Discontent is only the beginning of change
The 13th article in the series "Political Catastrophes".

The French and Dutch referendums showed that masspeople are discontent with the present situation and the present leadership. But discontent and voting against leaders cannot change the world as I wrote in my 60th Letter of an Autonomous Thinker.

Discontent needs individualisation, activity of masspeople and a long term goal for a better world.  

Discontent without any idea how to leave the precarious situation of masspeople leads to pessimism (withdrawal from political activity). Even worse is the reasoning that “the others” are deceiving us and that we need better leaders. In the end that can lead to populist leaders who just as the old elite in the first place are interested in the well-being of the own group. Hitler, Pinochet, Kemal Ata Turk and also Putin and Berlusconi are such leaders. About strongmen I wrote already in The fourth Chapter of my book “About Violence and Democracy”.

Individualisation forces masspeople to think for themselves. But when solutions have no future this can also lead to disappointment and withdrawal from the political arena. This withdrawal does not support the rise of a new elite but this kind of isolated individualisation leads to alienation, hedonism and in the end to the disintegration of society.
By the way, voting is not an individual activity, it is to a great height controlled by the sitting political elite. People are asked to vote about complex processes but the elected interpret the voting results only in favour of their own policy. Many politicians explained the heavy defeat in the referendum about the European Constitution as a step forward on the way to a United Europe.

Individual activity that is not controlled by higher powers is needed for a positive change of our society.  It is founded on the idea that solutions only can be implemented by the continuous and lasting activity of masspeople against leaders.
Autonomous activity gets rid of the emptiness of most political mass activity. The number of masspeople who are member of political parties has indeed decreased sharply but new methods to become political active have not yet come forward. Individual activity in small and temporarily groups can become a binding factor in the massworld that contributes to the coming into existence of a new world without any elite.

A long term purpose is also needed.
The elite has the conservative goal to preserve the existing situation in which it has an advantage over the masses in the field of power and wealth.
Masspeople should always carry in the back of their mind the progressive goal of a new world in which all people have equal status, in which privileged elites will not anymore exist.
All mass activity that does not in some way contribute to the coming into being of a new society confirms only the organisation of the present society in which leaders are living on a privileged eliteworld that is far apart from the often harsh massworld.  

In the end it all boils down to one sentence. Fundamental change only occurs when masspeople do not want to live anymore on the way they are living now and when elitepeople cannot live anymore their former life because masspeople intrude the private living sphere of the rich and powerful.

Joost van Steenis (June 23 2005)

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