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Policy news & blueprints for the transition to a new Sustainable and Social Economy
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With Progressive Syriza's Victory, Is a European Spring Coming?

With Progressive Syriza's Victory, Is a European Spring Coming? | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Under the guise of trying to change EU institutions from within, these parties might be coopted and exploited by EU oligarchs and elites. Alternatively, Syriza and Podemos might develop and strengthen ways of doing democratic politics that work in favor of genuine popular control. We hope they will take this second path and, by doing so, genuinely contribute to the coming of a European Democratic Spring.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Excellent article in Truthout about the dangers of the new European Spring parties being recuperated by the European elites. Will they be able to escape "Hollandeization" and Robert Michels 'iron law of oligarchy'? Only if the grassroots movements behind them stay vigilant and strong.

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Will Europe survive 2015, the year of all elections?

Will Europe survive 2015, the year of all elections? | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
In 2015, European voters could decide if the European Union will survive. Elections in Britain, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Finland, Portugal and Estonia will answer two big questions. First, has disenchantment with the EU reached a tipping point? Second, is the 20th-century model of big political parties based on a collective mass and centrally run party now over?
Willy De Backer's insight:

Only one answer to both excellent questions posed in this Guardian article: an affirmative 'YES'. Time to reinvent the EU and re-boot democracy.

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If I ruled the world: Martin Rees | Prospect Magazine

If I ruled the world: Martin Rees | Prospect Magazine | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"We need an enlightened despot to save our vulnerable planet."

Willy De Backer's insight:
I tend to agree that our current 'democratic' system is unable to deal with climate chaos but an 'enlightened' despot always ends up being just a despot.
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State Capture and the Democratic Movement

State Capture and the Democratic Movement | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"What is urgently needed are initiatives to expose the capture of states by the financial sector, but also—much more difficult—analysis of how societies in crisis allow stereotypes of the ‘other’ to be popularised, opening the way to violence and ultimately, war."

Willy De Backer's insight:

Excellent article on how the capture of the state by the financial elites is leading to nationalist-populist policies to undermine the social welfare state and organised labour.

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We’re All Climate-Change Idiots

We’re All Climate-Change Idiots | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
The mental habits that help us navigate the practical demands of day-to-day life make it difficult to engage with the more remote dangers posed by climate change.

 

Interesting article on the psychology of climate change. If we all suffer from these mental blocks, do we really believe the climate crisis can be solved withing a democratic system?

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The commons: beyond the market vs. state dilemma

"Rather than the vision of competition for scarce resources, the way of the commons is to look for support in what is needed, and not to consumption; to use more than to exchange, in the conviction that there are sufficient resources for all. In its concern for ‘us’ rather than an emphasis on resources; in its ability to share from the standpoint of autonomy as opposed to the idea of an authority that imposes rules when faced with inevitable conflict - this is an anthropocentric vision of cooperation and not a competitive and rational-economic vision. It exercises more concern over access and use than over property. More attention is paid to individual and collective wellbeing in sharing than to competing."

 

Brilliant article by Spanish professor Joan Subirats in Open Democracy on the "commons",  democracy and the internet. Must-read.

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Why China Can’t Adjust

Why China Can’t Adjust | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"So in a sense, the Chinese bubble – as much an intellectual and political bubble as an economic one – has burst. As China’s economic deceleration exposes its structural vulnerabilities and flawed policies, the much-hyped notion of “Chinese exceptionalism” – that China can continue to grow without the rule of law and the other essential institutions that a modern market economy presupposes – is proving to be nothing but a delusion."

 

Interesting article by Minxin Pei in Project Syndicate on the future of the Chinese economy.

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Rio+20: Jeffrey Sachs on how business destroyed democracy and virtuous life

Rio+20: Jeffrey Sachs on how business destroyed democracy and virtuous life | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
The world famous economist on corporate control, the search for happiness and why a multi-disciplinary approach is the only way to find solutions to sustainability challenges...

