It is generally assumed that revolutions are for poor, bedraggled countries where operating a flush toilet is a great challenge. The hilariously misnamed “Arab Spring” is a good recent example. One Arab craphole after another fell into chaos as the price of food shot up and the local potentates were unable to keep a lid on things. Big important countries don’t have revolutions anymore. They have democracy!
That’s not a foolish assumption. The last real revolt in Europe was the Bolshevik Revolution and a lot of people would argue that Russia is not a part of Europe. The Spanish Civil War is not counted as a revolution, but that’s debatable. Either way, it’s been a long time since westerners have felt the need to “spit on their hands, hoist the black flag and start slitting throats.”
The argument is that modern liberal democratic societies have built in checks against tyranny and systems for making structural reforms when necessary. If the main political parties are unresponsive, then new parties rise up to displace them and implement the needed reforms. Elections give the people the tools to reign in their rulers so there’s no need for revolution.
Just because this process has never happened does not mean it can’t happen. The argument here is that the main parties respond to changing attitudes and reform on their own so there’s no need for new parties. The Tories in Britain, for example, moved right when UKIP got going. In America, the Democrats lurched to the left when the Green Party sprouted up in the 90’s. The Republican Party is about to move right in response to the Trump-a-paloosa.
That’s the theory. The Greeks would point out that they kept voting for something different, but nothing changed. In fact, the more they voted, the more draconian the punishments from Europe. They would have been better off having a good old fashioned military coup. At least that would have made for good television. Instead, Greece is now Germany’s Puerto Rico.
The lesson the German politicians learned, or at least appear to have learned, is that democracy is nothing but a bluff. The Greeks could have started shooting, but instead they knuckled under to German demands, even when it was a matter of pride. They would rather stop being Greek by eliminating that which makes them Greek, than take on the burden of leaving Europe and reclaiming their sovereignty.
Angela Merkel appears to be taking the same stand with the German people. Here we have genuine social unrest due to the flood of migrants she invited into the country and her response is to go after Germans who speak out about it. The mayor of Cologne, sounding like Bill Clinton, told her female citizens to just lie back and try to enjoy the rape-a-thon going on in the city square.
Just in case you are inclined to think that’s a mischaracterization, Merkel has just made a big public show of not accepting limits on allowing more Muslim immigrants into the country. The only conclusion to draw from this is she thinks there’s no amount of degradation and humiliation that will cause the German public to rise up and put an end to this madness. Given the Greek experience, she’s probably right.
It’s tempting to think there’s some difference between Germans and Greeks in the view of the people in charge, but that is a mistake. As far as Merkel is concerned, the people of Cologne are no different from the people of Athens. They are not even people. They are economic units to be shifted around and eliminated in order to maintain the ruling class. If the economic units in Athens can be bullied, why think the units of Cologne will not be bullied too?
What we are witnessing in the West is the great test of liberal democracy. On the one side, all over the West we see recalcitrant mainstream parties digging in their heels on polices that benefit the global elite at the expense of the local populations. On the other side you have local populations trying to force change on their government through the liberal democratic processes. The theory says the politicians, as a matter of survival, will yield.
So far, that has not been the way to bet. Instead, the main parties find new ways to subvert the will of the voters. In Greece the Germans laid siege to the country until they broke the will of the people. Closer to home, the German government is unleashing a wave of Muslim terrorism on their people, presumably as a form of intimidation. In France, the main parties have teamed up to block the third party from winning.
You don’t have to be a seer to see what’s coming. If through the accepted democratic process, the will of the people is thwarted, then the people will lose respect for those processes. If the people in charge already look upon these processes with contempt, there’s no one left to support the status quo and the whole things falls to pieces. Perhaps the post-democratic world imagined by the global elite is what emerges, but 100 years ago all the smart people had similar thoughts.