it is rather a current account crisis, ie having used current account rather than budget deficit maximum of 3% and the public debt maximum of 60% would have predicted the crisis. Using 3/60 would not have predicted the crisis.
At the same time as it might be absolutely essential for making progress the fiscal union/integration issue is causing ire in other countries that are beginning to feel sidelined. Britain does not want the Eurozone to go down for the sake of its economy but would probably don’t mind politically. However, since the “peripheral” countries are withdrawing from the issue the only way forward is indeed a fortified Eurozone. It is unlikely that Merkozy will manage to entice all 27 countries and instead move forward with the 17.
The question is if an “economic government”, a second floor on the EU edifice is necessary. How much of a charge on democracy would be possible to use to save the Eurozone? Neither France nor Germany would want an official loss of sovereignty though. Is the current affair an attempt to secure the cooperation of financial workers in another fashion? Is the elite placing tentacles that the populace is not controlling? The reason I’m asking is the serious writers call the meeting “making a fudge”. If people meet to do the same as earlier, that did not work earlier, my guess is that they need a cover for something else. I understand it is very uneuropean to question the good intent of the meeting but who are we trying to fool here? In any case, it is fascinating that the issue is so polarized among those that think the Euro will fall and those that think we have business as usual. This is not economics. This is politics.
With a basic education as a physician I turned to Tumor-Immunology Biochemistry research. I worked nearly 10 years at The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. However, when I first came to Philadelphia in January 1984 I started a subscription on Foreign Affairs and later The Economist...