Our top priority — remembering who we are

As fears around Italy (the world’s third largest debt market) drive down the euro and stock markets on both sides of the Atlantic, China’s export growth slows further, General Motors (still joint-second-biggest car maker in the world) considers shutting more plants in Europe, Cisco Systems is pleasantly surprised by accelerating order growth, and Jefferson County (Alabama) files for bankruptcy (owing more than $3bn), the biggest issue we face is whether in bringing in technocrats will push democracy on to the back burner.

The problems we face that stem from the financial system we ourselves invented. We have it in our power to invent a better system.

When problems arise, as they have now, we can try to find a solution within the same rules of the game. This is what we have been doing to date, and each ‘solution’ has merely pushed the stress onto another part of the system.

Or we can define a new game.

Icelanders, for example, were told that they were liable for the debts incurred by bankers, and that they would each have to pay €100/month, for 15 years, to pay off these debts. They replied, “No we don’t” and are now setting about installing a new level of democracy in their country.

Greeks, Italians, and the rest of us in Europe would do well to remember this.

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