 

Excellent article from the Guardian's Sustainable Business blog.

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Eli Levine's curator insight, March 11, 2014 2:56 PM

It will be taken back.

 

Society will either die or not stand for this stuff.  There is no room for a middle way between survival and death.

 

Think about it.

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Question the Euro Crisis

Question the Euro Crisis | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
After more than 18 months, a dozen and a half summits, multiple rounds of austerity, a trillion dollars of liquidity, and now elections in Greece and France that threaten to overturn the fragile policy consensus in Europe, the Euro-crisis rumbles on.

 

Good critical analysis of the Eurocrisis in Harvard Business Review Blog. Why Europe's elites are trying to save the Euro and will end up losing the European project and, in several countries, democracy.

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Pirate party makes a raid on German politics

Pirates are capturing Germany's political system.

 

Just like the Greens in the 1980s, the German Pirate Party is challenging the established parties and party structures. But just like the Greens they will become part of the system if they win more influence. As I already wrote in the early years (1984) of the Green party movement, Michels "Iron Law Of Oligarchy" still applies.

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Stronger Europe or democratic sovereignty? Yes please

Great analysis in Open Democracy about the false choice between EU federalism and intergovernmentalism and the need for genuine European politics.

 

"The incumbent task for citizens is thus clear: to confront the political question directly. The era of ‘output legitimacy’ is over. How boldly Europe embraces new forms of input legitimacy - in which we will have to supply the ideas and the future of Europe ourselves, democratically as citizens - will determine whether and how we overcome the current sovereign debt crisis, as well as our deeper democratic malaise."

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Durban and Brussels: The Artists in the Circus Dome: clueless

Durban and Brussels: The Artists in the Circus Dome: clueless | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Greenhouse gas emissions would be cut from 2020 if China decides to follow EU roadmap...

 

The talking travelling circus of climate artists will probably decide to keep travelling and talking. Makes no difference whatsoever to the climate crisis. How much this resembles what is happening in Brussels these days. Leaders have lost the plot and are left clueless.

 

Note: "Die Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: Ratlos" is a wonderful German movie from 1968 by Alexander Kluge.

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Greece: Syriza close to office, elites close to panic

Greece: Syriza close to office, elites close to panic | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Greece could be about to elect the most radical government of the left in Europe since the 1930s - the outcome could shape European society for decades to come
Willy De Backer's insight:

Great article on the importance for the Left of a Syriza victory in Greece and its impact on other EU countries.

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Syriza can transform the EU from within – if Europe will let it

Syriza can transform the EU from within – if Europe will let it | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Syriza has repeatedly declared its intention to keep the country within the economic and monetary union, and to avoid unilateral actions. There is little doubt that its leaders are committed Europeanists who truly believe that they could help transform the EU from within.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Excellent article in the Guardian on the political crisis in Greece and its implications for the EU. Must-read article to counter all the scaremongering which EU elites will launch to sabotage Greek democratic vote.

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Climate change is an issue of national security, warns Ed Miliband

Climate change is an issue of national security, warns Ed Miliband | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Labour leader says UK is 'sleepwalking to a crisis over climate' as storms bring more major disruption and flooding
Willy De Backer's insight:

Why was climate change NOT an issue of national security before, Ed? Waking up for electoral gains now? And what when you are in power? Climate policies on the backburner again?

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New book: Creating Sustainable Societies by John Boik

New book: Creating Sustainable Societies by John Boik | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"Creating Sustainable Societies: The Rebirth of Democracy and Local Economies first pinpoints the central problems within our financial, economic, and governance systems that have lead to high unemployment, massive debt, environmental degradation, mistrust of Congress and big business, and hyper-inequities of wealth and political power. The book then proposes a practical, bold blueprint for addressing these concerns and creating meaningful change."

 

Change from the bottom up, new local currency systems and direct democracy are the keywords in this new blueprint for a sustainable transition.

