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TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

Articles after 2006
The era of political deadlock and the "get over it" syndrome
Saudi Arabia tells Europeans what to publish
2005 articles

  • (April 2006) The era of political deadlock and the "get over it" syndrome. The USA had two close elections that created a president with no real majority in the country. This was followed by Germany, where Angela Merkel defeated chancellor Schroeder by a few votes and was then forced to accept a coalition government. Then came Italy, where (out of some 40 million votes) Romano Prodi defeated Silvio Berlusconi by less than 30,000 votes (less than 0.1%). And Hungary's leftists beat the right-center parties only after a second round of voting.
    The effect of close elections is, of course, to divide the nation. As USA republicans famously said, "get over it": that is precisely what does "not" happen. People do not get over it. For as long as Bush reigns, he will be considered an illegitimate president by too many of his fellow citizens. More importantly, his policies will be considered illegitimate, given that he never had a clear mandate from the people. No surprise that, well into his sixth year in power, Bush has the lowest approval rate of any modern president. It is just statistics. Given that he had a slim majority of fans to start with, every controversial issue tends to erode that base. It is actually impressive the way that Bush pushed so many controversial issues through a divided country. It was suicidal (and perhaps a bit undemocratic), but it is likely to be an exception that other countries will envy, because most governments elected in similar circumstances will simply be paralyzed.
    It is also impressive the way Merkel has been able to take control of Germany despite having enemy ministers in her cabinet. German politicians, though, have a tradition of putting national interest above personal interest, a feature that most politicians around the world (namely, Italian ones) do not share.
    The choice becomes a dreadful one: either the government does not act for fear of alienating so many people, or it does alienate them and in the process also alienates many of those who voted the government in the first place. The temptation to do nothing is just too strong.
    The question is why are electors so divided. It is difficult even for a mathematician to produce such perfect divisions in the electorate. How do voters manage to split exactly 50-50%? The easiest explanation is that each voter is split 50-50%, and therefore statistically, if voters' turn-out is high, the mass of voters ends up being split that way (each voter has a 50% of voting for one or the other party).
    The reason for the split personality of modern voters can be found in the fall of communism. When the bipolar world collapsed, so did the political consciousness of the democratic world. Once the ideological antagonism disappeared, the two "poles" (to use the Italian name for the political coalitions) moved towards each other. The left became a lot less socialist, and the right became a lot less dogmatic. It was mostly the left that accepted the capitalist world, but it was also the right that trimmed its most fundamentalist elements. The result was that the two poles moved closer. The good news is that both look a lot more reasonable than they used to. There is hardly a voter who is scared of the right or of the left the way voters used to be. Nobody expects a conservative party to install a fascist dictatorship and nobody expects a socialist party to install a communist dictatorship. Gone are those days. The "bad" news is that the two parties look so similar. The other bad news is that both parties need to win the elections, therefore they both make promises that are appealing to the voters. Inevitably the voters end up being promised an ice cream by one pole and a pie by the other pole. If you want both the ice cream and the pie, who do you vote? Thus the split personality. There is no ideological reason to pick one over the other, since their ideologies have become so similar, and their programs are both equally appealing (or unappealing).
    Basically, the democratic world is moving towards an era in which politicians become less and less "different". It will take an ideological revolution to create a reason for voters to clearly choose a pole.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (January 2006) Saudi Arabia tells Europeans what to publish. While the world was distracted by the Iraqi and Palestinian elections, a potentially much more influential event was taking shape in Denmark: rich and powerful Saudi Arabia (soon followed by Libya) was pressuring the small European country to condemn, and presumably ban, literature deemed offensive to Islam. The cause of so much uproar and of Saudi intereference in the affairs of a distant country was ridiculous at best: a Danish newspaper had run a cartoon that makes fun of Mohammed, whom Muslims (unfortunately many of them) still consider a prophet sent by their god Allah (yes, in 2005 there are still people who believe in this superstitions).
    As usual with Islam, this dispute immediately became extremely violent, with Muslims threatening to kill both the author of the cartoon and the owner of the newspaper (that's the real face of Islam, in case anyone needs more evidence). And, as usual with Islam, there were immediately street protests in many Islamic countries: masses of brute men shouting "jihad" against the Danish (all Danish, of course, as usual with Islam).
    It is pointless for an educated, civilized Danish to point out that the Danish government cannot tell a newspaper what to print or not to print: Muslims, who live in dictatorships where the dictator decides these issues, do not understand that, and they expect the entire world to live under similar regimes. If the Danish government cannot control what its people print, then, say the Muslims of the world, change the Danish regime to a good old Arab-style dictatorship.
    And it is pointless for an educated, civilized Danish to point out that Islam is a superstition (unfortunately believed by millions of people, especially in an Arab world that still lives in the stone age). Thus, even if the government could intervene, nobody really expects the government of a civilized country to waste its time with old superstitions.
    The entire Arab world is joining in boycotting Danish products. Denmark can do little to retaliate: it can only insist that the government has no place in telling newspapers what to print or not to print, and that a caricature of a superstition is not a crime at all. But it is obvious who has the power: the Arabs have the oil, and have the money. Europe has neither. This little episode is actually a milestone in the history of Europe: it signals the beginning of an age in which the Arab countries will exert an influence on European countries, no longer viceversa.
    Incidentally, the Muslim logic is that something that offends millions of Muslims should be forbidden: what if something offends millions of non-Muslims? Should that also be forbidden? For example, what about Islam, that offends hundreds of millions of women? Should Islam be forbidden because it offends millions of people, or is this the usual double standard (only things that offend Muslims count as things that offend people)?
    The rest of Europe and the rest of the world now have to take a stand: Europeans can ignore the dispute and let Islam crucify Denmark, or they can side with Denmark against stone-age superstitions and be subjected to the same punishment by the Arab countries. Ditto for the USA, that has so far pretended not to hear and not to see.
    The day has come that the most barbaric people of the Islamic world decide what Europeans can publish and can read: the superstition of illiterate and violent masses is becoming the new rule by which to judge what to publish and to read.
    And don't forget that for these Muslim masses it is also offensive that someone would refuse to convert to Islam. It is just a matter of time. Good luck, Europe. Good luck, world.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
    Back to the world news | Top of this page
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
    Back to the world news | Top of this page

  • 2005 articles
Editorial correspondence | Back to the top | Back to History | Back to the world news