Tag Archives: Grian A. Cutanda

A Decisive Battle

by Grian A. Cutanda

The current confrontation between the Greek government and people on one hand and the European Central Bank and the German government on the other is much more than a serious economic struggle on the board of the European Union. After more than 30 years of neoliberal hegemony in our world, advocated by Western conservative parties and eventually assumed even by European social democratic parties, the battle of the Greek government against the markets for its debt restructuring has become a critical and far-reaching turning point.

Since the beginning of neoliberalism in 1980 until 2012, the wealth gap between rich and poor countries increased from 35:1 to an incredible 74:1

The failure of neoliberal globalization is an obvious fact for the vast majority of non-neoliberal analysts since the Great Recession broke out in 2007-2008; a recession in which we are still immersed. Since the beginning of neoliberalism in 1980 until 2012, the wealth gap between rich and poor countries increased from 35:1 to an incredible 74:1;(1) while the global ecological footprint —the indicator of the environmental impact caused by human demand on existing resources on our planet— increased from near 100% of the regenerative capacity of the Earth to 150% in 2007 —in less than 30 years!(2) Furthermore, neoliberal thesis not even stand up in their own grounds —Economics— when the rates of growth of world economies had fallen from 3.2% to 2.1% since the early eighties to 2012.(3) But what is most worrying in social terms is, without doubt, the deterioration of democratic systems and civil rights that neoliberalism is producing even in Western countries, as different experts point out.(4) In view of all this, we’ll have to agree with French economists Duménil and Lévy when they say that “neoliberalism is a predatory system.”(5)

However, it is very worrying that, in political debate, the depth of the crisis of neoliberalism is not recognized, perhaps because the neoliberal unique way of thinking still has broad support in the world media. Should be noted that about 85% of the media are in only 6 private hands.(6) and even a long, prestigious public media such as the BBC is spreading the neoliberal thesis worldwide. This is the conclusion reached by a study from the Cardiff School of Journalism,(7) in which it is stated that BBC debates are dominated by the political and economic elites, while alternative voices scarcely are heard in them. This in itself is already a serious damage, if not a clear danger, for democratic systems, inasmuch these media are capable of generating public opinion and changing trends in voting intentions, so undermining the democratic processes.

Should be noted that about 85% of the media are in only 6 private hands, and even a long, prestigious public media such as the BBC is spreading the neoliberal thesis worldwide

For all these reasons we should consider that the current conflict between Greece and the European neoliberal powers represented by the Troika is a crucial turning point, a decisive battle in which what is at stake is nothing less than the future of humanity and the planet.

If the Greek government, under the leadership of Tsipras and Varoufakis, fails to crack the neoliberal monolithic block —while respecting, remember, the sovereign will of their people at the polls—, the neoliberal hegemony will be strengthened not only in Europe, but worldwide; and trends of impoverishment of the poor, savage exploitation of nature, and retreat of democracy and civil rights could continue their advance till bringing us to the abyss of dystopia, if not the collapse of our civilization.(8)

If, on the contrary, Greece is able to break the fierce demands of the Troika, it is quite possible that Spain, also severely battered by this model of policies, will also join the trend started in Greece in their own elections (November 2015). Together, they could form a common block in southern Europe, conveying to European social democratic parties the message that, if they do not return to their sources and give up the economic neoliberalism, they will be in danger of disappearing from the political scene. The debacle of the Greek PASOK is a serious warning.

The future of global society and Earth’s ecosystems is now in the hands of a handful of Greek rulers and more than two million people who gave them their confidence at the polls

In conclusion, the future of global society and Earth’s ecosystems is now in the hands of a handful of Greek rulers and more than two million people who gave them their confidence at the polls (and who yesterday protested in Syntagma Square to demand the end of the Troika’s blackmail). Unfortunately, we have not been able to see the significance of the moment to support from the rest of Europe that small number of European citizens who are in this moment in the front line trying to breach the irrationality of neoliberal power.

