Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Western Civilization Faces the Big Test: Citizens! Heal Your Societies or Go Over the Cliff


The current political crisis in Europe, and in America as well, is not at all hard to understand. Think of it like this: society is not infinitely malleable. If you pull a rubber band far enough it is either going to snap back or it will break.

Western democracies have worked very well for 60 years now. They have been remarkably prosperous; remarkably peaceful. They defeated the Communist challenge. In a sense they—and I include the United States here—are victim of this very success.

Out of rational self-interest, the realities of electoral politics, and a strong sense—misguided or otherwise—the welfare state and the payment of entitlements have been expanding.

You can—as my grandmother used to say—throw around money like a drunken sailor until you run out of money.

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The self-imposed burdens have reached, and exceeded, the limit of what these societies could finance.  This problem has been highlighted, of course, by an economic recession but it is not the product of that business contraction.

Things have been made worse by the fact that most governments in power have tried to apply the very old policies that were making the societies ill in the first place. The situation is akin to the medical practice of centuries ago in which an already sickly patient was bled further by the application of leeches. Death often followed.

Those governments buried in the equivalent of “old-think” in the USSR have just three alternatives:

Click here to read the full article.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center  and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.

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