Thursday, 12 April 2012

Public Order crumbles a bit more

Spain is anticipating a further breakdown in public order as the government introduce draconian new laws against freedom of communication and freedom of association; in Greece they're bombing government offices already, and here in the UK one has to compose each blog and twitter post as though hearing it read in a secret government court. Across Europe public order crumbles as people are out of love with their political class; for every criminal who throws a rock are ten civil disobedients, for every civil disobedient ten angry voters. Not since the period just before 1848 has Europe faced such concerted pressure for political and democratic reform.

Czechs and Hungarians rose to throw off Austrian hegemony; in Sicily they rose against the Bourbons, in France they forced the abdication of Louis Philippe. In Denmark, Schleswig, Poland, Wallachia, Belgium, Ukraine and Ireland they rose up, in England the Chartists demanded, and in Switzerland, one of the few outright successes of that year of change, the old order was overthrown and a new constitution enabled. Most risings were suppressed, with more or less brutality, by troops. However, the sought-for freedoms - freedom of the press, and freedom of association - did come in most cases in the following years. 

In 2012 one can distil down the common demand as one for control. Across Europe, people feel they have lost control; lost it to globalisation, to centralised political elites, to an amorphous and dispersed bureaucratic net, to a remote and undemocratic EU, to global finance, to oligopolies of incestuous mega-corporations. When the traditional response of incumbent governments to public disorder is to increase their own control, not to let it go, the potential for real conflict between governments and peoples is building rapidly. 

Another lesson from 1848 is that no-one, certainly no historian, will ever die in a ditch for the reputation of the ancien regimes. The Hapsburg Empire was never beneficent, the paternalism of rotten boroughs never good. All those who now seek to block change, to repress and subjugate, to pry and snoop and wiretap and inform, to take the baton and hose to the youths, will be history's villains.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Stupendous comment, thank you sir.

Anonymous said...

Any bets that after 'The Arab Spring' will come 'The European Summer'??

G. Tingey said...

The Spanish voters, forgetting their past, elected a seriously RC right-wing guvmint - who promptly behaved according to form - as the article says "like Franco".
Bastards.

Our lot will try to be more subtle.
You might hate to admit it, but, err, thank the Lem-o-Crats, who won't have anything at all to do with this proposed internet snooping law.

outsider said...

Dear Raedwald: The draconian penalties announced in Spain seem remarkably similar to those handed down to last summer's violent rioters in English courts. Not sure Draco would be impressed.
Maybe we are in for a "European Spring"/ Mediterranean Summer" but the indignation in Barcelona amounted to attacking the Barcelona Stock Exchange, an institution I had not heard of before, and trashing a branch of Starbucks (McDonalds is so yesterday). Not quite like Benghazi, Dera'a or Homs is it?

Anonymous said...

"Maybe we are in for a "European Spring"/ Mediterranean Summer" but the indignation in Barcelona amounted to attacking the Barcelona Stock Exchange, an institution I had not heard of before, and trashing a branch of Starbucks (McDonalds is so yesterday). Not quite like Benghazi, Dera'a or Homs is it?"

It's 'a long road' to Syria but have you read recent Spanish history?
Never heard of Guernica, admittedly it will not be Nazi bombers next[?] time.