The details of the European fiscal crisis are complicated but a very simple explanation is that that Europe, like the US and other nations, has an economic system that does not provide the opportunities for many people to maintain the basic necessities for life. The solution requires international cooperation, so watching Britain refuse to join the rest of Europe out of concern for its "national interests", leaves me less hopeful that the world's nation states will reach consensus on far more challenging problems such as climate change. Add corporate control of finance, communications and government to the equation and real change looks very unlikely.
As a long-time critic of the nation-state, I am embarrassed that that the alternative turned out to be the global corporation. Global corporations, accountable only to shareholders for profit, easily compete with nation-states, pursuing corporate rather than national interests. If not wholly the equal of national governments, large corporations exercise considerable influence in promoting their maximum profit. Large corporations are in many respects a form of supra-national government with interests that transcend geographic boundaries.
The sheer dominance of hyper-militarized corporate thought and culture in America and less militarized, but no less strong, corporatism elsewhere in the world makes me feel like the embattled rebel. Outnumbered by a vastly more wealthy and powerful force. Everything of value at risk of extermination. No way out. It's a daunting and hopeless feeling. My life is not personally at risk in this scenario but other lives--the many in this world (and yes, America also) who lack basic necessities and live on the margin--are at risk. In the long run the entire planet is at risk of a consumption-based economy managed in the interest of short-term profit and narrow private and national intests.
That's why people around the world are speaking out and demanding change. The sheer mobilization of alternative voices, voices mostly ignored and dismissed by the corporate media, this past year is one of the great events of my lifetime. Americans finally began to loudly demand change, to resist a corporate culture that has demonized the idea of collective solution to public issues. This week Russians are protesting in large numbers. I can hope but can in no way assure that all of this direct democracy will create change for the better. It will create change and that change will create opportunity.
My antidote to the embattled rebel feeling is reminding myself that I am part of a chain. I may not actually see or experience the just and equitable society I seek--my "promised land"--but my efforts will be part of that society's heritage as it comes to fruition. This year's outpouring of humanity in demanding change has vividly reminded me of my place in the chain.
That seems like a good attitude to take into 2012.