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"The Bad Society"

"The Bad Society" | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"The attitude of indifference to income distribution is in fact a recipe for economic growth without end, with the rich, very rich, and super-rich drawing ever further ahead of the rest. This must be wrong for moral and even practical reasons. In moral terms, it puts the prospect of the good life perpetually beyond reach for most people. And, in practical terms, it is bound to destroy the social cohesion on which democracy – or, indeed, any type of peaceful, contented society – ultimately rests."

 

Good article in Project Syndicate by Robert Skidelsky on inequality and its effects on prosperity, the "good life" and democracy.

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MIT Economist: Big Banks Have 'Hijacked' The Political Process

MIT Economist: Big Banks Have 'Hijacked' The Political Process | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
A prominent economist says big banks have "hijacked" the political process and now have "a leading driver's seat" in determining financial regulation.

 

Daron Acemoglu (author of "Why nations fail") explains in this short article in the Huffington Post how the financial elites have eroded democracy.

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A global democracy manifesto

"Politics lags behind the facts. We live in an era of deep technological and economic change that has not been matched by a similar development of public institutions responsible for its regulation. The economy has been globalised but political institutions and democracy have not kept pace. In spite of their many peculiarities, differences and limitations, the protests that are growing all over the world show an increasing discontent with the decision-making system, the existing forms of political representation and their lack of capacity for defending common goods. They express a demand for more and better democracy."

 

This week saw the publication of two interesting manifestos. One by Krugman and Layard on the economic crisis and this one in Open Democracy by David Hayes on the need for global democracy. Both manifestos are correct diagnoses of two aspects of the "great disruption" but both also are very disappointing in terms of alternatives.

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"Purpose beyond Power"

"Purpose beyond Power" | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Liberal democracies in the West today are struggling to avoid – and in doing so are exacerbating – a crisis of identity, which puts the existing social contract at risk and threatens their implosion.

 

Excellent analysis by Wolfgang Reinicke at Project Syndicate about the erosion of our liberal democracy as a result of shifted power structures due to globalisation.

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The deep structure of the European crisis

"Instead of offering an alternative model of regional integration to the unregulated system of the global economy and its discredited ideology of market fundamentalism, Europe remained exposed to and entrapped by financial market players and neo-liberal economic policies. As a result, it de facto turned against its own aspiration to implement the European Social Model and equal up regional disparities. The East-West divide as well as the North-South divide is stronger or at least more obvious today than before 2004/2005. The new phase of peripheralisation conducted by German-led ordoliberalism ↑ has provoked national resistance and led to a further and sharp decline of public trust in both national and European institutions."

 

Interesting article in OpenDemocracy about the deeper reasons behind Europe's crisis. Excellent on analysis of what has gone wrong but less convincing on remedies.

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Het grootste slachtoffer van de duurzaamheidscrisis zou wel eens de democratie kunnen zijn

Het grootste slachtoffer van de duurzaamheidscrisis zou wel eens de democratie kunnen zijn | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
De belangrijkste reden waarom de wereldgemeenschap niet aan duurzame ontwikkeling toekomt, is omdat de politici het lef niet hebben om te zeggen dat het totaal anders moet.
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The Challenge at Davos: A Crisis of Global Politics, Not Just the Economy

The Challenge at Davos: A Crisis of Global Politics, Not Just the Economy | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

Excellent analysis by Time of the demise of democratic politics and the rising success of state capitalism. But is "Davos Man" really ready for these uncomfortable questions and the necessary "Great Transformation"? 

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Can Europe pull back from the brink?

Can Europe pull back from the brink? | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

The Guardian has this brilliant and insightful exchange of ideas between two UK top journalists (Paul Mason and Gillian Tett) on the eurocrisis. What both recognise is that this crisis is only the tip of the iceberg of a more fundamental crisis of our political institutions and leadership.

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