Frustration is a great catalyst, but when the context is politics, it’s a dangerously insufficient guide.
You can see that in the results to date of the Western world’s romance with the politics of “had enough?”
There is a lot to be fed up with about in the developments in everyday life of the last 40 years: particularly the radical increase in inequality: the widening separation in economic incomes and judicial outcomes, the shrinking influence on political decisions, and declining satisfaction with social status experienced by the many, while a tiny elite flourishes.
But rejection of the past, is not a direction for the future. And blaming those poorer and weaker for the selfish, self-interested governance of the rich and powerful isn’t just ineffective; it’s perverse.
So, in the UK, an angry, if narrow majority of voters passes BREXIT, the bolt away from the European Community and the valuable economic market that comes with it to keep “the sceptered isle” separate and pure, as if the presence in the UK of close to a million hard-working Poles with saleable skills and millionaire Russians and Asians with capital to invest were not good things, but the reason so many Brits’ lives suck.
In the US, justifiable discontent with the established leaders of both political parties has brought on the Age of Trump, led by a President who traffics in fear of vastly over-rated terrorist threats which be blames on the poorest of the poor, refugees fleeing savage war and ambitious immigrants, Mexican and Muslim, pursuing opportunity and freedom as well as safety and stability.
That’s the biggest irony: the conditions that frustrate us, attract them, and are the envy of ordinary people across most of the world.
The people of Italy and Cyprus, two places, our guest today, foreign correspondent Christopher Livesay of PBS’ NewsHour has reported from in recent weeks and months can trace their politicians’ failures back more than 60 years, starting just after World War 2. In the past 70 years, Italy has had about a thousand governments, and few have been much good. Today, the economy is the second worst in Europe, after bankrupt Greece, and the most popular political party in the country will be lucky to get a third of the votes in the next election. The leading “Had enough?” opposition party is led, not by a TV reality show star, but a TV comic.
Cyprus, a beautiful island in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, is shared by 2 ethnic and linguistic groups – majority Greeks and minority Turks, and it is safe to say that the whole world has “had enough” of their inability to live together in peace. The 2 communities on Cyprus may share the space, but they can’t seem to agree on how to share power. The United Nations is encouraging another formal try at reconciliation, but few are very optimistic, in part because the politics of hate and rejection are profitable for a sufficiently powerful few on both sides of the line.
Christopher Livesay is an award-winning foreign correspondent and producer based in Rome. He is a Spcial Correspondent for PBS NewsHour and has reported for the prestigious documentary series PBS FRONTLINE, NPR and for VICE News. For three years Livesay was a staff reporter and editor at ANSA, the leading Italian news agency.