Greeks Revolt in Athens, Londoners Protest: Who’s Next?
The birthplace of democracy witnesses the crumbling of a democratic state while similar goings-on in London gets all the press. The sentiment is spreading across the globe.
How fitting is it that the place where Western Civilization began—where democracy first took root—is experiencing the utter disintegration of representative democracy. Call it The Great Unraveling.
But whereas Athens was founded as a direct democracy, bearing little resemblance to our own (only adult males with military experience could vote), the Athens of today is a representative democracy. And it becomes more and more apparent with each passing day that the endpoint of representative democracy is what has been playing out in Greece. It is but the microcosm of a systemic entropy that results from the combination of representative democracy and free-market capitalism.
All governments tend toward and ultimately succumb to entropy, but when representative democracy enters into the phase of political and economic entropy, the effect is breathtaking because conventional wisdom (or, rather, the collective delusion) holds that such political systems can bypass this inevitable heat death. Francis Fukuyama calls such political arrangements “the end of history,” suggesting that humanity has evolved to its most perfect political and economic state. True, it is the most convenient state for those who benefit most from the arrangement, but ask the lower classes and they’ll tell a different story.
An hallucination has begun to tear apart at the very seams of time and space. Reality feels as though it is collapsing, but that’s only the veil of surreality falling. And that wind rushing forth as the fabric tumbles through the air is but the sound of people awakening.
Rome fell under the weight of its empire’s exponential growth. As it grew larger, its Senators, Tribunes and other elected officials grew more corrupt; the population, which had long ago ceded civic responsibility to these elected leaders, was paralyzed by what amounted to a military dictatorship; the imperial infrastructures (especially the military budget) needed to be sustained by massive expenditures, and to subsidize it all the Roman treasury raised taxes and minted fake silver coins, flooding the economy with money that caused hyperinflation.
Sound familiar? We are talking about Rome here but we might as well be talking about every form of government on the planet from monarchies to representative democracies.
Edward Gibbon, author of “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” is instructive in political and economic entropy. And though he was speaking only of Rome, the following concept could be applied to many of history’s political declines and should be the undeniable truth in consideration of the modern state.
“Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight.”
It is the hallucinatory power of representative democracy and free market economics (though it could be extended to mixed economies like Russia or China) that has led to the repeated militant activism of Greece in the 2008 and 2010 riots, the Argentine rebellion following that country’s loan default and hyperinflation in 2001, and the recent activism in the UK and France as everyone begins to understand the true nature of national entropy.
When these popular sentiments are manifest in countries like Greece or Argentina, they revolt, they protest. In America, we complain about taxes and call the Tea Party a genuine revolutionary movement. The Greeks call into question the very idea of representative democracy and its precious markets, and our most widely reported protesters simply demand lower taxes, as if it might actually stave off the entropy.
You display the sort of impassioned conviction that something fundamental must be changed and you are labelled a radical and marginalized in the press. The collective hallucination is dissolving in its heat death.
And it is at such times that those with the greatest stake in the dream of its eternal continuity fight back by deploying riot police or persecuting free speech and free information advocates.
But, as Thomas Paine once said:
“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.”
And if you want to see democratic and free market entropy in action, watch this video of the Greek protests.
[Image via MSNBC]