(1) Hickel, J. (2011). How to Occupy the world. Pulse (15 Dec 2011). Blog entry. Retrieved from http://pulsemedia.org/2011/12/15/how-to-occupy-the-world/#more-34599

(2) Global Footprint Network (2010). Ecological Footprint Atlas 2010. Oakland, CA: Ewing, B; Moore, D.; Goldfinger, S.; Oursler, A.; Reed, A. & Wackernagel, M. Retrieved from http://www.footprintnetwork.org/images/uploads/Ecological_Footprint_Atlas_2010.pdf

(3) Hickel, J. (2012). A short history of neoliberalism (and how we can fix it). New Left Project. 9 April 2012. Retrieved from http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/a_short_history_of_neoliberalism_and_how_we_can_fix_it

(4) Giroux (2005), MacEwan (2005), Massey (2012), Rustin & Massey (2014), Wacquant (2001)

(5) Duménil, G. & Lévy, D. (2005). The neoliberal (counter-)revolution. In Saad-Filho, A. & Johnston, D. (eds.), Neoliberalism: A Critical Reader. London: Pluto Press, 9-19

(6) Mayor Zaragoza, F. (2011). Indignant Speech. Video. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/5u6wOmFhp7U

(7) Berry, M. (2013). Hard evidence: How biased is the BBC? The Conversation (23/08/2013). Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/hard-evidence-how-biased-is-the-bbc-17028

(8) Homer-Dixon, T. (2006). The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada


New Ways of Being

by Grian A. Cutanda

In December 1997 I wrote a fictional story that I would then publish, in 1998, under the title of Beyond the Rainbow. I told the story of a young man who, feeling a deep sorrow for the injustice, violence and the destruction of nature he sees in the world, was considering the idea of devoting his life to working for a better world. But, what could he do, a young man in the prime of his life, unknown to the world, to change things?

Looking for answers to his questions, the young man —whom I named Amadan, “idiot” in Gaelic, connecting with the traditions of the idiot savants, those sages whose wisdom comes from their simplicity— would begin an inner journey toward understanding by conversing with the Wind, Eagle, Oak, Lake, Fire, Moon… In one of those conversations, the Eagle says:

“A new world requires new people and new ways of being, thinking, feeling, and doing,” the Eagle continued. “And it must be built minute after minute, day after day. You must be impeccable.”

This is in no way an original idea, since what we call collective thinking leads many people around the world to develop the same kind of ideas more or less in the same timeframes. Moacir Gadotti, a Brazilian philosopher of education, wrote in his book Pedagogía de la Tierra (Pedagogy of the Earth) (emphasis in bold is mine):

“The ’emerging paradigm’ (Gutiérrez & Prado, 1997: 29) is supported by new interpretative categories: it went from a mechanistic conception towards a holistic and ecological vision; from a mechanical science which conceived the world linearly towards a quantum and complex dimension of reality. ‘Categories such as space and time, and even matter, are giving way to a holistic dimension, which forces us to consider the world from the point of view of relationships and integrations, and not from that of isolated entities’ (Gutiérrez & Prado, 1999: 30). (…) …this new way of signifying the world means new ways of thinking, being, feeling, acting… brings new values and new behaviours.” (Gadotti, 2000: 167)

And well before he had written:

“Ecopedagogy aims to develop a new view of education, a global perspective, a new way of being and living in the world, a way of thinking in everyday life, seeking meaning every time, in every act…” (ibid: 72)

These ideas, therefore, were not mine, nor Gadotti’s; they were not Gutiérrez’s and Prado’s, nor did they belong to others who perhaps have expressed similar ideas over the last two decades. Personally, I think these ideas were developed by humanity in the collective unconscious, and from there we are all drawing them out to point the way that could take us out of the serious social and environmental crisis which we are living.

The new education, the new pedagogy that we need in order to build a new humanity and finally resolve injustices, violence and environmental destruction, must necessarily lead to a new way of thinking, feeling, acting… In short, a new way of seeing and understanding the world, a new way of being and living on Earth, to be based on our everyday acts and gestures, minute after minute, day after day, trying to be impeccable in everything we do.

It is not an easy task at all, but it is the only path that can lead us to the world which we have all dreamed of. And, in that sense, it is important to not stop dreaming…

“We live in a time of paradigmatic transition of society and school. (…) …in this context of paradigmatic crisis, we need to assert our same old utopias.” (Gadotti, 2000: 152)