Thursday, January 24, 2013

Taking the reins

João Ribeiro, International Secretary of the Socialist Party (P.S.), Portugal.

As a matter of fact, it is true there is a growing divide between north and south when we consider job creation, economic resilience and revenues distribution. It is also an historic fact that it was always like that. The difference is that the notable dividing line is geographically higher... 
When countries face structural crisis, dangerous divisions grow between them and also within them, making fertile all fear-motivated political proposals, like nationalisms and xenophobia, including social xenophobia. In principle, any "exclusion agenda" is to be fought by progressive forces. As a Portuguese thinker once said, where injustice lays is where socialism must be and no exclusion is progressive. That said, we face a significantly growing generation confrontation. The sense that one generation was successful on building on their own and to themselves a welfare state that is compromising present generations’ access to prosperity needs to be argued, without forgetting actual problems that need to be bluntly faced. I would say that, more than a generation moral confrontation, what we have is a generation of elites’ moral confrontation. The vast majority of the peoples were not aware or informed on the consequences of their political choices and of the democratic dynamics favored by certain agendas. But the economic and political elites should have been aware. 
Also something to be considered is that all generations faced their own challenges. In my country, previous generations faced almost 50 years of fascist dictatorship (that started with a most acclaimed finance minister called to deal with a financial crisis in the 20's, becoming afterwards head of the government - Salazar), massive emigration in the 50's and the 60's to rebuild Europe, a long lasting barely known colonial war, the democratic revolution in the 70's and its challenging and ideological transition, the return of one million people from the colonies, the EU accession in the 80's, the Euro accession in the 90's and now the financial and eurozone crisis. 
Dividing between north and south or between previous and current generations only serves the conservative forces and the divisive ideologies. It fuels a moral approach. All of that helps to hide the reality, to mask the structural forces of the crisis (national and european) and the true responsibilities of the crisis (national and European). 
If there is one thing that can make our generation grand, is to be the voice of unity when facing hardship. To be the voice of solidarity when facing fear. 
Finally, progressive forces need to make their achievements the real base of a new social and economic reality that favors social inclusion and sustainable development. Without kicking out or excluding nobody, but really taking the reins of our destiny. And our main achievement was the current generation! More emancipated, highly trained and qualified, much more European and cosmopolitan - all of this as a direct result of public health care, 
public education and social security. We need the courage to change things, to change the structures (both political and economic), to fight conservative dominations (even those under the appearance of being progressive...) not going back to old failed experiences (as calling, mythical and sexy as they might be), but take a risk on all new solutions. Making space for socially aware and responsible individual autonomy to overcome individualism and conservative collectivism. That is the main challenge, in my opinion, for all progressive forces.

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