Monday, November 21, 2016

Neo-Liberalism & Post-Truth

It is now getting a bit confusion over the proper meaning of liberalism. In ordinary English, liberalism simply means being easy and without any hang-ups and that you allow others to do what they wish, while you carry on happily along with your own insignificant little life. Liberalism means absolute tolerance of yourself and of others, the fundamental tenet being probably that life is too short for each of us to hamper each other.

Now, if you were to mix the notion of liberalism with that amorphous idea of democracy, you would probably get the idea that you could do whatever you like to disrupt the current system of things because you feel that there is an injustice and a wrong somewhere and that you are the person to contribute to that correction, simply because you have the liberty and the instrument to do it.

So the liberal democrats in their yellow T-shirts congregated in the city centre to demonstrate their disgust with the current regime because the current regime has done something that is wrong morally and they wish the government of the day will simply just step down. The pro-regime red T-shirts exercising what they saw to be their equally justifiable right to counter-demonstrate in support of the government of the day.

We have also elsewhere losers in a presidential election stepping up into the streets and the limelight to shout into the faces of the winners that they did not agree with their values and what they had said during the very hot campaign and what the winners to step down so that the losers can take over because of their more liberal stance, all in the name of democracy.

What puzzles me is that what is the point of having a debate if we are all supposed to subscribe to the same views in the first place. I thought the diversity of ideas as a result of the challenging of the norm and the opportunity to speak the seemingly ridiculous has been the way forward of our current civilisation, a process which has carried us out of the dark ages and into the light of logic, deduction, experiments and all that comes under the term of creativity and innovation. Of course, we also learn from history that some of the greatest disruptors of obsolete conventions had to die for their realisations. So, the truth can be ugly and at times bloody.

However, maybe it is precisely because of the shortness of our time in this life and our ignorance of reality that we guard so vehemently our own little world with our own little truths or falsehoods whichever that give us our mental and material comfort that we are so ready to kill those who dare to destroy our sense of being.

In trying to protect our own vulnerable sense of our own little truths, we are therefore inclined to be swayed and we also work so hard to try to sway those of like-minds with emotive words that touch our hearts but which contain no substantive truth that emotional rant seems to be the instrument of the present and the future to create a world that only we and our like-minds are happy to inhabit. We are now in the world of post-truth, the new word in the Oxford Dictionary for now.

It is no more sufficient for anyone of us to speak our truth softly and gently. We are now required to shout and be heard above the crowds, the lonely crowds who live their atomic lives through the electronic handphones while ignoring those standing next to them. Post-Reality?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

EU Ideology

The European Union is an idea based on an ideology, not on some fundamental inalienable truth of nature that cannot be broken. As an ideology, it is a belief not a fact.

The EU argument is that you cannot have free movement of goods without free movement of people. Economic theory has nothing to prove this imperative. The idea of the free movement of goods among countries is that you do not have to have free movement of people in order to have full employment among trading nations. You can have investments in your own countries and then trade.

The free movement of people is another thing altogether. People had always been free to move around the world since time immemorial until the idea of nations cropped up which was as recent as the breakup of the British Empire in the last fifty years or so. What makes the current free movement of people so unmanageable is the age of information and mass travel so that instead of a trickling effect we get an avalanche which puts pressures on local councils to provide the necessary services.

(Malaysia has chosen to ignore the problems of immigration because they consider them to be foreign workers here for a temporary period only, when in fact they are all here for one whole generation with families and children.)

The mounting social pressures put an enormous strain on the government of the day especially when the economy is weak and unemployment is rising among the locals.

The free movement of people is a political ideal aimed at the creation of a unified broader federation of nations, as a political bloc so to speak. It has less force from an economic point of view. The central issue may simply be record-keeping of the movement of people. The solution may simply be administrative.

There is currently great vehemence against Brexit in the EU because there is real danger that the EU experiment may fail. Nations with successful cities are under tremendous social pressures. With the rise of unemployment, nations with good welfare systems may have to discriminate against newcomers so that the systems do not break down. There will be budgetary pressures and this is when the free movement of people becomes a real economic issue.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trump Triumphs!

It would be wrong to say that not many imagined Trump would win the presidential elections. The results say that many did indeed thought so and voted for him!

It is only those who did not like him who could not imagine how he could be president. It is such self-delusion about one's own truth.

Then, of course, there were those who did think very early in the campaign that he could win - because he was saying all the right things, in their ears, about what is really wrong with their nation.

Of course, Trump can be faulted for being politically incorrect - but then, political correctness does seem to have a certain fashion trend about what is being correct. After all, correctness is a subjective value - and most often in the public space and mostly unlikely in one's own intimate privacy.

Trump's victory is at the same level of the new reality as Brexit. Both completely shakes the mindset of the mass media where everything is presumed to be business as usual.

But we are living in an unusual time, in a time of great turmoil and great strife by masses of people for mere survival, wars that are destroying entire cities and towns, and ordinary people are being crushed to their deaths or drowned as they try to run for the higher ground.

We are living in the aftermath of, as well as the continued money printing of quantitative easing, when trillions are sloshing around the global capital cities looking for real estate or that glittering metal called gold. Banks are waiting for implosion as they sit on over-inflated collaterals. In the meantime, subsidies are removed, austerity drive made, governments snatching purchasing power from the ordinary people, good jobs hard to find, wages unchanged at low rates, badly paid foreign workers being exploited by owners of capital in menial jobs in construction and restaurants.

So, the people look for a leader to change the status quo which benefits only the elite and they are elite because they have managed to borrow huge sums from banks at low costs to buy real estates which have been inflating out of all proportions in relation to the value they can benefit human welfare.

Trump promises the people that he will look after them, give them decent jobs, make their lives more meaningful again, help them cope with their daily lives, feed their families, and solves their own mundane little problems at home in their own background instead of trying to be a hero to the big big world.

The US domination of global politics came out of WWI and WWII with the rise of the defence industry made possible by the seigniorage that can be enjoyed out of the US dollar becoming the reserve currency and the unplugging of the US dollar from gold in 1973. The US has become fat by the printing of money which has also in the last thirty years brought up the rise of China and India.

Brexit is a real cry for change by the UK and for loosening of the tie with continental Europe. The EU was a product of WWII and libertarian politics which imagined itself as another US. But the EU is a group of old nations which the old educated elites of former colonies are conditioned to love with nostalgia. But ancient civilisations are waking up after long periods of hibernation to become the ultra-new nations. It is this new reality that the UK and the US are waking up as well.

In part, Trump is a necessary evil. He may not be the best president of the US, but he is also a game-changer which means that you should not expect things to be the same as before.

While the media is screaming uncertainty, what they should be looking forward to is new ways of thinking and new ways of doing things. The world is throwing away old ideas and embracing earth-shaking new ways forward.